Books of the Fairs
About this Collection
Foreword: The Books of the Fairs. Materials about Worlds Fairs, 1834-1916, in the Smithsonian Institution Libraries
The Smithsonian Institution Libraries (SIL) consists of sixteen branches located in most of the museums and research bureaus of the Institution. The history of its development mirrors that of the Institution, which has continued to grow and subdivide until the Smithsonians distinctive, red-brick castle has become the deceptively uncomplicated symbol of an intricate web of cultural and scientific facilities. The Libraries collections are specialized, with singular depth in a number of narrowly defined fields. Much of the richness and variety of SILs collections is the result of generations of dedicated Smithsonian researchers and librarians who, as they traveled, conscientiously collected books from all over the world. Certainly this present collection of exposition literature grew from Smithsonian staff involvement in the development of nineteenth-century worlds fairs. The upcoming centennial celebration of the landmark 1893 Worlds Columbian Exposition makes this publication especially timely.
As time and resources permit, SIL publishes bibliographic guides to its discrete collections in order to alert a wider audience of researchers, bibliophiles, visitors, and the general public to opportunities for appreciation, study, and investigation. The Books of the Fairs is Research Guide number 6. Previous SIL research guides have focused on rare scientific books and manuscripts, aviation, astronomy, and African art. We are grateful to the Institutions Atherton Seidell Fund and, through the American Library Association, to the National Endowment for the Humanities for support of production costs of this volume. We extend our thanks to Research Publications, Inc., (now Primary Source Microfilm, an imprint of the Gale Group) for producing the microfilm collection, for which this book also serves as a guide.
Barbara J. Smith
Smithsonian Institution Libraries
The title The Books of the Fairs is a play on the words of the title of Hubert Howe Bancrofts official history of the Chicago Worlds Columbian Exposition, The Book of the Fair (Chicago, 1895). The desirability of a guide to the Smithsonian Institution Libraries (SIL) collection of exposition publications grew from what started as a preservation need. This volume is a guide both to the portion of the SIL collection that was produced between 1834 and 1916 and to a microfilm collection containing most--not all--of the SIL materials for that period. SILs exposition collection is continuing to grow, not only for the period covered in this book but especially for the period from 1916 to the modern day.
In 1986, SIL staff completed a year-long preservation planning program, during which a survey was conducted of the condition of several of the largest collections. The results were consistent with those of similar studies undertaken by a number of major research libraries in the eastern United States. The survey team found that more than 30 percent of the volumes in the sample were severely deteriorated, with paper so dry and brittle that a corner of a page would crack off if it were folded over. The highest number of these brittle books--and the most serious cases--clustered in the publication period 1870 to 1929. The causes of this phenomenon are now well known. Responding to the increasing demand for cheaper papers, mid-nineteenth-century paper manufacturers began to substitute wood pulp for rags as the basic component of paper, a process that required bleaches and acidic additives to help the paper hold ink. Over time, and exacerbated by air pollutants and the constant changing of heat and humidity in many library storage areas, the paper in books and pamphlets on the shelves slowly turns brown, dries out, crumbles into shards, and eventually turns into dust.
It did not require the survey to determine the severely deteriorated condition of the SIL collection of publications relating to international, regional, and local expositions, the majority of which were produced in the period of 1851 to 1916. Publishers of these materials often used the cheapest kinds of paper, not much better than newsprint, for the myriad of government reports, catalogs, visitors guides, pamphlets, photograph albums, scrapbooks, and other documents, many of which were considered ephemeral and designed to be distributed to the millions of fair-goers, then thrown away. That this collection had been valuable to the Smithsonian research staff, who had mined it constantly over the years, was well known. And now it was equally evident that without a serious preservation effort, much of the collection would soon be lost.
The Books of the Fairs had its genesis, therefore, as a preservation project. But as the review of the collection proceeded, another equally important objective emerged: to make both scholars and other repositories housing exposition collections aware of the value of these resources, so that the materials might be more generally exploited and preserved. SIL asked Robert W. Rydell, a professor of history at Montana State University-Bozeman and a historian with a growing reputation as a worlds fair expert, to evaluate the SIL collection and its worthiness as a target for scarce preservation resources. His strong confirmation of this opinion is contained in the introduction to this volume. As is usually the case with preservation projects, the need for improved access to the collection also quickly surfaced, for the collection was largely uncataloged.
The Libraries negotiated a contract with Research Publications, Inc., (RP) of Woodbridge, Connecticut, a commercial publisher, to microfilm the collection, or at least all of the items that could be filmed successfully. The filming was completed in late 1990, and the 174-reel collection, The Books of the Fairs, is currently available either for sale from the publisher or through interlibrary loan from institutions that own the microfilm collection.
