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W. B. Griffin Photographic Collection,1913-1979

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Processed by: Staff, Dana Whitaker, Richard N. Leigh; machine-readable finding aid created by:Richard N. Leigh


W. B. Griffin Photographic Collection




University of Kentucky Special Collections

Lexington, Kentucky 40506

Conditions Governing Access note

Collection is open to researchers by appointment.

Preferred Citation Note

[Identification of item], W. B. Griffin Photographic Collection, 78PA104,Special Collections, University of Kentucky.


1 cu. ft. (2 boxes): 103 items


W. B. Griffin was the founder of W. B. Griffin and Son Insurance Administrators, and treasurer of Local 554 of the American Federation of Musicians. Both of these jobs required him to travel extensively, and he amassed two impressive collections: early pop music recordings (split between vinyl LPs and 78-RPM singles) and circus photographs. Griffin was an avid trumpeter as well, and frequently traveled with circuses to play as part of their 13-person bands. He especially admired Merle Evans, the "bandmaster" for Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus. In later life, the two became close friends and carried on a lengthy written correspondence. Griffin died in December of 2000, at the age of 96.

Scope and Content

The collection consists of one-hundred and three black and white silver prints. The collection is comprised primarily of portraits and publicity photographs, many of them from the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus. The bulk of the collection covers 1939-1967.


  • Barnum and Bailey
  • Barnum, P. T. (Phineas Taylor), 1810-1891
  • Circus
  • Circus--posters
  • Ringling Brothers

User Restrictions

Copyright has not been assigned to the University of Kentucky.

Related Material

Adams, Bluford. . Minneapolis, Minn.: University of Minnesota Press, 1997.

Eipper, Paul. . New York, NY: Viking Press, 1931.

Staub, Christian. . London, UK: J Lane, 1957.

