National Fairground and Circus Archive awarded £460,000 for digitisation and engagement activities

Read more about the exciting plans for the NFCA and how this funding will help us to open up the archives

	 Photographic postcard of the Alexime Troupe in costume. .  French flying trapeze performers, led by Alphonse Bernier who was trained by Cesari.  With Alfred Clarke's circus, 1914, in Colombo, consisting of Mr and Mrs Alexime with their assistant Miss Marthe Hamel.  Mrs Victoria Alexime also gave an equestrian performance. Noted at the Great Continental Circus, Crystal Palace, London, 1924-25, when the lady executed a triple somersault in her descent.  At T.E. Read's Gt. Yarmouth Hippodrome, in 1926.  Back

The National Fairground and Circus Archive (NFCA), part of the University of Sheffield Library’s Special Collections, Heritage, and Archives, has received annual funding of £92,768 from Research England’s Higher Education Museums, Galleries and Collections Fund for the next five years to help with outreach activities and to share the collections with wider audiences digitally.

The fund provides an annual allocation to higher education museums, galleries and collections to support the cost of serving the wider research community. 

The National Fairground and Circus Archive (NFCA) embodies the history of popular entertainment from the seventeenth century onwards. It covers every aspect of the travelling entertainment sector  and contextualises its evolution, cross-cultural impact, and global spread and influence. It holds a vast collection of records on fairground, circus, variety and music hall, magic, sideshows, boxing booths, travelling cinematograph shows, pleasure and zoological gardens, amusement and theme parks, menageries, performing animals, optical illusion, travelling exhibitions, seaside entertainment and world’s fairs and expositions.

Its collections are open to all researchers and also include a large library containing books and journals covering all relevant and associated topics.

We are delighted to receive this funding, which will further support the extensive and innovative digitisation and engagement activities of the National Fairground and Circus Archive team. It is a recognition of the cultural significance of our fantastic collections, as well as their value as a unique research resource. We are excited that this funding will enable us to share them more broadly than ever before.

Anna Clements, Director of Library Services and University Librarian

The collections are shared worldwide through Digital National Fairground and Circus Archive and a programme of outreach activities, which includes exhibitions, films, and collaborations with researchers, artists and community groups. 

The funding will be used to share these unique collections more broadly, through digitisation and digital engagement, to encourage and enable their use for research, and to support our outreach activities. 

The funding was confirmed following the 2023 review of the Higher Education Museums, Galleries and Collections Fund. The funding allocation will be made on an annual basis for the next five years from 2024/2025, subject to the next spending review and available funding from the government. 

For further information please contact Angela Haighton, Associate Director (Cultural Collections and One University), University of Sheffield Library:

Image: Alexime Troupe - National Fairground and Circus Archive - University of Sheffield Library Digital Collections (

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