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MS Thr 736

Human curiosity prints, playbills, broadsides and other printed material, 1695-1937: Guide.

Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University


Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138 USA

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Location: b
Call No.: MS Thr 736
Repository: Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University
Title: Human curiosity prints, playbills, broadsides and other printed material,
Date(s): 1695-1937.
Quantity: 1 collection (1.5 linear feet (3 boxes)
Language of materials: Collection materials are in English and French.
Abstract: Collection of printed material concerning human curiosities, chiefly people exhibited in and around London and the United States.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

No accession number. Source and date unknown unless noted at item level.

Processing Information:

Processed by: Susan Wyssen

Conditions Governing Access:

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.

Preferred Citation for Publication:

Human Curiosity Prints, Playbills, Broadsides and Other Printed Material, 1695-1937 (MS Thr 736). Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Biographical / Historical

Human curiosities, usually referred to as "freaks," are persons with something extraordinary about their appearance or behavior. A "freak show" is an exhibition of such persons. Changes in popular culture and entertainment led to the decline of the freak show as a form of entertainment.


Arranged into the following series:

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of images, chiefly intaglio prints, but also some photographs; broadsides and playbills of shows; and other materials concerning human curiosities. Most of the human curiosities are medical anomalies, giants, dwarfs, etc., such as Józef Borusławski and Patrick Cotter, but collection also contains images of people known for unusual activities or feats, such as Captain Robert Barclay, who walked 1000 miles in 1000 days; André Garnerin, inventor of the frameless parachute; and Laura Dewey Bridgman, an educated deaf-blind woman.

Container List