The Two Headed Nightengale

Project B has a large collection of 19th Century original circus sideshow star photographs including this amazing image of Millie and Christine McKoy.  They were conjoined twins whose parents had no control over their fate. Not even a year old, they were sold by their North Carolina slave owner and then re-sold over and again to promoters and agents who exploited the commercial potential of these unusual girls, who shared a pelvis but otherwise had complete sets of limbs and organs.

Remarkably, one of their owners reunited them with their mother, and (with an eye toward their performing careers) provided them education in foreign languages and instruction in music, ballet and recitation. The McKoy twins—often referred to simply as Millie-Crissie—soon became among the most celebrated “oddities” in 19th-century entertainment. Dubbed “The Two-Headed Nightingale” or “The Carolina Twins,” they were invited to Buckingham Palace to perform for Queen Victoria and enjoyed great financial success in the U.S. Upon Millie’s failing health, they retired to North Carolina, and died within hours of each other in 1912.

Check out more Sideshow Stars and our Limited Edition Circus Collection Prints

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