| Zoological Institute Articles
of Association, 1835
Hachaliah Bailey of Somers began his menagerie business around
the turn of the 19th century, when he acquired an elephant that
he named Old Bet. He began touring the countryside, charging people
admission to see his strange animal. During the first three decades
of the 19th century, many men in Somers, North Salem and southern
Putnam County followed Bailey’s lead, acquiring exotic animals
that they exhibited to the public via traveling menagerie shows.
January 14, 1835, 128 of these men gathered at the Elephant Hotel
in Somers to sign the Articles of Association of the Zoological
Institute. Some pages of the document have not been scanned because
extreme fading of the ink makes them almost unreadable; the transcript,
however, is of the complete document.
While the economic panic of
1837 just two years later all but wiped out the Institute, the
organization formalized the menagerie business, which eventually
became the modern circus, and thus the Articles of Association
document is arguably the “birth certificate” of
the American circus.
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