Zoological Institute Articles of Association, 1835
 Entire Record

Hachaliah Bailey of Somers began his menagerie business around the turn of the 19th century, when he acquired an elephant that he named Old Bet. He began touring the countryside, charging people admission to see his strange animal. During the first three decades of the 19th century, many men in Somers, North Salem and southern Putnam County followed Bailey’s lead, acquiring exotic animals that they exhibited to the public via traveling menagerie shows.

On January 14, 1835, 128 of these men gathered at the Elephant Hotel in Somers to sign the Articles of Association of the Zoological Institute. Some pages of the document have not been scanned because extreme fading of the ink makes them almost unreadable; the transcript, however, is of the complete document.

While the economic panic of 1837 just two years later all but wiped out the Institute, the organization formalized the menagerie business, which eventually became the modern circus, and thus the Articles of Association document is arguably the “birth certificate” of the American circus.

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Title Zoological Institute Articles of Association, 1835 Format Bound
Repository Westchester County Historical Society Number of Pages 17
Collection Manuscripts Dimensions 15" x 10"
Call Number Mss. Box 13 #5 Transcription To Come
Creator Zoological Institute, Somers, NY jpeg File Name zooArticles0-13.jpg; zooArticles28-30.jpg
Creation Date January 14, 1835 tif File Name zooArticles0-13.tif; zooArticles28-30.tif

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