Oh wow you guys: Intrepid reader Cookie has found the motherlode of information related to carnival sideshows. Sideshow World is “dedicated to preserving the past while promoting the future of sideshow for fans and performers alike.”
Their historical section covers all the old standbys: Feejee mermaids and flea circuses and medicine shows and fortune-tellers and loads more, copiously peppered with vintage photos and artwork. They also have a useful “Ask the Staff” page where you can get help identifying photos or request information about sideshow acts of the past.
There’re discussions of carnival games and photos of taxidermied “freaks of nature.” Recipes for midway-style corn dogs and descriptions of various types of conjoined twins. Sword swallowers and tattooed ladies and dime museums and snake oil.
They’ve also got a large section devoted to modern sideshows, with performer bios, event listings, and heaps of links to related resources.
If you’ve ever considered a carnival-themed party, needed reference photos for sculpting a shrunken head, or wanted to frame some vintage midway posters, this is the place to look. Great stuff.