Family entertainment sure has come a long way since the heyday of traveling circuses in the United States.
For example, check out this collection of images taken by amateur photographer Charles W. Cushman that document a series stops in Chicago by the traveling Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus between 1944 and 1951.
Some of the vintage photos, taken over 60 years ago and archived by Indiana University, have an eerie quality. All of them reflect an essentially bygone era. Though a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey tour continues to this day, the popularity of the circus was never the same after television and movies gained prominence in the 1950s and 1960s. Allegations of animal abuse have also plagued the circus through the years.
We don't recommend scrolling down if you suffer from coulrophobia, the fear of clowns.