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A Life of Her Own Choosing
Anna Gibbons’ Fifty Years as a Tattooed Lady
by Amelia Klem

” one of the best-known tattooed ladies of her generation. Left: Tattoo Archive Next page: Tattoo Archive . fortune and an interesting life as “Artoria. the girl from Portage County. Next page: A detailed version of the “Last Supper” graces young Artoria’s upper back.201718_EP. found fame.qxd 2/3/06 7:14 PM Page 29 Left: Anna Gibbons.

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Washington.” This was most likely the island in the Wisconsin River now called Treasure Island. In the past it was known by a variety of names. Madison. in rural Portage County to a Norwegian father named Gunder Huseland. Shortly after the move. her father died of typhoid fever leaving her mother and siblings without an income. presents a picture of an unhappy fourteen year old itching for something better. the same year Artoria returned the show. she ran away to join the circus. some circus women were runaways who had felt uncomfortable. A Life of Her Own Choosing Anna Mae Burlingston was born on July 16.2 They lived near Amma’s parents in the town of Linwood.” When she died in the 1980s. SPRING 2006 31 . Milwaukee. Her description of the day the carnival came to her town. so she was just having a soft drink). Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus performed in the Wisconsin cities of Racine. not to join the circus. This story was repeated originally in the book Carnival. Anna could not afford lunch at the café. and has since become the most commonly told story of Anna’s introduction to the world of the sideshow. helped to support themselves and their Circus World Museum These men sell tickets for the Ringling Brothers. including Burlingston Island. at age fourteen. as a youth. and spotted a young woman.3 Her family moved from Wisconsin to Colville.5 Anna met her future husband Charles “Red” Gibbons in Spokane. However. near Stevens Point. He had gone to a department store café for lunch.qxd 2/3/06 7:15 PM Page 31 W I S C O N S I N M AGA Z I N E OF H I S T O RY T he story told about Wisconsin native Anna Mae Gibbons’ entrance into the sideshow world was that.4 Anna left home soon after. Anna’s unusual choice allowed her to trade her ordinary life as a working-class wife. Anna and her sisters. Anna. She became one of the most well-known tattooed ladies of her generation. as told through Lewis’ folksy writing style. performing under the stage name “Artoria.201718_EP.7 Although the “running away” story she told as a performer was much more romantic than the real story. in 1927. the Greatest Show on Earth. by Arthur Lewis. struggling to make ends meet. and his wife Amma Mabel Mason. and Marshfield. 1893. but to work in Spokane. In the summer of 1927. she had performed as a tattooed lady for over fifty years working in everything from carnivals to dime museums to big-name circus sideshows. but her primary motivation was to earn a decent living for herself and her husband. Appleton. something for which she is still remembered. While many early female circus performers were born into performing families. or trapped at home and who sought freedom from societal restraints.1 Anna eventually became one of a select group of women who worked as sideshow tattooed ladies. who at the time went by the name Frank Burlingston. in late 1907.6 The couple married in Spokane in 1912. Almina and Mary. stifled. having been named after families who lived and farmed there. family by working as domestic servants. Red was working as a tattoo artist in an arcade and had been tattooing professionally for some time. on what was called “The Island. Anna’s real path to the sideshow was far different. Barnum and Bailey Combined Circus. it was fabricated for naïve audiences like many other circus tales. sipping a soda and struck up a conversation (at that time. for something extraordinary. She may have “wanted to leave home and see the world” in order to find more freedom and independence.

