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Documents from famed circus donated to Illinois State

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NORMAL, Ill. (AP) _ Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is about to disappear. However, Illinois State University will be able to offer a peek under the big top.

The university says in a news release the son of a man who once helped lead the “Greatest Show on Earth” donated more than 15 boxes of letters and documents that once belonged to his father. The papers will become part of the school’s collection of memorabilia, posters and other papers from circuses around the world.

Harold Ringling North was vice president for decades and the items help tell the story of the circus from its earliest days. They include an 1884 letter from one of his uncles discussing the circus’s first tour schedule.

The circus’s final show is May 21 in New York.