Because the collection was largely uncataloged and funds were not available to undertake such a project in the short term, SIL decided to prepare a checklist of the most fragile parts of the collection--items published before World War I--which could serve two purposes: as a guide to the SIL collection in its entirety and as a guide to the portion that would be microfilmed. The bewildering variety of publications as well as the few manuscripts in the collection begged for annotation to help the discriminating researcher evaluate the relative usefulness of each. From there it was a short step to decide to include other features we hope add value: an introduction to provide an informational and historiographical context for the subject; indexes to increase access possibilities; a list of fairs covered by the collection; and illustrations to highlight the visual qualities and values of exposition books.
As mentioned earlier, SIL was fortunate in persuading Robert W. Rydell to help evaluate the collection and prepare the introductory essay to the guide. Rydell, who carried out much of the research for his landmark work All the Worlds a Fair: Visions of Empire at Americas International Expositions, 1876-1916 (Chicago, 1984) at the Smithsonian, was familiar with several collections of archival materials and artifacts, as well as publications, in the Institution. He has also published numerous articles on expositions and is currently conducting research for a book on American worlds fairs of the 1930s. Students and researchers new to the topic of worlds fairs will find in Rydells introduction a multiplicity of vantage points from which to begin their investigations, with suitable warning to exercise sound judgment in evaluating the contents of exposition literature, much of which is promotional in nature. Rydell uses the international breadth of the SIL collections as a vehicle to expand his consideration of the historiography of the field to include much Western European material that is not well known on this side of the Atlantic. (The Smithsonian Libraries does not own every item listed in Rydells historiography.)
Checklist: The Books of the Fairs
As Rydell points out, "Like most worlds fair collections, the Smithsonian Institution Libraries collection defies easy categorization." While Rydell calls it one of the largest collections of its kind, it is by no means comprehensive. The nearly 1,700 titles contained in the checklist do not include a definitive set of publications emanating from a single fair nor do they cover every exposition of note held between 1834 and 1916, the inclusive dates. Nor is the list comprehensive in another sense. The majority of the exposition collection resides in the SIL branch located in the National Museum of American History. Because the SIL collections are geographically dispersed among Smithsonian museums and research bureaus, however, the literature relating to expositions is similarly dispersed. As the checklist was being compiled, an attempt was made to locate all exposition-related material in the scattered SIL collections. Subsequently, when the Institution received a large bequest of worlds fair publications and memorabilia from the estate of Larry Zim, relevant publications from the period were also included in the checklist. But as the filming proceeded, the list had to be closed, even though new items continued to surface almost daily. As this is written, SIL is still acquiring exposition publications through purchase and gift. Perhaps at some point there will be a need for a supplementary volume.
SIL has a strong representative collection that illustrates the breadth and impact of the early international exposition movement, as well as the variety of publications associated with it, with considerable depth for certain fairs. The checklist describes the wide range of materials, from glossy and expensive limited-edition folios of artwork displayed at fairs, to manuscript letters, penny guides, exhibit brochures, congress proceedings, and issues of journals devoted to coverage of a fair. SIL regards the collection as primary source material for historical insight in many disciplines and for study of the expositions themselves. Secondary materials, such as historical studies of fairs, facsimiles, and reprints, have not generally been included in the checklist.
Not everything in the collection was microfilmed. Some documents were in too poor condition to withstand the process of packing, unpacking, and filming. Other items would not have filmed well because of incompleteness or physical problems like the presence of color illustrations, half-tone photographs, or paper turned so brown that there was little contrast between the paper and the print. Some manuscripts and other rare items were not filmed because security problems prohibited their removal to the filming site. Furthermore, many titles were added to the checklist after the filming had been completed for that particular time period. Thus, the checklist is a guide to more than the microfilm collection and will alert researchers to the availability of much unfilmed material that can be consulted at the Smithsonian.
The checklist is first organized chronologically by year, then alphabetically by city where the exposition took place, then by name of fair. The official name of the fair is used, insofar as that can be determined. Expositions are often better known by their popular, rather than their official, names. For example, many people know of the 1851 Crystal Palace Exhibition in London, but few would recognize it by its official name, the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations. There is no single authoritative list of official names of expositions, nor are the publications themselves reliable guides because names often changed as fairs were planned and popular names were promoted by the press. The list of fairs that appears in the appendix contains only those that appear in the checklist. The names of fairs were compared with several other published lists, such as John E. Findling and Kimberly D. Pelles Historical Dictionary of Worlds Fairs and Expositions, 1851-1988 (Westport, Conn., 1990). Ronald J. Mahoney, head of Special Collections for the Henry Madden Library at California State University-Fresno, also graciously reviewed our list against his extensive and valuable card index.