We stood outside the freak show and a nice-lookin’ guy started to talk to us.’ Tole me the show di’nt [sic] have no tattooed lady. unlike most women of her day. along with Red. popular image of the tattooed lady was that of a strange exhibitionist willing to do just about anything. the tattooed women of the circus and the dime-museum. voiced disapproval. for instance. and the future looked bleak for everyone. over which she had control. it’s a nice way to make a living. There are.qxd 2/13/06 2:19 PM Page 32 W I S C O N S I N M AGA Z I N E After I done my chores. Lewis’ written account recalls Red Gibbons’ promise that if he could tattoo Anna. the crowds. Well. Tattooed women were paid similarly to the top stars. or travel. While these types of entertainment were billed as cultural and educational. all of which paid poorly. the lasting. and express herself differently than what was considered normal. At that time. and then asked me if I would I like to be one. In a 1934 newspaper interview. proud of their ornamented skin and making a profession of their exhibitionism. meet unusual people. men could work in industrial or factory settings. she “could join the show and see the world.” Frank was also a tattoo artist. dime museum. or manual labor-type jobs. While some working-class women were able to get secretarial or teaching positions. a turn-of-the-twentieth-century tattooed performer could expect to make $100-$200 a week. and that he started her career with a small angel tattoo on her wrist. She used the tattoos to create a new life. employment options were few and the pay was poor. and the success of the show or museum she currently worked in. the reality that Anna and Red made the decision to join the sideshow circuit to earn a better living for themselves speaks volumes about the working class at the beginning of the twentieth century and the choices available to them. “The state of the economy at that time was in shambles. In a 1909 article about circus women. me and my sister went to see it. and Annie called herself “Barnum and Bailey’s original tattooed lady.wisconsinhistor y. farming. That is what prompted this extraordinary endeavor on their parts. who made from $125 to $250 a week. Hugh Weir reported: orld Mu Circus W seum Circus W orld Muse um Annie Howard. Anna never publicly discussed her family’s reaction to her unorthodox choice of careers. Anna’s transformation into a tattooed lady didn’t happen until several years after her parents were married and living in California. A feeling not of guilt but of superiority is their distinguishing trait. Anna stated simply: “I got tattooed because I wanted to get tattooed. Charlene. Anna’s reality could not have been further from that stereotype. in his disapproving book Tattoo: Secrets of a Strange Art. . and her husband Frank formed Barnum and Bailey’s “Tattooed Couple. expressed a commonly held opinion of tattooed ladies that lasted well into the twentieth century: There are extroverts as well as introverts among the tattooed women of America. but were expected to perform dangerous stunts. most were restricted to factory work: piece OF H I S T O RY work—which meant assembling items such as garments in the home—and other manual labor jobs. but it is likely that they were rather surprised by this radical choice made by their daughter and son-in-law. they had found their niche: Red worked as a traveling tattoo artist while Anna performed on stage. Joining the circus could be seen as a chance for a more dynamic and certainly more stable economic life. She had defied cultural norms and covered her entire body with inked designs—not just a little butterfly or flower on her shoulder—and even if Anna’s family was open minded. I could join the show and see the world. It was a case of survival!”9 By the early 1920s. and sideshow trade would probably not have been their first choice for their daughter. she chose a career that allowed her to travel. which was common for working-class women. but was considerably more than the average circus woman made. highly paid work. The more adventurous working class women like Anna clearly felt that the circus life was an acceptable career option in an era when many working-class men and women had little chance for an education. Him and me got to talkin. like Parry.8 According to their daughter.” 32 www. and if I let him tattoo me. 1898. depending on her popularity.”12 Tattooed ladies were paid very well—typically.org . photographed ca. the circus. as Practiced by the Natives of the United States. . Albert Parry.13 That was not only substantially more than the average working-class woman could make in jobs available to her.11 While some. Said that he was the tattoo artist. that’s what I done.”10 However. I asked could we come in for free—we didn’t have no money—and he said OK . Anna’s first job was as a domestic servant.201718_EP.

