Saturday, July 13, 2013

Eskimos in New York, 1862

Hall Papers, Smithsonian Institution
Most people today remember P.T. Barnum as a name associated with the Barnum & Bailey/Ringling Brothers Circus --but in his heyday he was primarily a showman of curiosities, freaks, and human wonders. He introduced the midget "Tiny Tim" to the world, and later "Commodore Nutt" (as seen above); displayed an elderly woman claimed to be George Washington's nurse, and arranged the phenomenally successful singing tour of Jenny Lind. He operated, in New York City, a year-round flagship attraction known as "Barnum's American Museum," and it was here in 1862 that he displayed three Inuit, brought to America by the explorer Charles Francis Hall. These were Tookoolito (known as "Hannah"), Ebierbing (known as "Joe") and their infant child Tarralikitaq ("Butterfly"). Hannah and Joe had served as Hall's translator and guide, and continued to do so throughout his career until his death in northwestern Greenland in 1871.

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