Suggestions and Rules Employees Ringling Brothers Circus Circa 1910
transcribed by Jeffrey Sward1

The object of these rules and suggestions is not to limit the employees in the enjoyment of their rights, but rather to promote harmony and goodwill, and co-operate with our employees in conducting our institution in a business-like, high-standard manner.

The personal appearance and behavior of each individual is important, not only in so far as the relations of employee with employee are concerned, but equally as much for the impression we make on the public. We should want the "town folks" to feel that the "show folks" are real men and women and ladies and gentlemen as well.

Undoubtedly few of us would adopt a course opposite to some of the rules given; however, the rules are made to protect the majority against imposition by the few who might thoughtlessly annoy and disturb:

1. Be cleanly and neat in dress and avoid loud display.

2. Absence from work will not be permitted without making arrangement with your department head. If this is not possible and you are unavoidably absent, you must send information at the earliest possible moment in order that your place may be filled; and on your return, immediately give explanation of cause of absence. In case you should be ill and not able to leave the cars, you must immediately notify the head porter, who will send a message to the show grounds.

3. No employees will be permitted to loan money to other employees and receive any profit from the transaction.

4. Gambling, especially in the cars or near the cars, on or near the show ground, is strictly prohibited.


5. No pet animals, revolvers, intoxicants or inflammables allowed in the sleeping cars. Candles must not be used in the cars; if an individual light is wanted, supply a "flash light" type electric. No others will be allowed.

6. No smoking in cars at any time.

7. Loud talking, singing, playing upon musical instruments, or disturbing noises in or near the cars must stop at 11 P.M.

8. Do not clean teeth at wash-bowls.

9. Cooking is prohibited in the cars.

10. Be considerate in using toilet rooms. 

CAUTION - Look both ways; be careful in crossing railroad tracks or in walking upon same.


11. No dogs allowed in the dining room during meal time.

12. Coats must be worn in the dining room at meal time.

13. When the "HOTEL" flag is up the meal is ready; when the blue flag is up the meal is over.

14. No food nor dishes can be taken from the dining room without permission.

15. Drinking glasses are thoroughly washed and rinsed. Do not waste water washing them at the drinking tank.

16. People bringing friends into dining room to eat will purchase meal tickets at the commissary wagon.

17. MEAL HOURS: Breakfast will be over at 9:15, excepting on late arrival of show. Lunch will be over at 12:45 noon.

18. People will remain outside the guard rope until the flag is raised.


19. Take the same care of company wardrobe as you do your own; do not sit on dirty boxes, pedestals, wagons, on the ground, etc., while wearing spectacle costumes.

20. Ladies must return bundled wardrobe to wardrobe mistress as soon as possible.

21. Gentlemen must fold costumes and place in proper location.

22. Do not bring liquors or intoxicants into the dressing rooms.

23. Remain outside of Big Tent until time for your act or assistance.

24. Do not take strangers or friends into dressing rooms without permission.

25. Cooking, making coffee will not be allowed in dressing rooms.

26. In going from dressing tents to dining tents do not pass through the menagerie or circus tents, and never pass through the main entrance.

27. Do not chew gum while taking part in spectacle.

28. Male performers are not to visit with the ballet girls. The excuse of "accidental" meetings on Sunday, in parks, at picture shows, etc., will not be accepted.

29. The use of alcohol or gasoline irons for pressing is strictly prohibited on show grounds or in the cars.

30. Do not lounge in wardrobe department of dressing rooms.

31. Do not practice or rehearse in main tent after 6:30 P.M.

32. Do not change position of trunks as placed in the dressing room.

33. Do not play ball in the main tent or "back yard."

34. Employees listed for Street Parade must be dressed and ready to "mount" at 10 o'clock A.M., unless notified to report earlier.

35. Do not run horses to "catch up" in parade - be on hand in time.

36. Do not sit "crossed legged" on floats or tableaux wagons.

37. Button up coats, etc.

38. Absolutely, do not chew (gum or tobacco) or smoke in parade.

40. Report to the management at once any accident you may observe which may have been caused by the parade.

41. Do not loiter about the "front" of the show grounds.

42. Do not nod to friends or acquaintances who may be in the audience.

43. Avoid arguments with other employees. Be agreeable and promote harmony.

Since you have chosen to travel with the circus, it is evident that your success depends upon the success of circuses in general, and the one by which you are employed in particular. Therefore, the greater the success of the circus, and especially the part of that success to which you contribute, the better it is for you and the more valuable you will be in your profession. - Don't overlook this point - do your best - it is for you first and the company second.


All the foregoing rules and suggestions will also apply for the government of the Ballet Girls. In addition thereto the following especial rules are given for their guidance:

1. Do not dress in a flashy, loud style; be neat and modest in appearance.

2. You are required to be in the sleeping car and register your name not later than 11 P.M. and not to leave car after registering.

3. Girls must not stop at Hotels at any time.

4. You are not permitted to talk or visit with male members of the Show Company, excepting the management, and under no circumstances with residents of the cities visited.

6. The excuse of "accidental" meetings will not be accepted.

7. You must be in the ballet dressing room at 1 o'clock for matinee and at 7 o'clock P.M. for night performance.

8. You must not go into the big dressing room.

NOTE - If some of the rules seem harsh and exacting, please remember - experience has taught the management that they are necessary. It is intended to protect the girls in every possible way. Good order and good behavior are necessary, if you are to be comfortable and happy. The management urges each girl to live up to the spirit of the rules as well as to the letter.


1Fox, Charles Philip. A Ticket to the Circus: A Pictorial History of the Incredible Ringlings. Seattle: Superior Publishing Company, 1959. Page 129. Reprint of original poster, cited by authors as 50 years old as of publication date.


All written content of this web site is solely the editorial opinion of Jeffrey Sward. All images, graphics, and written content of this web site, including the html files, are creative products covered by copyright law. All content copyright Jeffrey Sward 1975-2019. All rights reserved. No portion of this web site or its constituent elements may be reproduced in any form, by any means, without prior written permission. So there.