Michael Zinman collection of World's Fairs and Expositions material
Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. 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
While national expositions had taken place in France since the end of the eighteenth century, the modern institution of what would come to be known primarily in the United States as the "world's fair" and, in most other regions, the "world exposition" properly began with the 1851 London Great Exhibition of the Works and Industry of All Nations. The Great Exhibition, as it would come to be known, took place in the famous Crystal Palace in Hyde Park and prominently featured the industrial achievements of the United Kingdom specifically and the western world generally. From then, world's fairs, expositions, and other internationally-oriented festivals became a veritable craze that lasted well into the twentieth century and continue to this day. In the nineteenth century, world's fairs/expositions generally followed the rubric established at London's Great Exhibition in 1851 whereby both national committees and private companies sought to showcase new technologies and industrial progress in general. Many world's fairs/expositions also centered around specifically nationalistic and at times generally western-imperial themes, such as the famous 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, the 1899 First Greater America Colonial Exposition in Omaha, the 1922 Exposition nationale coloniale in Marseille, and the 1925 Empire Exposition in Johannesburg.
Beginning with the 1939-1940 New York World's Fair in New York City, the theme of which was "Dawn of a New Day," the institution of the world's fair/exposition took on a future-oriented perspective that focused on intercultural exchange in addition to industrial and national advancement. As consumerism took hold, these events also placed a premium on showcasing new products and the supposed capacity for corporations to improve the lives of people around the world. Of course, historian Robert W. Rydell points out in World of Fairs: The Century-of-Progress Expositions (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993) that this shift did not necessarily stem from a decisive move away from the "imperial dreams" of exposition organizers but rather reflected a need to marry "science and technology to the modern corporation as the blueprint for building a better tomorrow" (7). From the 1990s to today, the primary focus of world's fairs/expositions shifted again as these events began to center more on displays of national image and cultural achievement. World Expos, as they are now typically called, continue to be held every few years, have only grown in size and expense, and tend to center on themes that foreground challenges faced by humanity as a whole.
This collection was compiled and donated by Michael Zinman, and the bulk of its materials span from the years 1873 to 1992. For an extensive, critical study of world's fairs and expositions in general, see Paul Greenhaulgh, Fair World: A History of World's Fairs and Expositions from London to Shanghai, 1851-2010 (Winterbourne, UK: Papadakis, 2011). For studies of American world's fairs, see Robert W. Rydell, All the World's a Fair: Visions of Empire at American International Expositions, 1876-1916 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987) and Rydell, World of Fairs: The Century-of-Progress Expositions (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993).
This collection comprises written materials, memorabilia, and, to a more limited extent, other materials such as photographs and musical recordings from or related to world's fairs and expositions that took place between 1851 and 1992. Most expositions recognized by the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) are represented, as well as many that are not officially recognized by the BIE. The collection includes appreciable amounts of material related to some of the most historically significant world's fairs, such as the 1893 Chicago World's Columbian Exposition, the 1900 Paris Exposition universelle, the 1933-1934 Chicago Century of Progress, the 1939-1940 New York World's Fair, the 1939-40 San Francisco Golden Gate International Exposition, the 1958 Brussels Wereldtentoonstelling/Exposition universelle et internationale, and the 1962 Seattle Century 21 Exposition. With regard to each exposition featured in the collection, the majority of materials included tend to be promotional and/or informational handbills, brochures, and booklets either relating to the exposition in general or to specific exhibits, companies, or nations represented at the exposition. Some non-world's fair events are also represented to a limited extent, such as the 1888 Cincinnati Flower Festival, the 1925 Scottish Motor Exhibition, and the 1957 Jamestown Festival. While materials from events that took place around the world are included in the collection, it primarily centers on expositions that occurred in the United States.
This collection is arranged chronlogically.
A significant amount of information relating to world's fairs and expositions, including digitized official records, monographs, publicity, artwork, and artifacts, as well as archival information can be found at http://www.worldsfairs.amdigital.co.uk
Gift of Michael Zinman, 2008
- Expo (International Exhibitions Bureau) (1974 : Spokane, Wash.)
- World's Fair (1992 : Chicago, Ill.)
- Century of Progress International Exposition (1933-1934 : Chicago, Ill.)
- Century 21 Exhibition (1962 : Seattle, Wash.)
- Panama-California Exposition (1915 : San Diego, Calif.)
- New York World's Fair (1939-1940 : New York, N.Y.)
- Exposition nationale coloniale de Marseille (1922)
- Panama-Pacific International Exposition (1915 : San Francisco, Calif.)
- World's Columbian Exposition (1893 : Chicago, Ill.)
- Sesqui-Centennial International Exposition (1926 : Philadelphia, Pa.)
- Hudson-Fulton Celebration (1909 : New York, N.Y.)
- Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition (1898 : Omaha, Neb.)
- Exposition universelle (1900 : Paris, France)
- Pan-American Exposition (1901 : Buffalo, N.Y.)
- Louisiana Purchase Exposition (1904 : Saint Louis, Mo.)
- Jamestown Ter-centennial Exposition (1907)
- Exposition internationale 1937 Paris, France
- California Pacific International Exposition (1935-1936 : San Diego, Calif.)
- HemisFair (1968 : San Antonio, Tex.)
- New York World's Fair (1964-1965 : New York, N.Y.)
- Expo (International Exhibitions Bureau) (1958 : Brussels, Belgium)
- Golden Gate International Exposition (1939-1940 : San Francisco, Calif.)
- University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
- Finding Aid Author
- Cory Austin Knudson
- Finding Aid Date
- 2019 November 25
- Access Restrictions
This collection is open for research use; however, original audiovisual material (located in box 5, folders 3 and 27) is restricted from listening use. Because these items are highly visual, access to viewing them is NOT restricted.
Access to Machine-Readable Materials
Access to original audio/visual materials and computer files is restricted. The Kislak Center will provide access to the information on these materials from duplicate master files. If the original does not already have a copy, it will be sent to an outside vendor for copying. Patrons are financially responsible for the cost. The turnaround time from request to delivery of digital items is about two weeks for up to five items and three to seven weeks for more than five items. Please contact Reprographic Services (email@example.com) for cost estimates and ordering.
Once digital items are received, researchers will have access to the files on a dedicated computer in the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center. Researchers should be aware of specifics of copyright law and act accordingly.
- Use Restrictions
Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.