Robert Harold Brisendine papers, 1814-2002

Emory University

Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library

Atlanta, GA 30322


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Descriptive Summary

Creator: Brisendine, Robert Harold, 1922-2002.
Title: Robert Harold Brisendine papers, 1814-2002
Call Number:Manuscript Collection No. 947
Extent: 25.75 linear feet (52 boxes), 7 oversized bound volumes (OBV), and 1 oversized papers box and 2 oversized papers folders (OP)
Abstract:Collection of material accumulated by Robert Brisendine relating to circuses, wild west shows, animal exhibitions, vaudeville and variety shows, dramatic repertory companies, minstrel shows, and orchestras and bands.
Language:Materials entirely in English.

Administrative Information

Restrictions on Access

Special restrictions apply: Researchers must contact the Rose Library in advance to access audio-visual materials in this collection.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction.


Gift, 2002.


[after identification of item(s)], Robert Harold Brisendine papers, Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University.


Processed by Shawn McCauley, July 2006.

Collection Description

Biographical Note

Robert Harold Brisendine (1922-2002) served as an Army radio operator in Italy during World War II. From the 1960s-1990s, he worked as a radio announcer and newscaster in Atlanta for WQXI (790AM). In the fall of 1976, he joined the Hoxie Bros. Circus as an advance agent, and he remained with the circus in 1977.

Brisendine was an inveterate circus researcher, one of a small cadre whose specialty was circus dates. He collected information on all kinds of shows, from large shows like Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey to Wild West Shows to old time Medicine Shows to dog and pony shows to a “captive” whale. He did invaluable original research focusing on the routes of particular shows and recording the entertainments that visited particular cities. He never published his material, but he made it available to other circus historians.

Bob Brisendine was one of a small group of local circus fans who began to meet more or less regularly in the fall of 1969. The original group was the beginning of what is now the Duggan Bros. Arnold Maley Tent 116 of the Circus Fans Association of America. (The tent's charter celebration was held on October 22, 1970. It was originally named "Duggan Bros." tent after W. F. Duggan, a Georgia born showman who operated the Duggan Bros. circus in 1934. Charter tent member Stan May is a nephew of Duggan. Arnold Maley's name was added later.)

Scope and Content Note

Spanning over a hundred and fifty years of entertainment history, the collection consists of a variety of materials relating to circuses, wild west shows, animal exhibitions, vaudeville and variety shows, dramatic repertory companies, minstrel shows, and orchestras and bands. The bulk of the material is Brisendine's research files, which are comprised of chronologies, routes, notes, photocopies of advertisements, and transcriptions of newspaper articles. These materials record exactly when and where all of the aforementioned kinds of entertainments performed, with special attention given to performances in Georgia. Additional materials in the collection include circus publications and memorabilia, such as programs, handbills, and tickets, as well as photographs of various circus performances, scrapbooks, and the expense ledgers of the King Bros. Circus. The collection also contains a large number of circus-related periodicals and publications, Brisendine's personal correspondence with other circus researchers, and a series of audio recordings made during his time as a radio announcer.

Arrangement Note

Organized into eight series: (1) Research files, (2) Circus publications and printed materials, (3) Correspondence, (4) Photographs and negatives, (5) Audio recordings, (6) Allen P. Wescott scrapbooks, and (7) King Bros. Circus expense ledgers.

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