Sep 1, 2022

Musselman Family Photographs Now Available Through Milner Library’s Digital Collections

I doubt if this will aid many genealogists in their research but, if you are one of the few, this will probably be one of the greatest online assets you ever found.

In a recent addition to Milner Library’s digital repository of historical circus materials, a singular collection of photographs and ephemera relating to the Musselman family and their long-running trapeze act has been scanned and made available online for public research. The collection includes photos of the family both on and off the trapeze, offering an intimate glimpse into the life of a troupe that was different from most.

The Five Fearless Flyers pose for a group shot circa 1933. From left to right: Maxine Musselman, Clayton Behee, Frances Musselman, Eddie Ward, Jr., and Robert Musselman.

Milner’s Special Collections department has amassed a world-renowned collection of circus artifacts from costumes performers wore to heralds which advertised upcoming performances. Many of these pieces are now decades or even centuries old, which raises concerns about the inevitability of physical deterioration. Archival storage of the artifacts can stave off this process but leaves them out of reach to those who aren’t able to visit in person. To address these issues, the Milner Library Digitization Center has undertaken converting some of these physical relics into high-resolution digital surrogates. This process ensures the treasures are eternalized in their current condition and free to access via the library website.

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