Becoming Barnum: The Journey to Fame and Fortune

Becoming Barnum: The Journey to Fame and Fortune

"Becoming Barnum: The Journey to Fame and Fortune" is a podcast presented by The Barnum Museum in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The podcast is based on the museum's award-winning blog series and explores the life of P.T. Barnum through a collection of 750-page copybook letters written by Barnum during his travels in Europe in the 1840s. The letters offer insights into Barnum as a husband, father, and businessman, as well as his mentorship of child actor-entertainer General Tom Thumb. The podcast explores the hardscrabble world of show business in the 19th century and offers a glimpse into the life and mind of the man behind the legend. Support for this project is provided by the City of Bridgeport, People’s United, and the Connecticut Humanities and National Endowment for the Humanities. Join us on this journey through history and discover the real person behind the legendary "P.T. Barnum." Listen to our episodes and follow along as we uncover the fascinating story of Barnum's rise to fame and fortune.

Episodes

August 31, 2022 41 mins

Date: 7/20/22

BECOMING BARNUM: The Journey to Fame and Fortune

An Introduction to Becoming Barnum: Interview with the Barnum Museum Curator - Episode 1


Today, we discuss an exciting museum exhibit, a Bound volume of copied letters in P.T. Barnum's hand, dating from July 1845 to August 1846. This volume contains a wealth of primary information dating to the most significant period in Barnum's early career. This book dates ...

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Date: 7/27/22

BECOMING BARNUM: The Journey to Fame and Fortune

A Bit of France in Bridgeport, Connecticut - Episode 2


Barnum’s travels in France had influenced his vision for his beloved Bridgeport; this was clearly revealed by what he chose to tell the Atlas readers. Barnum adopted Bridgeport, Connecticut, as his hometown in 1847, and after that, until he died in 1891, he had a great deal to do with its development, even...

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Date: 8/10/22

BECOMING BARNUM: The Journey to Fame and Fortune

“A Touch of Yankee” Solves a Problem - Episode 3


Mr. Barnum was infuriated by the demands of the Hospice Commissioners who expected a far larger percentage of the gross receipts than Barnum felt reasonable.


Learn more about PT Barnum’s Letter Copy Book here: 

https://tinyurl.com/BarnumArchive

https://tinyurl.com/barnumletters

https://youtu.be/2KBRqgr_uGQ


Re...

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August 31, 2022 17 mins

Date: 8/24/22

BECOMING BARNUM: The Journey to Fame and Fortune

 The Beginnings of Iranistan  - Episode 4


Barnum’s homesickness coincided with and perhaps fueled his desire to begin building a country home for his family. Barnum writes about a future grand home in Bridgeport, Iranistan, just in the early planning stage.


Learn more about PT Barnum’s Letter Copy Book here: 

https://tinyurl.com/BarnumArchive

https://tinyurl....

August 31, 2022 19 mins

Date: 8/03/22

BECOMING BARNUM: The Journey to Fame and Fortune

A Mountain of Worries - Episode 5


In this episode, we delve into a new “batch” of the letters P. T. Barnum wrote while in France and sent back to his family and business associates in America.  These letters have a different tone from the letters written in preceding weeks.


Learn more about PT Barnum’s Letter Copy Book here: 

https://tinyurl.com/BarnumArchiv...

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August 31, 2022 19 mins

Date: 8/17/22

BECOMING BARNUM: The Journey to Fame and Fortune

 A New Play for the General - Episode 6


P. T. Barnum’s famous protegee Charles Stratton, known to the world as Gen. Tom Thumb, was quite a young child when he was first introduced to European audiences in the mid-1840s.  Though he was 5, 6, and 7 over the three-year tour, Barnum billed him as five or six years older to make his diminutive stature seem all the ...

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August 31, 2022 36 mins

Date: 8/24/22

BECOMING BARNUM: The Journey to Fame and Fortune

 They Stared with All the Eyes They Had  - Episode 7


Have you ever tried to envision a visit to Barnum’s American Museum?  I find it is a feat of the imagination to reconcile exterior pictures of the museum with the sheer quantity and variety of artifacts, animals, and activities offered within—supposedly over 600,000 items


Learn more about PT Barnum’s Lett...

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September 7, 2022 31 mins

BECOMING BARNUM: The Journey to Fame and Fortune

 Story Updates, and a Daughter’s Education  - Episode 8


Back in Episode, A Mountain of Worries, we had wondered how Charity dealt with a rather harsh letter from her husband, written on September 12th, 1845.  Would she reply or remain silent for a while?


Learn more about PT Barnum’s Letter Copy Book here: 

https://tinyurl.com/BarnumArchive

https://tinyurl.com/Barnumbookle...

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September 14, 2022 37 mins

Curiosity got the better of our curator Adrienne after reading another of P. T. Barnum’s letters in which he mentioned the Frenchman who worked for him at the American Museum, plus a letter directly to him responding to concerns about his salary.

