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Oklahoma’s Circus Connection

Archie Green Fellowship funds “Big Top” oral history

May 25, 2011

For Immediate Release

STILLWATER -When you think of traditional Oklahoma professions, the circus probably doesn’t come to mind. Maybe it should.

Since the 1940s, many circuses have maintained winter headquarters in the Oklahoma town of Hugo. The area is historically referred to as the “Sarasota of the Southwest” and “Circus City USA.” 

Tanya Finchum and Juliana Nykolaiszyn, faculty with the Oklahoma Oral History Research Program (OOHRP) at the Oklahoma State University Library received a 2011 Archie Green Fellowship from the Library of Congress American Folklife Center. The focus of the Archie Green Fellowship is to research the culture and traditions of American workers.

“The circus is about creating illusion, stimulating the imagination, and providing family entertainment,” Finchum said. “The heart of this project is capturing information about the occupations that help define it.”

Finchum and Nykolaiszyn will collect oral history interviews documenting the occupational culture and tradition of the American "Big Top" circuses in Hugo. Interviewees will include current and former circus performers along with others from outside occupations impacting the circus industry in Hugo.

Additionally, historical evidence of Oklahoma's circus life will be recorded, preserved and made available through the OSU Library. Original materials generated from this project will be archived at the Library of Congress.

Formally established in 2007, the OOHRP at the OSU Library has collected and preserved firsthand accounts from individuals who have played a part in Oklahoma’s history. The Program explores the lives and contributions of Oklahomans from all walks of life. To learn more about the OOHRP call 405-744-7685, email liboh@okstate.edu, or visit http://www.library.okstate.edu/oralhistory/.

Oklahoma State University is a modern land-grant system that cuts across disciplines to better prepare students for a new world. Oklahoma's only university with a statewide presence, OSU improves the lives of people in Oklahoma, the nation, and the world through integrated, high-quality teaching, research and outreach. OSU has more than 32,000 students across its five-campus system and nearly 21,000 on its Stillwater campus; with students from all 50 states and about 110 nations. Established in 1890, OSU has graduated more than 200,000 students who have made a lasting impact on Oklahoma and the world. CREATE - INNOVATE - EDUCATE - GO STATE!

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URL: http://www.library.okstate.edu/news/summer11/circus.htm
Last Updated: 25 May 2011

Media Contact:

Bonnie Ann Cain-Wood, APR
Email: lib-pub@okstate.edu
Phone: (405) 744-7331

225 Edmon Low Library
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK 74078-1071

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