The National Fairground Archive

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The National Fairground Archive


The National Fairground Archive (NFA) was inaugurated by the Vice Chancellor of the University of Sheffield in 1994, with the support of the Showmen’s Guild of Great Britain and the Fairground Association of Great Britain. Housed in the Western Bank Library, it is a unique collection of photographic, printed, manuscript and audiovisual material covering all aspects of the culture of travelling showpeople, their organisation as a community, their social history and everyday life; and the artefacts and machinery of fairgrounds. Our key collecting areas include fairs, shows, magic and illusion, circus, variety, entertainment spaces such as the sea-side, pleasure garden and amusement park, and many aspects of variety and performance.

The NFA collections are continuing to grow: there are now over 80,000 images in the photographic collection, in addition to audio and video material, journals and magazines, and nearly 4,000 monographs. The collection also includes a unique body of ephemera (programmes, handbills, posters, charters and proclamations, plans and drawings).

The NFA represents an important part of the cultural heritage of the nation. It is a primary resource of rich potential for research at every level; it provides a new and exciting source of teaching material for primary and secondary education, and provides access to a wealth of popular cultural history both for the academic researcher and for the public at large.