17 Women employed seasonally in tobacco warehouses during 1893 in Wisconsin made between $6 and $12 a week.” performed during the 1880s.18 Tattooed women were not only paid substantially more than many other circus employees. which generally included room and board. Her tattoos.qxd 2/13/06 2:19 PM Page 33 Syracuse University Library. Irene Woodward. while the average weekly salary for a man working in a factory or other industrial job in Milwaukee. . A woman who can turn a double somersault in the air. A “backward back” somersault will bring her two hundred dollars. . her salary depending upon her ability and the novelty of her act. and then earned $45 a month after the first four months of the season.201718_EP. The circus woman receives from twenty-five dollars to two hundred and fifty dollars a week.14 Lower-level circus women were paid substantially less. The pay of the aerialist fluctuates from thirty-five dollars to one hundred and twenty-five dollars a week. Wisconsin. a man working as a clown during 1910 made only $20 a week. while clerical workers in 1909 were only earning about $22 a week. Male circus workers also made much less than tattooed ladies. which would be between $7 and $10 a week. perhaps $250. or can do a “flying act. an average working-class family made between $300 and $500 a year at the turn of the twentieth century. The first performing tattooed women. A male billposter and lithographer during 1906 started at $35 a month. even by 1912 ballet girls were paid only $8 a week. are appreciably less detailed than Artoria’s. Nora Hildebrandt and Irene SPRING 2006 33 . was only between $5 and $11 a week. but they were also paid much more than contemporary working-class men could hope to make. tattooed ladies had become a staple of the American sideshow. “The Original Tattooed Lady. . If she can turn a somersault in the air while the horse is in motion she increases this to one hundred and twenty-five dollars. Special Collections Research Center Circus World Museum This pamphlet from Bunnell’s Museum in New York uses Irene Woodward’s exotic appeal to advertise its shows.16 Teachers were making an average $7 a week in 1900. Inked Bodies and the Sideshow At the time Anna decided to join the circus.15 In comparison. A woman rider of ordinary ability may earn seventy-five dollars a week. laboriously inked by hand.” receives one hundred and twenty-five dollars a week and is always in demand.

19 The tattooed lady’s continuing popularity allowed Anna to continue working until old age forced her to retire in 1981 at the age of 87.” The Captain began performing around 1870 and sometimes claimed to be of a race of bold mountain men from the Balkans. even if it was manufactured. arms. women never showed their ankles. much less their legs. their stomachs. When tattooed women took the stage. later. Although tattooed men did continue performing into the twentieth century. most traveling sideshows had tattooed performers on their rosters to appeal to American audiences’ taste for the exotic and unusual. which required them to show their chests. The first recorded exhibition of a tattooed man in Europe was that of a Polynesian man in 1774. The most commonly used story by most early male tattooed performers was that of the captivity narrative. conscious of the stigma imposed upon her chosen profession and careful about her image.” Hall also said that Anna always looked nice. While she performed onstage as a tattooed lady. and. The tattooed woman had to be willing to remove most of her clothing and display herself for others to see. legs.24 Ward Hall. who employed her later in her career. a man was captured by South Seas Islanders and forced to submit to tattooing against his will. appeared on sideshow stages beginning in the 1880s. Even though she was completely tattooed. Tattooed women. mostly nude on a stage. beginning with men like Captain Costentenus. audiences never saw the tattoos hidden by her costume. regardless of the reason.wisconsinhistor y. Many disapproved of the tattooed women. a human art gallery” made her part of the long tradition of tattooed performers. tattoo girl. including his face. The tradition spread to the United States. and other times. The tattooed men could never hope to compete with these tantalizing stories of women’s abduction and forced tattooing especially when combined with seeing an almost nude woman on display. wore a little makeup. and the phenomenon of the tattooed lady continued until the last tattooed woman’s retirement in 1995. offstage Anna was reputed to be a demure and modest woman.” “Tsavella. and eyelids. the Captain dropped out of sight.” “Tattooed Man of Burma.201718_EP. who was one of the most popular tattooed men of the nineteenth century.” ‘The Turk. Tattooed performers were fairly common by the 1910s. Anna’s transformation into “Artoria. however. “She was a very dear. needed to display as much inked flesh as possible. ears. she never missed a show. this new exhibition was not really considered “clean” family entertainment.21 He had 388 symmetrically arranged and interwoven images that covered his entire body. at least in Anna’s case. sweet old lady. was unearned. including “the Greek Alexandrino. She was so reliable. Moral codes and dress traditions for women during the late nineteenth century prescribed strict codes of dress. now women were being captured by “savages” in the American West.” “Captain Georgi. and tattooed against their will.org . polite society expected women to dress and behave modestly. The bad image given to tattooed ladies because of their willingness to appear on stage scantily-clad.qxd 2/13/06 2:20 PM Page 34 W I S C O N S I N M AGA Z I N E Woodward. said of Anna. mean- 34 www. Even by the early twentieth century.20 He went by a number of names. not the South Seas.22 By the early 1890s. and got her hair fixed. the women eventually edged them off the stage. to be a Greek sailor who was captured and forcibly tattooed by Pacific Islanders. and that she also often talked for herself.23 While tattooed men began performing about eighty years before women realized the potential of permanent body decoration. when the tattooed woman’s popularity had increased.” and “The Living Picture Gallery. rebuking the accepted “moral codes” of the day. which certainly did not include appearing OF H I S T O RY Courtesy of the author This elegant studio portrait was used to advertise Artoria’s show as well as her husband’s skill with a tattoo needle. the appearance of tattooed women brought a sexual allure to the sideshow that a tattooed man never could. they adapted this narrative to their needs. took care of herself.

