PT Barnum’s Career Began

http://daily.jstor.org/joice-heth-how-an-elderly-slave-launched-p-t-barnum-career/?utm_source=internalhouse&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=jstordaily_12032015&cid=eml_j_jstordaily_dailylist_12032015

This is an article from JSTOR, describing how the great showman’s career was launched by an elderly African American women who claimed to have been about 160 years old. After death she was anatomised and her age was dismissed, but as I reported elsewhere, in England there was a woman who was accepted as being this old.

In the article, race rears its ugly head, but not for the first time, I wonder if it is more about poverty, which is often linked to race and of course gender. I am also mindful of the problems of the Irish Giant who died in Britain, and who went to great lengths to try to ensure his body was properly disposed of, but his skeleton ended up in the Hunterian museum.

This article is interesting, but I think a lot of stuff needs to be taken into context to read it properly. Most of all, the simple fact that given the choice of starving or doing something less than pleasant, we all know which path we would take. Altruism is as fine thing, but it doesn’t feed you or your family.

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