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Monday, July 07, 2008

There's A Sucker Born Every Minute

and P.T. Barnum knew how to play them like a violin!

I've long found P.T. Barnum to be a subject of great interest. I've had plans in the back of my mind to travel down to Bridgeport, CT to visit the Barnum Museum. But, as my mother used to say, "the best laid plans of mice and men do oft go awry." This weekend, though, I stumbled upon a virtual museum that will have to do until I get to the real thing.

It's called The Lost Museum, and it is highly interactive, so plan on spending a little time in front of the computer screen!

Gen. Tom Thumb, Miss Lavinia Warren, Commodore Nutt, and The Giant

My interest in Barnum took an unexpected detour once when I was visiting the Manchester Historic Association's museum (before it moved to its new location--that's how long ago it was) and found that one of the little people that Barnum exhibited was Commodore Nutt, and, he was born in Manchester. I spent many an hour researching George Washington Morrison Nutt in the hopes that someday I would do something with the information I had gathered. But as my mother used to say...

Here's a brief obituary of the Commodore from the New York Times dated May 26, 1881.

We don't have a biography of Commodore Nutt in our collection, but we do have several on P.T. Barnum, including one by A.H. Saxon called P.T. Barnum: The Legend and the Man [B BAR].

To get a taste of the attractions that you may have seen in Barnum's museum or circus, look for either one of these titles:

Jay, Ricky. Learned Pigs and Fireproof Women. [791 JAY]

Sloan, Mark. Wild, Weird, and Wonderful: The American Circus 1901-1927 As Seen by F.W. Glasier, Photographer. [791.3 SLO]


  1. I grew up in Middleboro, MA, and in the Middleboro Public Library there are four life-size portraits of PT Barnum's famous midgets: Charles Stratton (Tom Thumb), his wife Lavinia, her sister Minnie, and Commodore Nutt. Since I spent many hours in the library as a child (the inspiration for my 35-year career as a librarian), I really grew up under the gaze of those famous people. Lavinia and Minnie grew up in Middleboro, and after Stratton's death, Minnie married another midget known as Count Primo and returned to her home town. They operated a store called Primo's Pastime. Among my grandmother's photos is one of Minnie and Primo standing on the porch at the store. I'm not sure if Grandma knew them, but she would have been in her twenties at the time of Lavinia's death, so it's possible. I don't know who took the photo or how Grandma came to have it, since I was just 11 when she died and not much of a sleuth then (Nancy Drew books notwithstanding). The local historical society owns some clothing and personal items belonging to the Strattons.

    Nice blog, Kurious Kitty!

    Ellen Knowlton

  2. This is fascinating stuff. I see a field trip to Middleboro in my future! Thanks for writing, it's nice to know that someone other than staff and relatives are reading the blog! --Diane