28 The electric pen never succeeded as an office machine. motor-driven device with an oscillating needle intended to prick a sheet of paper. but would have taken a considerable length of time to complete.29 The new machine was a battery operated. By the time Anna Gibbons began working as a tattooed performer. 1884) representation of the forcible tattooing of the famed Captain Constentenus. the master copy in a simple. acrobats. closely spaced holes.201718_EP. while the reciprocating needle made shallow wounds and pushed ink into them. inexpensive form of printing. such as circus stars. “Writing” with an electric pen resulted in words that were drawn as strings of tiny. many more than the 150 to 200 per minute possible by hand. A full-body tattoo job would not only have been extremely painful. Right: Captain Constentenus’ intricate designs covered him from head to toe and even decorated his scalp. O’Reilly began experimenting with the pen as a tattooing device. the tattooist made tiny pinpricks into the skin with a pointed stick or needle or a “small hammer fitted with a sharp point. if frequently false.qxd 2/3/06 7:17 PM Page 35 W I S C O N S I N M AGA Z I N E ing that she did her own lectures. tattooing was done “by hand” with a needle poked into the skin.25 As with many other performing women of her day. The tattooist drew the design on the skin using the machine.26 The traditional method of tattooing had existed for millennia.000 skin-pricks per minute. modifying it slightly and receiving a patent for his new device in 1891. hand-held electric motor that controlled a single needle or a row of up to five needles. stories. The new machine. when tattooed ladies began exhibiting themselves. The paper. the ability to use performance to earn a decent living outweighed the negative stigmas of performing onstage.”27 The wounded area was then rubbed with a chemically stable pigment and remained there. OF H I S T O RY Edison’s 1875 invention of the electric pen facilitated the advancement of the process of tattooing: [the pen was a] hand-held. like this (ca. but had become considerably less so. the actual process of getting tattooed was easier. all tattoos were applied by hand. and both speed and techniques were improved with the invention of the electric tattoo machine. became a stencil. Below: Circus posters often advertised their attractions’ exciting. The Evolution of Tattooing In the 1880s. Circus World Museum Atlas of Portraits of Diseases of the Skin . Before tattooist Samuel O’Reilly began his successful experiments with Thomas Edison’s electric pen in the early 1890s. visible through the upper layers of the skin. one dot at a time. now commonly referred to as a “tattoo gun.” could produce up to 3. and actresses.30 The process was still painful and time consuming. when placed in a special frame. However.

