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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2019 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Evil Clowns: 1925

Evil Clowns: 1925

Washington circa 1925. "Y.W.C.A. Circus." Very little to go on here, but maybe that's just as well. Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.

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I knew it!

Oh my gosh. This photograph startled me out of my chair. I knew clowns were evil and this photograph proves it. Bad Clown.

Been There

As an old, retired circus clown the comments here break my heart, but that photograph scares the snot out of me.

Re: Pagliacci

Now I realize what this photo reminded me of... the Seinfeld episode where their unhinged accquaintance was dressed as Pagliacci. And the look on Kramer's face when he was asked by the clown whether he was still scared of clowns.



Didn't anyone else see Heath Ledger's Joker in the guy in the middle?


The Head Clown seems to be enjoying this a little too much.

Clown Antecedents

Historically speaking, the clown "look" can be traced back to the costumes of commedia dell'arte in 16th-century Italy.


Underestimated the creepiness factor again.

These two "Circus" photos

look like the Mikado met Pagliacci during a Midsummer's Night Dream.

Kalico Kurtain Klown Kostume

That's the first Maria von Trapp original clown costume I've ever seen. I also don't believe I've ever seen clowns in sensible dress shoes with tidy spats.

Point of order

"Evil Clowns" is redundant.

[As is this comment! - Dave]

Just what we'd expect.

Clowns and Washington go hand in hand.

Meeting of the kinds

Sort of Emmett the Clown meets the KKK.


Now there's some good fuel for a clown phobia.

All Dolled Up

Who's to say these aren't Klansmen all dolled up in their Sunday-go-to-Beatin' robes?

Hey little girl

Wanna have some candy? I'm sure someone can answer this, is there some historical basis for a clown costume? Some circuses have these "Zippy the Pinhead" costumes, is it because it is easier to smuggle kids out of a circus?
P.S. clowns creep me out.

Can't Sleep.....

Clowns will eat me.

Note to self: do not read Shorpy when you have insomnia. Now you will have nightmares!



No laughing matter

The guy in the middle is trying to eat my soul with his eyes. Also, calling clowns evil is entirely redundant. What else could they possibly be?

Send in the Klowns

Just when I thought those Klan photos were the kreepiest ever, this showed up. All those parading Klansmen would have screamed and run the other way if their parade had collided with the YWCA Circus parade.

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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