Violet and Daisy Hilton were conjoined twins sharing a common blood and nervous system. They were sold by their impecunious mother to a midwife, who greedily took advantage of their misfortune; while they sang, danced, played instruments in circus sideshows, their veritable slave-owner kept all their earnings and forbade them from socializing. Eventually a lawyer helped them escape and even reacquire money they were swindled out of. They went on to do movies (including 1932’s Freaks).
W. Eugene Smith's Landmark Photo Essay, 'Nurse Midwife'
Maude Callen on duty. In December 1951, LIFE published one of the most extraordinary photo essays ever to appear in the magazine. In W. Eugene Smith’s pictures, the story of a tireless South Carolina nurse and midwife named Maude Callen working in the rural South in the 1950s. She served as “doctor, dietician, psychologist, bail-goer and friend” to thousands of poor (most of them desperately poor) patients — only two percent of whom were white.
General Tom Thumb (1838-1883) was a dwarf who achieved great fame under circus pioneer P.T. Barnum. Above is a photo taken Feb 10, 1863 of his marriage to Lavinia Warren at Grace Episcopal Church. The best man at the wedding was George Washington Morrison “Commodore” Nutt, another dwarf performer in Barnum’s employ. Following the wedding, the couple was received by President Lincoln at the White House.
On a frozen Moscow morning in January 1950, Siamese twins, Masha and Dasha Krivoshlyopova were born. The delivery was by caesarian section. On awakening from the anesthetic, the mother was told her babies had died shortly after birth. This was a lie by the Soviet medical authorities. Instead, they took the girls away to a medical institute in the Moscow region and used them for experimentation and exhibit.
Laura Bullion was a female outlaw of the Old West. Most sources indicate Bullion was born of German and Native American heritage. Laura Bullion was a member of Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch gang; her cohorts were fellow outlaws, including the Sundance Kid, "Black Jack" Ketchum, and Kid Curry.