Anna’s tattoos. George Washington appeared on her chest and “The Last Supper” was reproduced across her upper back. tattoos a young woman’s social security number on her leg—a popular choice of twentieth centattoo when the numbers were first assigned.wisconsinhistor y. which was more often than not concocted.” part of Michelangelo’s “Holy Family. The “running away” story was false. an’ the doctors sailors.201718_EP. t u r y. Artoria commented complex shading. how many people come up an’ symbols taken from common tattoo designs popular with ask me was I born this way.32 her tattoos. The designs that appeared on this era of tattooed ladies were naïve audience members could sometimes not imagine how detailed pictures that employed a wider variety of colors and the performer had come to be tattooed.31 A Performer’s Life on the Road A tattooed l a d y ’ s a c t wa s simply to stand on a stage. confirming their “Annunciation. Red Gibbons.” and a outlandish beliefs. were nothing more than crude line drawings and You wouldn’t believe. b u t p e r formers were still just as likely to As Anna’s tattoos show. but Artoria included full-color reproductions of a portion of Botticelli’s had taken her cues from the audience itself. When Anna worked during the 1930s. but group of angels influenced by Raphael. The sideshow tradition had always included false and not just scratching rough outlines of pictures. in a 1934 newspaper article: Woodward. and believable to modern audiMadonna on her right thigh and the Child on her left. Her collection exaggerated stories about the performer’s past. on her 36 www. and Annie Howard revealed tattoos that. was interested in reproducing beautiful artwork. I always say yes.qxd 2/3/06 7:26 PM Page 36 W I S C O N S I N M AGA Z I N E OF H I S T O RY stomach was a schooner under full sail flying the American f lag. were images taken from figure it was on account of my mother must have gone to too classical artwork. The tales of “forced tattooing by savages” had gone out of favor by Tattoo Archive the turn of the Anna’s husband. the technique employed by many make up wild tales. while numerous. though. in contrast. who did all of many movies.org . Anna had the far more romantic. excitement in seeing a fully tattooed woman was still high. Red Gibbons. Earlier images of women like Hildebrandt. exciting. the tattoo artists improved with the invention of the machine. Her husband. displaying her decorated body for t he spect ator s while giving a short speech about her life.

Rutgers University man. ing 1932 and 1933. she worked for the Johnny nothing to put in the blow-off that day. Charlene Anne Gibbons. her future employer Ward Hall says real. solved after Red had a talk with him. and then had several ties.40 According to Hall.”35 Anna used the stage name “Artoria. during the inside lecturer. the Hall and Christ sideshow operator them all—far stranger than anything we have out here on the who would employ her in her old age. she was Their reasoning was that people could see her back at Ringling Brothers. He was William Heckler’s famous flea circus.36 In his written memoir. this woman is a manHubert’s was a popular dime museum in Times Square. “she was bored choices.” Both she and Red a failure as an office machine.” retirement in the early 1980s.46 When she began working for Hall and Christ. who is at Hubert’s Museum on 42nd Street in New York City. the “armblow-off attraction was racier than other attractions in the less wonder. Usually the and Iko. J. She didn’t need the islanders. thinking that by marking SPRING 2006 37 .201718_EP. Jack Woods. Edison’s electric pen was 39 las. because. told Ward that they had however. as they had no other option. He was the victim of both a brutal have seen numerous strange people. My Very Unusual Friends. 1920. or Anna shared the stage with performers such as Eko 10-in-1 show. the “peculiar people. Woods wanted to put Artoria back during the Depression Anna and Red would work on a show there.qxd 2/13/06 2:21 PM Page 37 W I S C O N S I N M AGA Z I N E OF H I S T O RY with the Dell and Travis Carnival after sideshow manager ences than tales of forced tattooing at the hands of South Seas Dean Potter ran an ad in Billboard. she worked for Kortes and McKay’s costume. when she was in her 70s. and. By the that Anna told him that during the twenties. human oddirobbery and a construction accident. Oklahoma in 1934. Hall says that Ringling Brothers-Barnum and Bailey Circus. In the worked for Foley and Burk Shows durand couldn’t work. incorporating modern ideas about freedom and from Red’s family’s land. tions.47 At the Texas State Fair in DalInvented in 1875. the California tattooed was employed as Artoria. not a born freak. Jones Sideshow. often remembered for She met and married a man 3 times older than herself. Museum in Los Angeles. which failed.43 Anna returned to work during the 1970s other man that he marked her body. on the bally platform outside the sideshow. freaks. powerful tool for the inking of human skin. espein the summer. and in the winter they went to Oklahoma cially an