Handicapped

The category and designation "Handicapped" on showhistory.com is one that considers that many persons who sold their likenesses as souvenirs, may not have been performers per-se. Nor did some appear in a sideshow or dime museum venue, but instead plied the streets and byways for their living.

Freak, disabled, handicapped or helpless, they nonetheless chose to make portraits of themselves which they sold while on exhibit. Many of these performers travelled, going from town to town displaying themselves in public, occasionally for pay, but always in the realm of public display whereby they could sell their pitchcards-- or more properly we we call "pity cards," and/or any other trifles (pencils, etc.) they sold to make a living.

Pity cards are a genre of performer-sold artifacts that feature "misery boasting," bragging about their difficulties to elicit larger donations. The worse the personal misery described on the card, the better the chance to get the public to donate, or buy one of the souvenir cards sold by the performer. The opposite of a humblebrag (bragging about yourself by couching it in a phony show of humility.)

Misery-boasting "pity cards" were a genre of pitchcards sold by those injured and unable to make a living any other way. They are related to the performance of the maimed and disabled in the larger world of the sideshow, though these handicapped performers typically didn't travel with shows, but independently exhibited themselves.