The Chang and Eng Archive

Chang & Eng Chang and Eng Bunker, conjoined twins from Siam (now Thailand), came to the U.S. in 1829 and toured the nation and the world over the next four decades. Born in 1811 of Chinese parents, the twins were successful entrepreneurs in Siam before Boston sea captain Abel Coffin contracted to manage them as a touring exhibit. After three years with Coffin, the brothers took over their own careers as a touring curiosity until they earned enough money to purchase a plantation and slaves in North Carolina. Although they had minimal dealings with Barnum, he displayed a wax figure of the twins in the American Museum in the 1840s, published a pamphlet on their lives in 1853, and publicly associated himself with the brothers. With large families to support, Chang and Eng returned to show business, agreeing to a six-week engagement at Barnum's American Museum in 1860. After suffering financial loses during the Civil War, the brothers again agreed to a European tour sponsored by Barnum in 1868. They died in January 1874.

There are 5 matching records. Displaying matches 1 through 5 .


Chang & Eng Extended Family Portrait
Chang and Eng Bunker were born in Siam (now Thailand) of Chinese parents and brought to the United States at the age of 17 by sea captain Abel Coffin in 1829. Over the next decade they toured all over North America, Europe, the Caribbean, and Central America. In 1832, the conjoined twins left Coffin and thereafter managed their own careers as a touring curiosity until they earned enough money to purchase a plantation in North Carolina and retired. They returned to show business briefly in 1860 in partnership with Barnum to earn additional money for their large families. This family portrait from the 1860s shows Chang and Eng with their wives and 18 of their 22 children. It also includes Grace Gates, one of the 33 slaves on their plantation.
Exhibit: Chang and Eng.
Museum Room: Waxworks Room.
Document Type: Image.


Chang & Eng Poster
In 1829 Chang and Eng, conjoined twins, were brought from Siam (now Thailand) to the United States to be displayed as a human curiosity by Abel Coffin, a sea caption. Although only 17 when they left Siam, Chang and Eng were successful entrepreneurs selling preserved duck eggs to support their family. After three years under the management of Coffin, the brothers took over their own careers and substantially changed their public image. They toured the nation using posters such as this to announce their local engagements until they earned enough money to purchase a plantation in North Carolina. The expenses for their large households and the financial losses from the Civil War forced them back into show business in the 1860s.
Exhibit: Chang and Eng.
Museum Room: Waxworks Room.
Document Type: Image.


Chang & Eng Family Portrait
Chang and Eng Bunker were born in Siam (now Thailand) of Chinese parents and brought to the United States at the age of 17 by sea captain Abel Coffin in 1829. Over the next decade they toured all over North America, Europe, the Caribbean and Central America. In 1832, the conjoined twins left Coffin and thereafter managed their own careers as a touring curiosity until they earned enough money to purchase a plantation in North Carolina and retired. Although they had minimal dealings with Barnum, he displayed a wax figure of the twins in the American Museum, published a pamphlet on their lives, and publicly associated himself with the brothers. This photograph shows them with their wives, the Yates sisters and two of their children.
Exhibit: Chang and Eng.
Museum Room: Waxworks Room.
Document Type: Image.


Chang & Eng Pamphlet, 1834
In 1829 Chang and Eng, conjoined twins, were brought from Siam (now Thailand) to the United States to be displayed as a human curiosity by Abel Coffin, a sea caption. Although only 17 when they left Siam, Chang and Eng were successful entrepreneurs selling preserved duck eggs to support their family. After three years under the management of Coffin, the brothers took over their own careers and substantially changed their public. In pamphlets such as this one from 1834, Chang and Eng described their Siamese culture more than their physical uniqueness and countered the paternalistic story promoted by Coffin.
Exhibit: Chang and Eng.
Museum Room: Waxworks Room.
Document Type: Image.


"Living Siamese Twins," 1860
This advertisement, probably from late 1860, reflects the variety of ways that the American Museum’s human exhibits reflected the antebellum era’s politically and socially charged issues of race. The conjoined twins Chang and Eng Bunker appeared for a limited engagement, along with two of their children; visitors could gaze at the men and their family members, and also purchase a pamphlet detailing their lives or a lithograph illustration of the twins. At the same time, museumgoers could view the “white negroes,” children with a pigmentation deficiency born to African-American parents. A third racially provocative exhibit was the “What Is It,” the racially ambiguous “living nondescript,” allegedly discovered in Africa and described by Barnum as a “man monkey.” The combination of such exhibits, on the eve of a Civil War fought over the future of racially-based slavery, suggest that Americans were fascinated with—and sought firsthand proximity to—the ambiguities of racial identity.
Exhibit: Chang and Eng.
Museum Room: Waxworks Room.
Document Type: Image.