Collection Inventory

Elephant standing on "1/2 ton of peanuts" in Suffolk, Virginia, at Dowmey Bros. Circus, 1939
[Box: 1, item: 001] browse
Two elephants with a trumpet player , [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 002] browse
Bridge over Salt River on U.S. Highway 60, Arizona, [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 003] browse
Stevens Bros. Circus tents, [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 004] browse
"Trooping the Colors," London; mailed from Middlesex, England, to Sarasota, Florida, 1975
[Box: 1, item: 005] browse
Tent at Aspen, Colorado, Music Festival, [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 006] browse
Clyde Beatty Band , 1946
[Box: 1, item: 007] browse
Man in formal coat and shoe-string tie [possibly Henry Kyes], [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 008] browse
Tige Hales Band [circus band], 1951
[Box: 1, item: 009] browse
Kitty Rostrum, Henry Kyes and Rex Rostrum with drum set marked "Polack Bros. Circus", [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 010] browse
Parade floats and beauty queens, Tampa, Florida, [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 011] browse
Henry Kyes, Ziggy Elman, Sammy Steffer and Jerry Gold at Polack Circus, Los Angeles, [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 012] browse
Circus fans of America; Henry Kyes, Tent #31, Springfield, Illinois, 1942
[Box: 1, item: 013] browse
Mrs. Karl King, a French horn player, Soike McKechnic, Henry Kyes, Karl King; Ft. Dodge, Iowa at King's home, [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 014] browse
Man playing trumpet on a balcony [probably Henry Kyes], [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 015] browse
Win' Danielson, organist, and Henry Kyes at airport in Sarasota, Florida, 1960
[Box: 1, item: 016] browse
Rehearsal at Ringling quarters in Venice, Florida, 1961
[Box: 1, item: 017] browse
Postcard of Gold Medal Circus Band, sent to Henry Kyes, Bandmaster, c/o Polack Bros. Circus, Boise, Idaho, 1951
[Box: 1, item: 018] browse
Postcard featuring clown Ed Raymond, [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 019] browse
Kyes and Ringmaster with majorette , [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 020] browse
Postcard of Long Beach Municipal Band, sent to Henry Kyes in Sarasota, Florida, mailed from Long Beach, California, 1951
[Box: 1, item: 021] browse
Clyde Beatty Circus Band, 1947
[Box: 1, item: 022] browse
William Stephens and Henry Kyes in Hollywood, California, published in Billboard Magazine, November 12, 1938, 1938
[Box: 1, item: 023] browse
Autographed on back: "Harry Armstrong, old trouper, trumpet and Band Leader.", [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 024] browse
Color postcard of "The Great Wallendas," a circus troupe, [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 025] browse
Group of men, women and children taken at an Indian War Dance before the show at Polack Bros. Circus, Eastern Unit; Gallup, New Mexico [names are on back], 1952
[Box: 1, item: 026] browse
Henry Kyes in band uniform with a lady and gentleman, [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 027] browse
Henry Kyes playing trumpet with bass drummer, [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 028] browse
Henry Kyes with Polack Bros. Circus Band, [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 029] browse
Henry Kyes and his band in circus tent, [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 030] browse
The Hanneford family outside trailer [circus performers], 1956
[Box: 1, item: 031] browse
91-year-old clown Al Ackerman from Polack Circus taken at Camp Pendleton, California, 1967
[Box: 1, item: 032] browse
Henry Kyes with two other men and a chimp, [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 033] browse
Al Ackerman and drummer Richard Evangelista at Camp Pendleton, California, [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 034] browse
Win Danielson, organist of Ringling Bros. Circus, [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 035] browse
Denver Band with Henry Kyes at Polack Circus , [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 036] browse
Clown in cowboy costume, [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 037] browse
Henry Kyes in Springfield, Illinois, 1970
[Box: 1, item: 038] browse
Henry Kyes with "Soldier," boss of props and mailman, 1970
[Box: 1, item: 039] browse
Henry Kyes with pipe, 1971
[Box: 1, item: 040] browse
Henry Kyes onstage with circus act at Ford Bowl in San Diego, California, 1958
[Box: 1, item: 041] browse
Big top at Aspen Music Festival; Minneapolis Symphony with Metropolous, conductor, and Dorothy Maynard, soprano, onstage, [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 042] browse
Henry Kyes in band uniform, [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 043] browse
Circus clown, autographed "to Henry Kyes, Pete Mardo, Tent #34, Akron, Ohio", [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 044] browse
Man made up as a woman, autographed to Henry Kyes: "Karl A. Denton", [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 045] browse
Montage featuring Joe Basile, titled "Five by Five - Mr. Basile, if you will", [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 046] browse
Joe Basile with baton, autographed: "Best wishes to Henry Kyes from Joe Basile, 1953", 1953
[Box: 1, item: 047] browse
Circus ringmaster, autographed: "Best wishes . . . to the Paul Whiteman of the Big Top from... Al Springer, 1951", 1951
[Box: 1, item: 048] browse
Jackson Kyes, nephew of Henry Kyes, [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 049] browse
Henry Kyes, [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 050] browse
Clown, autographed: "To my dear friend, Dave Murphy... Rube Simonds", [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 051] browse
Clown with mirror, autographed: " To Wallace... Sincerely, Lawrence Cross", [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 052] browse
Clown with book, [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 053] browse
Two clowns, [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 054] browse
Armand Guerra with seals, Jacksonville Beach, Florida, [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 055] browse
The Yelton Twins with accordions , [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 056] browse
Clown Harold Conn, [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 057] browse
"Tajana, Indian Goddess of Flight", [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 058] browse
Jeanne Sleeter in leotard, [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 059] browse
Sparks Circus Big Show Band with Henry Kyes, leader; roster on back, 1947
[Box: 1, item: 060] browse
Alfredo Landon and his Midgets, [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 061] browse
Eddie Kuhn and wife, [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 062] browse
Joannides Troupe circus performers, [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 063] browse
The Great Barton circus act , [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 064] browse
Henry Kyes and Boy Scout with trumpets at Harold Bros. Circus; note on back lists the circuses Kyes has played for, 1958
[Box: 1, item: 065] browse
Circus balancing act with band on balcony , [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 066] browse
Circus balancing act, [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 067] browse
Circus performer in a balancing act, [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 068] browse
Lady on a circus trapeze, 1949
[Box: 1, item: 069] browse
Man on a circus trapeze above audience, 1949
[Box: 1, item: 070] browse
Man and woman performing a circus act, [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 071] browse
Man and woman on a pedestal for a circus act, [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 072] browse
Circus balancing act; "Galasso" , [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 073] browse
Henry Kyes with trumpet, a piano player, and a drummer, [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 074] browse
Henry Kyes in uniform directing a band, [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 075] browse
Barker in front of a crowd at a circus sideshow, [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 076] browse
Henry Kyes playing trumpet for a young girl and man , [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 077] browse
Balancing act in a circus ring in Detroit, Michigan; autographed on back, 1948
[Box: 1, item: 078] browse
Henry Kyes in a tuxedo leading a circus band, [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 079] browse
Henry Kyes in a tuxedo leading Polack Circus Band , [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 080] browse
Jo and Slivers Madison in front of three elephants; autographed on front, 1952
[Box: 1, item: 081] browse
Henry Kyes with twenty-piece band; written on back: "Please return to Robbins Bros. Circus.", [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 082] browse
Henry Kyes in tuxedo with eleven-piece circus band in uniform, [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 083] browse
Seven-piece band with Charles Cuthbert, leader; band members names appear on back, [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 084] browse
Group of men at a restaurant table for a union officials banquet in Havana, Cuba, with the caption: "Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey"; on back: "Henry Kyes, Bandmaster, Ringling Bros. Circus", [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 085] browse
Henry Kyes and circus performers in front of elephants in Norfolk, Virginia, 1952
[Box: 1, item: 086] browse
Henry Kyes with circus advertisements, [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 087] browse
Fred Mullen in band uniform playing a calliope, [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 088] browse
Two circus clowns , [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 089] browse
Captain Eddy Kuhn with lions, [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 090] browse
Circus advertisements, [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 091] browse
Large group of performers in circus ring, [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 092] browse
Circus trapeze act in front of audience, [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 093] browse
Band in a circus wagon; stamped on back: "distributed to members of the Circus Historical Society", [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 094] browse
Circus trailer being unloaded from railroad flatcar, [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 095] browse
Horses pulling circus wagon in street, [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 096] browse
Line of railway cars; on back: "Kit Carson Show", 1913 - 1914
[Box: 1, item: 097] browse
Group of people in front of circus tent in New Haven, Connecticut, 1934
[Box: 1, item: 098] browse
Group of girls in front of Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey trailer, 1935
[Box: 1, item: 100] browse
Collage of 300 circus performers, [undated]
[Box: 1, item: 101] browse
Three ring circus, 1929
[Box: 1, item: 102] browse
Parade of horses at a three ring circus, 1926
[Box: 1, item: 103] browse