Main content

Women's Committee of the Philadelphia Sesqui-Centennial International Exposition of 1926 records


Held at: Strawberry Mansion [Contact Us]2450 Strawberry Mansion Drive, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19132, (215)228-8364

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Strawberry Mansion. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

To celebrate the 150-year anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Philadelphia was chosen as the site of a grand world's fair in 1926. Several years into the planning, the Sesqui-Centennial Exhibition Association was suffering bad publicity due to budget problems and accusations of mishandling funds. A Women's Committee, comprised of some of the most influential women in Philadelphia at the time, was formed and met for the first time in October of 1925. The goal of this committee was to change the public perception of the Exposition, as well as create exhibitions that would attract visitors. The largest and most popular of the exhibits they created was a replica of "High Street" (present-day Market Street, Philadelphia) as it appeared in 1776. The High Street exhibit was comprised of replica homes and businesses, and was populated with docents in period dress. Though the Exposition itself was deemed a failure, the exhibits created by the Women's Committee--especially the High Street--were among its few successes.


Freedman, Ellen. "The Women's Committee and Their High Street Exhibit at the Philadelphia Sesquicentennial Exposition of 1926." MS thesis, University of Pennsylvania, 1988.

This collection is comprised of the complete records of the Women's Committee of the Philadelphia Sesquicentennial Exhibition. The collection contains the administrative and financial records of the committee, as well as scrapbooks and ephemera. The administrative records include board minutes, reports, and correspondence, including correspondence of the Women's Foreign Committee. The financial records include account ledgers with member dues, check stubs, contacts list invoices and receipts, and bank statements. There are ten scrapbooks in the collection, which feature newspaper clippings, correspondence, reports, and Committee records dating from 1921 to 1927. Ephemera and publications, including a photograph album of the Sesquicentennial exhibition, pins, medals, brochures, and pamphlets, round out the collection.

A highlight of the collection are photographs, blueprints and plans relating to the High Street exhibit. In addition to framed certificates and photographs of High Street houses, there are approximately 30 blueprints and oversize rolled items. These include survey drawings, blueprints of High Street houses, landscape architectural drawings, grading plans, and posters.

Another collection highlight is a small amount of letters received by Howard B. French from May 1923-June 1924. French served as the Chairman of the Building and Grounds Committee for the Sesquicentennial Exhibition Association up until his death in 1924.

Many members of the Women's Committee, including Mrs. J. Willis Martin (President), were heavily involved with the Committee of 1926 and probably brought the Women's Committee records to Strawberry Mansion.

Strawberry Mansion
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Celia Caust-Ellenbogen and Michael Gubicza through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories
This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Access Restrictions

Contact Strawberry Mansion for information about accessing this collection.

Collection Inventory

Print, Suggest