Freak Shows in the United States (1840-1940)

Millie and Christina

A disabled child born into slavery in the United States was often separated from his or her family and had little chance for survival. The slave owner did not want the additional expense of feeding and clothing someone they perceived as having less value as a producer. However, if the disability was unusual enough the value of the child might be increased by his or her potential as a moneymaker on the sideshow circuit. Millie and Christina were conjoined (Siamese) twins born into slavery in 1852. They were bought from their original owner for $30,000. As children they were kidnapped and victimized by con men. Eventually, however, they were able to obtain a decent education and they became trained as singers. They traveled widely in the U.S. and Europe. Millie and Christina gained their freedom after the Civil War and were able to make a considerable amount of money through sideshows and publicity stunts.

Also, see information about "Blind Tom" Wiggins, a slave from Georgia who was exhibited as a musical oddity.

Millie and Christina - conjoined twins