The Ringling Collection is comprised of cabinet cards, postcards and photographs of American and British actors and actresses. The Collection is one of several housed in the Belknap Collection for the Performing Arts in the Smathers Libraries‘ Department of Special Collections on the campus to the University of Florida (Gainesville, FL). This glorious assemblage of images traces the history of stagecraft through Shakespearean prints, 18th, 19th and 20th century European and American handbills, posters and heralds, souvenir photographs and prints of the legendary performers of the past three centuries, numerous production and publicity stills of 20th century plays and films, and hundreds of individual photographs of the legendary and the now forgotten stars of minstrel, vaudeville and burlesque.
The Ringling Collection is important not simply for its images of the idols of a bye-gone era but for its depictions of period clothing and hair styles. Aside from clothing and hair styles, something of the period’s social mores and attitudes can be seen among the poses taken; those taken by men can be distinguished from those taken by women and, alternately, by children.