Guy Oscar Blackburn

I know a lot more about Guy Blackburn than I did in January 2019, when I began researching him for this class. While I still don’t know his birth date, I now know that he died in 1955 and where and how–though not yet why.

Things I also now know:

  • when he joined his first circus
  • that he performed with nine circuses between 1926 and 1949
  • that he was a female impersonator, dancer, and aerialist
  • that he was in a committed relationship with a fellow circus trouper
  • that he had a performance name, and what it was
  • that he had good friends in the circus, and who they were
  • that he was happy in the circus.

I am amazed at how much information I was able to find out about him this semester. With the help of Kate Matheny at the Hoole Special Collections Library (who suggested a book to me that proved very useful) and Sara Whitver at the Gorgas Library (who provided me with a link to the ProQuest database for Billboard Magazine and help with determining my InterLibrary Loan options) and Peter Shrake, archivist at the Circus World Museum in Baraboo, Wisconsin (who provided me with a place to start in my search of all things circus), I have located details about Guy’s life that are rich beyond measure.

I wrote a profile essay about him. I really did. A long one, with five pages of Works Cited entries.

But I also know that my research on Guy and his circus life is not done. I want to know more; I want to write more about Guy. I’m pretty sure this is a larger project than a profile essay, and  I want to see where else the research takes me.

So, for now, I will not be posting a profile essay here.

In lieu of the essay, here’s a 1926 photo I ran across in my research. It’s kind of gruesome–dead circus horses on a street in Alabama City, Alabama. They are part of Guy’s story. They were there when the lightning struck.

vintage black and white photo of six dead white horses attached to a circus wagon
Six fallen white circus horses, still attached to their wagon, struck by lightning on Labor Day 1926 in Alabama City, Alabama. Christy Bros. Wild Animal Circus left town four days later, leaving 15 dead white circus horses behind for the town to bury. (Photo credit: Gadsden Public Library, printed in “Gallery: Alabama Circus Tales,” by Kelly Kazak,, 29 May 2014: