Think of them as the cast of a reality show—so real they were actually on display 365 days a year at P.T. Barnum’s American Museum.
One of the most popular tourist attractions on the city, the museum was located on Ann Street and Broadway from 1841 to 1868.
The “curiosities” were a revolving cast. In this undated photo are two albinos, three giants, two little people, and two “circassian beauties”—women from the Northern Caucasus.
The “beauties” have the blown-out hair on the left. In the 19th century, women from this part of the world were believed to be unusually attractive and widely desired for Middle Eastern harems. Reportedly Barnum claimed that these two had escaped a Turkish harem.