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World's Fairs collection


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 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. Through the latter half of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth, these events would serve as popular tourist destinations, sources of national pride, spectacles of imperial conquest, and sites of innovation in industry and architecture.

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).

This collection comprises a limited number of newspapers, prints, and newspaper clippings, as well as one photograph reproduction and one original painting related to world's fairs held in London (1851and 1862), Dublin (1853), New York (1853), Paris (1855), Amsterdam (1861), Vienna (1873), Philadelphia (1876), and Chicago (1893). Box 1 Folder 1 contains two copies each of The Illustrated London News and Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, with several additional clippings from The Illustrated London News, two unidentified color prints (one mounted), and one clipping from the Historical Register of the Centennial Exposition. Box 1 Folder 2 contains a brochure detailing the general regulations for exhibitors at the Philadelphia Centennial International Exhibition of 1876, as well as a list of states represented at the exhibition and their commissioners. Box 1 Folder 3 contains a reproduction of a photograph of the completed New York Crystal Palace. Box 1 Folder 4 contains two facsimiles of paintings related to the Chicago World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 with accompanying broadsides featuring details about each painting. The prints included reproduce: Administration Building and Macmonnies Fountain by Hugh Ditzler,Figures from "Modern Woman" by Mary Cassatt, andThe Court of Honor, Illuminated by André Castaigne, all of which are copyrighted and printed by George Barrie. Also included in this folder is what appears to be the originalAdministration Building and Macmonnies Fountain by Hugh Ditzler.

Gift of Library Company of Philadelphia

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Finding Aid Author
Cory Austin Knudson
Finding Aid Date
26 November 2019
Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research use

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.

Collection Inventory

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London Great Exhibition of Works of Industry of All Nations (1850), Illustrated London News, No. 457, Vol. XVII, 1850 November 30.
Box 1 Folder 1
Dublin Great Industrial Exhibition (1853), page from Illustrated London News, 1853 June 4.
Box 1 Folder 1
New York Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations (1853), color representations, 1853.
Box 1 Folder 1
New York Crystal Palace (1853): photographic reproduction, undated.
Box 1 Folder 3
Paris Exposition Universelle (1855), page from Illustrated London News, 1855 September 29.
Box 1 Folder 1
Amsterdam Fisheries Exposition (1861), clipping from Illustrated London News, 1861 May 4.
Box 1 Folder 1
London International Exhibition (1862), clippings from page from Illustrated London News about plans, 1861 March-May.
Box 1 Folder 1
Vienna Exhibition (1873), clippings, 1873.
Box 1 Folder 1
Bunker Hill Centennial (1875): two Supplement to Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, Volume X:, No. 1,030, 1875 June 26.
Box 1 Folder 1
Philadelphia Centennial International Exhibition of 1876: regulations brochure, 1876.
Box 1 Folder 2
Chicago World's Columbian Exposition of 1893: facsimiles of scenes from the Exposition, with accompanying explanatory broadsides, and one original painting by Hugh Ditzler , 1893-1895.
Box 1 Folder 4

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