elderly one. the hands of tattooist Samuel O’Reily. It also showed how the circus tale was able to money.37 companies were limited to the carnival circuit. freak shows had begun to lose their poputried to take “liberties with her” causing her to leave the larity and instead of touring with national circus show. the “rubber-skin show and was often limited to men The Edison Papers. the “smallest only. working for sideshow manand know that the oddities inside the tent were ager Clyde Ingalls. which operated from 1925 until 1965. for which an extra fee was charged. but she refused her first contract with “The Greatest Show on Earth” on because she had a show to give. and she was billed as “Miss Artorian. in her In 1925 and 1926. mice eaters and so jealous of her and afraid that she would be attracted to some bearded ladies. the 1931 season. people who were born in strange condisurgeries on his injured eyes.33 She worked with Ringling Brothers until the 1924 season when she switched to the Hagenbeckken arm. leaving him blind. would be unsuccessful in the blow-off. During the Great Depression. they didn’t but misspellings were common in the names of performers. back here. but put her. you Red after he went blind. put her in the sideshow tent right away. Clyde Ingalls still managed the Anna later worked inside the sideshow tent with Hall and sideshow. she was supported in part by Oklahoma oil royalties adapt. had the itch to get back to show biz. Anna began working for the Hall and Christ Sideshow. and she quickly came to the attention of dressing room semi-trailer and broke her arm.” not “Artorian. while you have been in this tent. 41 where he would work as a “rough neck” in the oil fields. if you will. tattooed girl” in 1919 with the working for Potter. According to Potter. and. she wasn’t born strange.” Strecho. was born while an introduction for Artoria that Ward later recounted: they were living in Cushing. She would remain there until her lady. She was as a young woman. freaks of nature.”44 While Anna became “Artoria.42 Anna retired during the late 1940s and 1950s to care for Ladies and gentlemen. while she was working stage. made monstrosity. or fake. but Ward was of the opinion that a tattooed lady. Ingalls 1970s. and lonely. Woods came up with Their daughter.” Jack Huber. The blow-off was the last act in a multiple act sideshow. we have this human oddity.” and Major Mite. However. by the 1927 season. eventually working as the blow-off attraction. she fell coming down the steps of her Pete Kortes Show. But behind this curtain we have probably the strangest of She met Ward Hall. she worked all day with a broDecember 4. one of the performers became ill man in the world. very beautiful.45 Around 1978. rather than gaffed. Anna signed they wanted to take her to the hospital. Anna worked on RinModern audiences viewed many sideshows and the gling Brothers-Barnum and Bailey Sideshow again for performers with suspicion and skepticism. but the earlier problem with Ingalls was Christ Shows.38 During 1931.34 The show started in Cincinnati. the pen was modified into a mid-1930s. where she Wallace Sideshow Annex.

after hearing his pitch. but now a very elderly. was captivating. Michigan. Anna. while working on a carnival in Muskegon. Everyone gathered in the blow-off. and Ward summoned Anna.48 Ward remembers that people loved it. She is waiting on the stage now to welcome you. couldn’t hear the false story. her from head to toe. Artoria. she appeared with his show at the Wisconsin State Fair in the mid-1970s. no longer a young woman. According to Ward Hall.”52 Finally. still performing more than fifty years into her career. And she is here. the main assistant. “I am no monster. In 1979. “you never saw anyone’s face beam with happiness. When he pulled back the curtain. she was surrounded by interesting people and was doing something she enjoyed. Hall and she wanted to see him right now. There was only one flaw: Jack Woods amplified his voice. saying he needed to talk to her. the story. the pitch was so successful that for later performances Woods turned down the sound system so that Anna.201718_EP.” Ward observed. widowed lady. But those marks that he put on her body when she was young are still there and they will be there for the remainder of her life. Anna.”50 How- ever. he remembers that she showed signs of dementia and became 38 www.51 Anna’s time with the Hall and Christ Shows was happy. now hard of hearing. and for one performance it was too loud. as much as that lady did. he is never to call me such a thing as a monstrosity again.qxd 2/13/06 9:28 PM Page 38 Sideshow World Ward Hall A beautiful and proud Artoria in her heyday. Ward remembers that she told him. Marge Porter. Ward Hall had to insist that Anna retire. gave very stern orders that she wanted “to see Mr. set it all up. the ladies working for the show organized a surprise birthday party for her.”49 Anna was upset that Jack called her a monstrosity. she would no longer be attractive to any other man. and when everyone said “Happy Birthday.org . while false.wisconsinhistor y.

