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Centennial Exposition scrapbook


Held at: University of Delaware Library Special Collections [Contact Us]181 South College Avenue, Newark, DE 19717-5267

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Delaware Library Special Collections. 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

The Centennial International Exhibition was the first World's Fair held in the United States. Commemorating the centennial of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, hosted the Centennial Exhibition from May 10 to October 10, 1876. Although its formal name was the International Exhibition of Arts, Manufactures, and Products of the Soil and Mine, the official theme of the exposition was the United States centennial celebration. Boasting 250 separate pavilions, the Centennial Exposition attracted approximately nine million visitors and showcased the United States' scientific and technological innovations, achievements in art and culture, and advancements in trade and industry accomplished during its short history.

Jackson, Anna.Expo: International Expositions, 1851-2010. London: V&A Publishing, 2008.

This scrapbook of advertisements, trade cards, and collectible ephemera from the 1876 Centennial Exposition was created by Richard W. Davids. Very little is known about Davids, though one advertisement for an R.W. Davids, a Philadelphia printer, does appear in the scrapbook; thus, a conclusion could be made there was some relation.

The volume features advertisements and collectible ephemera collected by Davids during one or more visits to the Centennial Exposition. The pieces advertise a variety of products, including household appliances and furniture, agricultural tools and machinery, clothing and accessories, and food and beverages. Stylistically, many of the advertisements feature tableaus of domestic and vocational activities and international and domestic political relations and represent examples of rich nineteenth-century color lithography. One highlight of the advertisements is the depiction of African-Americans and nineteenth-century race relations. Since the exposition was held in Philadelphia, many local Philadelphia businesses such as Wanamaker & Brown are represented. The majority of the advertisements are for products and businesses based in the United States; however, several international products and businesses are also included.

Although the bulk of the scrapbook consists of advertisements, other pieces of ephemera are included, such as souvenirs from the exhibition buildings and a menu from a café located on the fairgrounds.

Further materials related to world fairs and expositions are cataloged with imprints in Special Collections and can be found by searching DELCAT.

  1. Item 0015: Shelved in SPEC MSS 0093 FOLIO

Purchase, 1988.

Processed and encoded by Maureen Cech, January 2011.

University of Delaware Library Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
Finding Aid Date
2011 January 4
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections, University of Delaware Library,

Collection Inventory

Centennial Exposition scrapbook, 1876.
Item 0015

Print, Suggest