"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.
An Introduction to Becoming Barnum: Interview with Barnum Museum Curator
In this episode of the "Becoming Barnum" podcast, we sit down with Adrienne Saint-Pierre, the Curator of the Barnum Museum's artifact collection and archive. Saint-Pierre explains what a "copybook" is and how the 750-page copybook of letters in the museum's collection offers a unique window into the life and mind of P.T. Barnum. She discusses what listeners can expect to learn about Barnum throughout the course of the podcast and the insights that his letters provide into his personal and professional life. Tune in to hear Saint-Pierre's expert perspective and get a preview of the fascinating journey ahead.
A Bit of France in Bridgeport, Connecticut
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 serving as Mayor for a term.
“A Touch of Yankee” Solves a Problem
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.
The Beginnings of Iranistan
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.
A Mountain of Worries
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.
A New Play for the General
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 more impressive.
Can’t wait to see where it goes!
This first episode was really interesting and I can’t wait to dig into the letters.