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Special Collections: Guide to the Erskine York Papers

Collection title: Erskine York Papers
Collection number: MS 643
Date of collection:
Size of collection: 1 box


Born in Rockland, Maine, in 1892, Erskine York began his career as "Yorkie the Clown" in 1926. He worked with Charlie Sparks Circus, Hagenback Wallace, Walter L. Mains, Cole Brothers, and Ringling Brothers-Barnum & Bailey Circuses. He left the circus in 1933 and opened "Yorkie's" restaurant in Camden, Maine, in 1944.

Scope and Content Note

Collection relating to circuses and to the circus career of "Yorkie the Clown." Includes correspondence, clippings, and memorabilia.

Contents of Boxes

Box 93

American circus wagons. Evelyn Curro' s fifth annual American calendar: circus wagon edition, 1955. Viking Press, New York.

Chiniguy, Charles. Assassination of Lincoln. Milan, Ill.; The Retail Splitter Press, n.d. Pamphlet

Circus Advertisements. Includes flyers, mailouts, souvenir programs.

Circus features: newspapers. Feature newspaper articles concerning the circus: Daily news series, The Big Top Flop, Aug 7, 8, 9, 1956; Worcester Sunday Telegram, feature parade, When The Big Top Came To Town, May 16, 1966.

Circus programs and itineraries. Includes: Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey programs 1942, 1950, 1951, 1954, 1955, 1956, /1958/

Circus related paperback books. Circus doctor by J. Y. Henderson. As told to Richard Taplinger. New York, Bantum /1952/ No People Like Show People by Maurice
Zolotow. Schnozzola: Gene Fowler's story of Jimmy Durante. Pennabooks: Doubleday, 1951. The Compleat Practical Joker by H. Allen Smith Pocketbooks.

Hooper, Van B. editor. Ideals: circus issue. Milwaukee, Ideals Publishing Co., 1950. Vol. 7, No. 6. Ideals: circus issue. Milwaukee, Ideals Published Co., 1961.

Membership cards. Yorkie the clown' s own membership cards.

Minstrel show and circus song pamphlets. Martz's Song and Joke Book: 1868. Walter L. Main Circus-Show' s Songster. New York, Popular Pub. Co.

Miscellaneous material. Includes postcards, business cards, material from Circus Clown Club.

Miscellaneous publications. Includes: People and places, vol. 10, no. 7; Blackface and music: a new minstrel book by Dailey Paskman; souvenir program for I am a camera; sheet music: Laugh Clown Laugh.

Newspaper clippings: circus and clowns.

Newspaper clippings: Yorkie. News clippings related to Yorkie the clown.

P.T. Barnum's Illustrated News. Barnum' s own advertising flyer for appearance at Rockland, Monday, June 10, 1878.

Photographs: Circus and show business Includes: Bill Robinson, Lew Dockstader, Anna Moffo.

Photographs: Clowns. Includes photographs of Felix Adler, Otto Griebling, Jimmy Armstrong.

Photographs: Emmett Kelly.

Photographs: Yorkie.

Playland, Rye, New York. Photographs.

Publications of circus and clown clubs. Included are: Circus World, vol. 1, n. 1, Jan. 1952; summer 1953: Circus review Christmas issues, 1953 and 1954, winter 1963, spring, 1963; The Circus Fan, v.1, n.1, July, 1955; Show people, undated.

Trade Papers. The magnet: the only magic newspaper in the world: vol. 2, n.7; vol, 3, n.5; vol. 7, n.1. Andy Palmer's great guns: vol. 1, n.1; vol. 1, n.2.

York, Erskine Clifton. Personal correspondence. Letters to Erskine York (Yorkie The Clown) from clown friends, many retired.

York, Erskine Clifton. Scrapbook.


Circus music on phonodiscs. Ringling Bros. Barnun & Bailey circus band. Capitol records, T265. Ringling Bros., and Barnum & Bailey's band: circus music. Columbia: Harmony, HL 7025. Sing along with Emmett Kelly. Roulette, SR25130. Million dollar vaudeville show. Lion Records. L70089. Minstrel show. Somerset Records, P-1600.


Etchings, print, watercolor, poster, photograph. Includes: six etchings published by George Virtue, London, 1839; a print of Felix Adler by Louis Robert Messing; a water color of Yorkie The Clown by Tom Peer; and poster of Hunt Bros. Circus, 1954; Large photo of Felix Adler.


Playland, Rye, New York. Scrapbook: includes postcards, advertising brochures, newsletters, 1920's - 1942.

Finding Aids for selected manuscript collections in the Special Collections Department at Fogler Library are accessible online in URSUS, in a browsable Guide to Manuscript Collections. Please contact Special Collections at or (207) 581-1686 for further information.

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Special Collections Staff: | Revised: 03/31/2015
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