Barnum and Bailey Circus Merges With Ringling Brothers Circus

The Ringlings purchased the Barnum & Bailey Circus in 1907 and ran the circuses separately until 1919.

By that time, Charles Edward Ringling and John Nicholas Ringling were the only remaining Ringling brothers of the five who founded the circus. They decided that it was too difficult to run the two circuses independently, so on March 29, 1919, "Ringling Bros. and "Barnum & Bailey Combined Shows" debuted at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The posters declared, "The Ringling Bros. World's Greatest Shows and the Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth are now combined into one record-breaking giant of all exhibitions." Charles Edward Ringling died in 1926. The circus was a success through the Roaring 20s.

The Ringling brothers were seven siblings who transformed their small touring company of performers into one of America's largest circuses in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Born in McGregor, Iowa and raised in Baraboo, Wisconsin, they were the children of Heinrich Friedrich August Ringling (1826-1898) of Hanover, Germany and Marie Salome Juliar (1833-1907) of Ostheim, France. They merged their Ringling Brothers Circus with America's other leading circus troupes, ultimately creating the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, which still tours today under their name.