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September 21, 2022 21 mins

BECOMING BARNUM: The Journey to Fame and Fortune

My Success Has Been a Miracle  - Episode 10



One of the many “beauties” of P. T. Barnum’s copybook letters from 1845-1846 is that they provide insights into Barnum’s attitudes toward money just at the point in his life when he had become incredibly rich. 

Learn more about PT Barnum’s Letter Copy Book here: 

https://tinyurl.com/BarnumArchive

https://tinyurl.com/Barnumbookle...

BECOMING BARNUM: The Journey to Fame and Fortune

Souvenir Medals, and a Snug Saloon to Draw and Read In  - Episode 11



As we’ve learned from the July – October 1845 correspondence between Barnum and his business associates, the Tom Thumb tour through France, outside of Paris, had not lived up to his expectations of financial reward.  The copybook letters begin after the entourage had left Paris, and Barnum’s reference...

October 5, 2022 26 mins

BECOMING BARNUM: The Journey to Fame and Fortune

Read & Reflect, Then Do as You Please  - Episode 12



Over the past few months of reading Barnum’s letters in his 1845-1846 copybook, I have been surprised to find relatively few to Charity, his wife.  Though it is clear that Barnum missed his wife and daughters very much while he was in France, correspondence thus far suggests a marital relationship that was often o...

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October 12, 2022 33 mins

BECOMING BARNUM: The Journey to Fame and Fortune

A Tree Found, Tried & Shook  - Episode 13



Since we are well into “apple season” here in New England (as well as in neighboring New York State, the country’s second biggest apple-producer), the title phrase of this week’s blog—plucked from a P. T. Barnum letter—seemed ripe for picking. 

Learn more about PT Barnum’s Letter Copy Book here: 

https://tinyurl.com/BarnumArc...

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October 19, 2022 35 mins

BECOMING BARNUM: The Journey to Fame and Fortune

“The Laborer is Worthy of his Hire”  - Episode 14


In previous letters we’ve gotten to know some of the key staff members of P. T. Barnum’s team at the American Museum in New York, by piecing together details from the letters Barnum wrote in France.  Learning about their responsibilities and gaining insights into their personalities—at least, insofar as we can infer this fr...

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October 26, 2022 15 mins

BECOMING BARNUM: The Journey to Fame and Fortune

Barnum & Catlin  - Episode 15


In this episode we’ll explore the connection between P. T. Barnum and another famous showman, a lawyer-turned-artist, George Catlin.  Catlin’s early 19th century portraits of Native Americans are his most famous legacy, but like Barnum he possessed the determination to seek success in many arenas.

Learn more about PT Barnum’s Letter Copy Bo...

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BECOMING BARNUM: The Journey to Fame and Fortune

Trumpets, “Venus,” and a Young Man, All Heading to America  - Episode 16


In this Episode of Becoming Barnum,  we’ll follow up on the status of new attractions Barnum planned for his American Museum in New York, and learn about another of his “good turns” to help out a friend.  The latter is mainly interesting for the window it provides on Barnum’s views of America as he ex...

November 9, 2022 18 mins

BECOMING BARNUM: The Journey to Fame and Fortune

My Mind is Occupied with Thoughts of Home  - Episode 17


In this Episode of Becoming Barnum, it feels most fitting to highlight P. T. Barnum’s letters home to his wife, sister, and daughter.  These letters were composed in the mid-November 1845 timeframe we have been exploring, when Barnum was in Paris.  In almost every letter, whether to family or business associates, we s...

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November 16, 2022 29 mins

BECOMING BARNUM: The Journey to Fame and Fortune

Tell Me Plainly What You Think  - Episode 18


This episode of Becoming Barnum discusses another uncomfortable truth about showing human beings as curiosities, as we learn directly from Barnum. This letter came up in the same November 1845 timeframe as the letter with his proposal to Catlin. Still, it warrants a separate discussion concerning the exhibition of people with ge...

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November 23, 2022 29 mins

BECOMING BARNUM: The Journey to Fame and Fortune

A Jolly Lot of Brother Showman  - Episode 19


This episode of Becoming Barnum discusses some of his lengthy epistles to the Editors of the New York Atlas, for whom Barnum was acting as a foreign correspondent. This week we think listeners  will particularly enjoy for the information about circus and menagerie showmen, as well as other famous entertainers whose names would b...

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November 30, 2022 31 mins

BECOMING BARNUM: The Journey to Fame and Fortune

We Have Got Quite Territory Enough  - Episode 20


This episode of Becoming Barnum discusses letters containing political remarks and comments about war—content somewhat different from what we’ve seen up to this point. Barnum was not referring to the Mexican-American War. Still, there is a connection between the Mexican-American War and the potential war with England that he...


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