Poster advertising Joice Heth's apearance at Barnum's Hotel, Bridgeport.  Large titles read "The Greatest Natural and National Curiosity in the World."  Heth is depicted as a brown, shriveled woman in a bonnet with long, bony limbs and a prune-like face.
Somers Historical Society

"JOICE HETH is unquestionably the most astonishing and interesting curiosity in the World! She was the slave of Augustine Washington, (the father of Gen. Washington,) and was the first person who put clothes on the unconscious infant, who, in after days, led our heroic fathers on to glory, to victory, and freedom. To use her own language when speaking of the illustrious Father of his Country, 'she raised him.' JOICE HETH was born in the year 1674, and has, consequently, now arrived at the astonishing AGE OF 161 YEARS."

( December 1835)


In late 1835 and the first weeks of 1836, Americans in cities and towns across the northeast might have seen this poster advertising the exhibit of Joice Heth, an elderly African-American woman. The poster's text provided one enticement to the curious by highlighting Heth's connection to the revered George Washington. The poster's crude woodcut image, depicting a woman with a wizened face and talon-like nails, tempted onlookers to see for themselves the curiosity of her extreme age. Unlike Barnum's later human exhibits, who were photographed fairly often, this is one of only two images of Heth that remain.