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George Pennell Collection of Circus Materials

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George Clingman Pennell was born May 12, 1893 and attended Wake Forest College (1914), graduating with a degree in law. He was a lawyer and author, as well as a College trustee; his gravestone records that his legal clients included the city of Asheville and circuses. Pennell was also a life-long Baptist and church deacon. The son of Thomas and Frances Pennell, he lived and practiced in Asheville, North Carolina, until his death on November 17, 1966.

George Pennell's life as an attorney working in the amusement industry had him juggling multiple vocations. Primarily, he was the attorney for owners and their shows. However, Pennell was also hired by circus and carnival companies to "procure some acts which they desire to contract and pay a flat rate." He organized big fairs with multiple circus companies, and had the "Power of Attorney for rental purposes on the Lot," which allowed the circus to rent land out for the duration of their performances from local owners.

This collection includes selected correspondence, photographs, trade publications, subject files, ephemera, and a variety of other materials.

While the collection is primarily about Pennell's life as an attorney, it also sheds light on the amusement industry in the mid-20th century.

Recent Additions

Below are a few recent additions in the George Pennell Collection of Circus Materials collection.