22–23. 2005. 33. OF H I S T O RY 19. “In New York. 7. p. U. 158. Circus World Museum.com. “Anna Gibbons research. 26. 11 (Spring/Summer 1987): p. “On Display: Tattooed Entertainers in America and Germany. based on her research for her masters thesis. She lives in Milwaukee with her fiancé. remarkable character—and a little help from the tattoo needle. 1970): p. 37–38. 29. Charlene Anne Gibbons.” Frederick (Md.” Nov. Lewis. “Photos of Artoria Gibbons. Robert L. “‘Say. and her image still appears on postcards and in books. Ward Hall. March 19. 11. 22. “Artoria. 1924. V. p. “Artoria. 2005. Gibbons. University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee.nber. and an interesting life with her bravery. “8.com. 4 (Summer 1986): p. Weir. 1991. accessed Oct. Registration of Birth for Anna Mae Burleson. “Obituaries. The Tattoo Historian Magazine. 12. 26. David Morton.” Oct. 1873–1893. Jan. but at the end of the season she moved to Tennessee to live with her daughter’s family. 17. Hall. Tattoo: Secrets of a Strange Art. 102–103. 6. 21. 36. 2. Charlene Anne Gibbons.” Bristol Herald Courier/Virginia-Tennessean. 52. Parkinson Library and Research Center. Fifth Ward. 233. NJ: Princeton University Press. Wisconsin. p. 3 (Winter 2002): p. Carnival. 1934.. “Artoria draft. 1882–1995. April 21. “On Display: Tattooed Entertainers in America and Germany. Carnival. Oct. “In New York. Ibid. (New York: Oxford University Press.” email conversation with the author. Gibbons.” In addition to her historical research into tattoo history. 1808-1907. “Anna Gibbons research. it was around 1981 when he told her that he didn’t have a job for her the next year. NBER Macrohistory VIII: Income and Employment. “Huseland Family Tree.” New York Times. Milwaukee Area Research Center. Have You Met Lydia?’ A History of American Tattooed Ladies of the Circus. 18.” Hampton’s Broadway Magazine. 37.” p.” Oct. 1927. p. simply her church affiliation and the names of those surviving her. 1978): p. p. 27. “Artoria draft. 12. Employment Contracts Folder. “Question or comment from the UWSP Archives Web site. 26. Albert Parry. Robert C.) 8. Programs. Baraboo. Wisconsin. C. interview with the author.S. Gibbons. “Once and Future Tenant Flamboyant Enough For the Neighborhood. Oct. Lewis. Wisconsin. Bureau of Health Statistics. granddaughter. she is currently planning her next tattoo. The Tattoo Historian Magazine.” p. 53. “Tattooing: The Technology for Mass Production of Tattoos Originated and Quickly Matured in the Nineteenth Century. “Artoria draft. accessed Oct. 32. 2004. 10. Lewis. 12. “Anna Gibbons research. “Anna Gibbons research.54 Her long career made her part of American popular culture. Carnival. 44.” email conversation with the author. 34.” Billboard. 15. Ward Hall. Hall. Ibid. p.org/databases/macrohistory/contents/chapter08. 4. ed. 2005. 2005. 60–61. Alice Kessler-Harris.53 Clearly. 35. June 1909. 802. Golda Meir Library. 2005.ancestry. 1971): p. fortune. p. there was no mention of her lifelong career. “The Women of the Circus.” Oct. 53. 1934. Arthur H. Gibbons. at age 91. Annual Salaries of Clerical Employees. Oettermann. Nesbit. p. 158–159. Eldridge. 2005. Notes 1. p. 25. 51. she became a recognized name to sideshow and tattoo fans. 23. 77. 1985. Barnum and Bailey Small Collections. Removing Them Still Hasn’t Caught Up. no. Carnival. 4.. Anna was a remarkable woman from the beginning as shown by her selection of careers. 1933. 40. 49. Out to Work. W. Mervyn Rothstein. 39. Stephan Oettermann. 1985. 2005. The girl from Portage County had found fame. 13. 20. Robert L. 26. 