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Minstrel shows, circuses, and museums filled with oddities were just some of the major attractions amusing audiences in the 19th century. The legendary showman Phineas T. Barnum kept America gazing in wonder for decades, and Stephen Foster, despite his own tragic life, would keep America singing. In Britain, playwrights like Oscar Wilde kept audiences laughing and thinking.

Blondin Walked Across Niagara Falls By Tightrope
Charles Blondin the famed tightrope walker conquered Niagara Falls before enormous crowds in 1859.

Jenny Lind's Tour of America Was a Sensation in the Mid-1800s
When Jenny Lind, an opera singer dubbed The Swedish Nightinagle, was brought to New York by Phineas T. Barnum in 1850 the city went crazy. Crowds numbering in the tens of thousands greeted her, and Jenny Lind's American concert tour set the standard for how performers would conquer America.

Cards for St. Valentine's Day Become a Tradition
Read about how the Valentine Card became a longstanding American tradition in the mid-1800s. In Massachusetts a young woman began manufacturing Valentine cards, and in Victorian England the noted illustrator Kate Greenaway produced very popular Valentines. By the end of the century, St. Valentine's Day was firmly established as a holiday.

Christmas Trees Became a Tradition in the 19th Century
A look at the history of Christmas trees shows that decorated trees had appeared in America even before Prince Albert and Queen Victoria made them fashionable.

19th Century Image Galleries
A collection of vintage images of historic people and events of the 19th century.

Political Terminology From the 19th Century
Our common political terms often have a colorful past and 19th century roots.

Forgotten Political Terms From the 19th Century
Forgotten political terms which were commonly used in the 19th century.

The Cardiff Giant, Famous 19th Century Hoax
The Cardiff Giant was one of the most famous and entertaining hoaxes of the 19th century.

Barnum's Greatest Attractions
A look at some of the astounding attractions promoted by Phineas T. Barnum in his long career entertaining the public.

Joice Heth

Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show

Stereographs and Stereoscopes
Stereographic photography, which appeared three-dimensional, was very popular in the 19th century.

Annie Oakley biography
Annie Oakley was a show business phenomenon of the late 19th century as a women who possessed remarkable skill with a rifle.

Barnum's Money Lectures
Phineas T. Barnum financial ups and downs informed his lectures on The Art of Money-Getting.

Steve Brodie and the Brooklyn Bridge
Steve Brodie's famous 1886 leap from the Brooklyn Bridge may never have happened, but that really didn't matter.


The American tradition of mixing barbecue and politics has strong roots in the 1800s.

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