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Floyd E. Quick circus photograph collection

Identifier: P018

Scope and Contents

This collection includes photographs and photographic postcards from Floyd E. Quick and other photographers in Peru, Indiana; Wisconsin; Ohio; and other locations in the midwestern United States ranging from 1897 to 1921 and undated regarding his work as a traveling photographer at circuses and carnivals, as well as performers, employees, animals, and public attendees on the midway and at the shows.

The identified shows and groups include: Mabel Cody's Flying Circus, Eiler's Refined Hippodrome, P.T. Barnum's Circus, Greater United Shows, Herbert A. Kline Shows, Sugimoto Acrobat Troupe, Sells-Floto Circus, Ringling Brothers, and a "Jones show," probably Johnny J. Jones Exposition Shows and Trained Wild Animal Exhibition.


  • 1897-1921, undated


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Legal title, copyright, and literary rights reside with Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Biographical Note

Floyd Edgar Quick was born on November 2, 1877 to Albert Johnson and Lovilla (Pittinger) Quick in Crawfordsville, Indiana. Quick had 3 brothers, Stebbins Wesley, Charles Albert, Ernest Edwin, and a sister, Emily. When he was 21, in 1898, he worked at the Indianapolis Photo Button Manufacturing Company. He married Claudia Bernice Barnes (1880-1970) on November 5, 1901 and they had a son named Charles Louis (1903-1931). From 1902 to 1905, Quick was a photographer for the Indianapolis Sentinel. During 1907-1909, he operated Quick Photo and Engraving Company, 77 North New Jersey Street and F. E. Quick Photo Company, 229 1/2 Massachusetts, Avenue in Indianapolis. In 1909, Quick sold his shop and took his business on the road as an itinerant photographer at fairs, carnivals, and circuses, including the Johnny L. Jones Exposition Shows and the Greater United Shows, traveling around Indiana and the Midwest. He sold photo postcards to the public which were developed while the customers waited and photographed the midway, exotic animals, and circus performers, while capturing snapshots of circus life. After a few years, Quick returned to a more stationary life and moved to Detroit, Michigan by 1913, operating the American Commercial Photo Company at 48-54 State Street. Quick retired to California for a time. He died on February 5, 1962 and was buried in Spring Hill Cemetery and Mausoleum in Danville, Illinois.

Sources: Accessed May 10, 2021. "Floyd Edgar Quick." Find a Grave Memorial. Accessed May 10, 2020.

Wilson, Kenneth. Snapshots and Short Notes: Images and Messages of Early Twentieth-Century Photo Postcards. Denton, TX: University of North Texas Press, 2020.

Historical Note

Peru, Indiana became known as the "Circus Capital of the World" and the "Circus City" between the late 1800s and the 1940s. In 1884, local livery owner Benjamin Wallace started his own show called Wallace and Company's Great World Menagerie, Grand International Mardi Gras, Highway Holiday Hidalgo and Alliance of Novelties. He later acquired the Hagenbeck Circus and renamed his operation The HagenBeck-Wallace Circus, beginning the circus' tour in Peru each year.

Numerous circus troupes and acts, including Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, wintered outside Peru on land near Wallace's livery, purchased in 1892 from Chief Gabriel Godfroy of the Miami nation. In 1921, Wallace died and the lands were purchased by American Circus Corporation. The winter quarters comprised barns for the large exotic animals like elephants, giraffes, and big cats, as well as other outbuildings such as equipment sheds, wagon shops, a clubhouse, and a hospital. Eventually, the Ringling brothers achieved ascendancy in the circus community, establishing their winter lodgings in Saratoga, Florida in 1927, and business suffered during the Great Depression. In 1941, the winter quarters were finally closed. Many of the people from the circuses stayed in Peru, joining the "normals."

In the 1950s, a local art teacher and circus-officianado, Bob Weaver, began campaigning for the recognition of the local history, which led to the establishment of Peru's 8-day circus festival. Started in 1960, the festival occurs every July (except for 2020 when it was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic) with parades featuring restored horse-drawn wagons of historical circuses and performances from county residents aged 7-21. Many of today's performers come from circus families. The International Circus Hall of Fame relocated to the winter quarters grounds in Peru from Saratoga, Florida in 1980.


"International Circus Hall of Fame." International Circus Hall of Fame." Accessed May 7, 2021.

Matiash, Chelsea. "How One Town in Indiana Became the Circus Capital of the World." TIME, August 17, 2016. Accessed May 7, 2021.

Salaz, Susan. "Inside the 'Circus Capital of the World.'" Atlas Obscura, April 8, 2020. Accessed May 7, 2021.


0.3 Cubic Feet (1 manuscript box)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged by subject.

Custodial History

This collection was received by Rare Books and Manuscripts as a donation.


No further additions are expected.

Related Materials

Materials relating to this collection may be found in the following collections in Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN:

S1090: Floyd Edgar Quick collection

Historical Context Note

The Indiana State Library strives to provide extensive access to our diverse collections, in person and online. Materials within these collections appear as they were originally published or created and may include content that that some viewers find offensive or objectionable. These materials are preserved and presented to provide a true historical representation of their time and should be viewed in the context in which they were created.

Processing Information

Collection processing completed 2021/05/10 by Brittany Kropf. EAD finding aid created 2021/05/10 by Brittany Kropf.
Floyd E. Quick circus photograph collection
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Repository

140 North Senate Avenue
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204 U.S.A.