Ella Harper

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Ella Harper

Ella Harper (January 5, 1870 – December 19, 1921),[1] known professionally as The Camel Girl,[2] was born with a very rare orthopedic condition that caused her knees to bend backwards, called congenital genu recurvatum. Her preference to walk on all fours resulted in her nickname "Camel Girl". In 1886 she was featured as the star in W. H. Harris's Nickel Plate Circus, appearing in newspapers wherever the circus visited. The back of her pitch card reads:

I am called the camel girl because my knees turn backward. I can walk best on my hands and feet as you see me in the picture. I have traveled considerably in the show business for the past four years and now, this is 1886 and I intend to quit the show business and go to school and fit myself for another occupation.[3][4]

Harper received a $200 per week salary that likely opened new doors for her.[2]

She is buried in Nashville, Tennessee's Spring Hill Cemetery.


  1. ^ "Finding Ella (my search for The Camel Girl)". 18 April 2015. Retrieved 13 May 2015.
  2. ^ a b Pednaud, J. Tithonu (8 May 2006). "The Human Marvels". thehumanmarvels.com. Retrieved 2010-04-24.
  3. ^ Anderson, Elizabeth J. "Ella Harper - The Camel Girl". phreeque.com. Archived from the original on 2012-06-14. Retrieved 2010-04-24.
  4. ^ Harper, Ella (1886-11-19). "Ella Harper's 1886 Nickel Plate Circus Pitch Card". United States. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)

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