2005.) Post. 11. “Births. 43. 27. 123. Gibbons. Like most other obituaries of tattooed ladies. Ibid. Women Vertical File. 4. accessed Oct. 50. Girl Show: Into the Canvas World of Bump and Grind. 46. Her obituary mentions that she lived in the Bristol Nursing Home at the time of her death. “Huseland Family Tree.” p. May 3. ed. 20. Parkinson Library and Research Center. Toronto: ECW Press. August 26. “8.” Oct. Baraboo.html (a08059. 2000): p. two sisters. Lewis. As Ward recalls. 9500588 3. 200. 11–13. By the time she died on March 18. interview with the author. 15. p. 26. 2004). Circus World Museum. Gibbons. p. 42. 203. “Births.” www. Wisconsin Historical Society. She currently works in the Special Collections Department at the UWM Libraries and is working on a manuscript on the history of tattooed ladies. 77.” email conversation with the author. Hall. Sideshow and Dime Museum. 2005. 26. Ibid. no. 267. 11. Ibid. Ringling Brothers. Wisconsin Series 2072. Jane Caplan. 158–159. About the Author Amelia Klem received her Masters degrees in History and Library Science from UW–Milwaukee in 2004 and also holds a bachelors degree in Fine Arts. Judy Tuttle. 26.” email conversation with the author.ancestry. Anna cried and wanted to stay. 2005.” Billboard. Ibid.” Oct.” www.” Invention and Technology. 160. p. 6. 38. 1999: p. p. Nov. 26.” Wisconsin Magazine of History 69. S. 2005. Hugh C. p. interview with the author. Michael B. U. “8.000 on Hand as Ringling-Barnum Circus Gets Under Way: Big Outdoor Events Set. 45.” email conversation with the author. 17 no. 2005. 30. 54. 26. 48. National Bureau of Economic Research. (New York: Collier Books. and that she was a member of the Episcopal Church. 28. April 11. November 14.” Oct. 2. 12. 1910 Census. tape recording of a telephone conversation. April 23. A. http://www. (Princeton. Leslie Fielder.” in Written on the Body: The Tattoo in European and American History. Lewis. 16.” p.000 on Hand as Ringling-Barnum Circus Gets Under Way: Big Outdoor Events Set. 41. Ibid. The Tattoo Historian Magazine. 38. 2004. W. Gibbons. Stencell.201718_EP. 2003): p. (New York: Simon & Schuster. Ibid.000 on Hand as Ringling-Barnum Circus Gets Under Way: Big Outdoor Events Set. “Making a Living in Wisconsin.” Billboard. Ibid. 24. 5.” Nov. April 23. 47. 2005. My Very Unusual Friends. Average Annual Earnings of Teachers 1890–1928 and a08057a. Stephan Oettermann. 77. 200. Washington). “Anna Gibbons research. 1931. City of Spokane. Carnival. 14. 275. Charlene Anne Gibbons. 9. Index to registrations of births [microform].qxd 2/3/06 7:28 PM Page 39 W I S C O N S I N M AGA Z I N E somewhat paranoid. (Spokane County. Ibid. “Anna Gibbons research.” Billboard.. as Practiced by the Natives of the United States. SPRING 2006 39 . Ibid. January 1. 53. 6. taking time off only to care for her ailing husband. 2005. (Gunder Huseland was the Norwegian name for Frank Burlingston. “Hagenbeck-Wallace off to Good Start at Cincinnati. She would go to eat during the break and wouldn’t be able to find her way back to the sideshow. “On Display: Tattooed Entertainers in America and Germany. 121. 156–157.” p. 37. p. Freaks: Myths and Images of the Secret Self. including her daughter. Ringling Brothers Employment Contracts. a brother. p. Pennsylvania 1909–1926. p. Gibbons. Nov. (New York: Trident Press. “Goliath of Circuses Opens 1927 Season with Greatest Show Human Eye Ever Saw. Interview with the author. 2005. V. and a sister-in-law. 27. 9.” p. 28. Ibid. she had performed as a tattooed lady for well over fifty years. 31.

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