As the daughter of German circus performers, Katie Sandwina (born Kathi Brumbach in 1884) was raised in a world uniquely encouraging of female athleticism and physicality. At a young age, she routinely defeated her male counterparts in various strength challenges, and by the 1910s, she was arguably America’s first true celebrity strongwoman; known as "Lady Hercules" and "The Great Sandwina." The latter nickname was likely adapted from "Sandow," in reference to the great German bodybuilder Eugen Sandow, whom Katie had supposedly once outperformed in a weightlifting exhibition.
Across a 50-year career under the Big Top, Sandwina’s combination of grace, beauty, and power amazed audiences, opened minds, and helped redefine female strength-and strength in general—in the 20th century.
Explore the map to learn more about the landmarks visited in the film.