Within each fair listing, all entries are arranged alphabetically by title. If an item, such as a letter, did not have a title, one was constructed in order to place the item in this listing. Square brackets are used to distinguish titles we supplied. A few errors in titles and alphabetization of entries inevitably surfaced after the filming was completed. In each case, we preserved the reel number sequence, even if entries were out of place alphabetically. SIL regrets these errors. Capitalization follows general cataloging rules contained in the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, second edition, 1988 revision (Chicago, 1988). The entries otherwise follow a bibliographic style developed specifically for this publication, with the goal of internal consistency.
The bibliographic data attempt to highlight important components of the book, such as illustrations, tables, indexes, maps, plans, photographs, and other special features. The presence of advertisements is also noted because they are important primary sources for the history of technology and of material culture. The annotations are descriptive, rather than evaluative, to help the reader distinguish, for example, between an exhibition catalog that merely lists items displayed and one that contains additional information. The checklist annotations include the names of authors, compilers, contributors, and other important persons associated with the publications, and some describe the subject content as well. All individuals identified in the annotations are listed in the index.
The illustrations in this guide, selected for both decoration and content, have been taken from the publications themselves. They present a microcosm of the history of the development of book illustration, the graphic arts, and photography from the last half of the nineteenth century. Whether satirical cartoons or lavishly colored representations of oriental vases, illustrations provide humor and richness to the social and cultural record of expositions.
If an item was included in the microform collection of The Books of the Fairs, the reel number and location on the reel appear following the annotation. In general, publications appear on the microfilm in the same sequence as they do in the checklist. Occasionally, however, items were filmed out of order because of the way they are bound; cross references guide the reader to the correct location on the microfilm.
By borrowing from other repositories, Research Publications and SIL together attempted to fill in missing volumes or sections of items incomplete in the SIL collection. We apologize for any inconvenience caused by the gaps that remain.
The talents of many people combined to ensure the highest possible quality and utility for the microfilm collection and this collection guide. Duane Bogenschneider, then of Research Publications Inc., offered the services of his company for the project, and he was ably succeeded by Meg Bellinger, who made sure all the pieces came together. Thanks to RP project manager Jonathan M. Rosenwasser, Research Publications not only produced microfilm of extremely high quality, but it also corrected the bibliographic data for each item as part of the process and cataloged the film collection. Records for the collection will eventually appear in both RLIN (Research Libraries Information Network) and OCLC, major national bibliographic utilities used by many libraries.
On the SIL side, the project was initiated by Nancy E. Gwinn, assistant director, Collections Management, who worked with a committee composed of Margaret S. Child, then assistant director, Research Services; Rhoda S. Ratner, branch librarian, National Museum of American History; and Nancy L. Matthews, publications officer. A special thanks goes to Robert Maloy, then SIL director, who supported the vision and provided initial funds for the project, and to Barbara J. Smith and Vija L. Karklins, who cheered us on. Vanessa Piala, then SILs head of Preservation Services, managed the filming project for SIL, which included training staff to prepare and pack materials and to oversee quality control standards for the microfilm. Her organizational skills and technical knowledge are largely responsible for the smooth, timely execution of the microfilming phase. She was assisted by Glenn Gardner, Shannon Barker, and Peyton Whitacre. Rhoda S. Ratner, James Roan, and Bridget Burke helped the project staff locate materials, search relevant databases, borrow and recall volumes, and ensure continued access to the collection by both Smithsonian research staff and project personnel. Their cooperation is greatly appreciated.
The checklist and list of fairs were originally drafted by Michael W. Tkacz, with editorial guidance and additional material supplied by Nancy E. Gwinn. Margaret R. DAmbrosio, SIL cataloger, reviewed foreign-language titles for accuracy and provided sage bibliographic advice. Ellen B. Wells "read" the checklist and saved us from a number of errors. Victoria Avera, head, SILs Automated Bibliographic Control Department, worked closely with Sheila Makris, RPs Cataloging Project manager, to ensure appropriate cataloging of titles in the microfilm collection. Jon Zachman, cataloger of the artifacts in the Larry Zim collection for the National Museum of American History, consulted on the list of fairs. Hugh Pettis, an able and dedicated Smithsonian volunteer, served as picture researcher and selected the majority of the illustrations, many more than could be accommodated in this publication. Renata Rutledge, who has volunteered for several SIL projects, helped organize the materials sent for microfilming and helped compile the list of illustrations. Leslie Overstreet and Philip D. Edwards assisted with photography of book illustrations, which was carried out by the staff of the Smithsonians Office of Print and Photographic Services under the capable direction of Photographic Production coordinator Mary Ellen McCaffrey, to whom much is owed for her good humor, patience, and quick turnaround of materials. Nancy E. Gwinn researched and wrote the captions for the illustrations and takes full responsibility for any errors. Thanks also goes to Evelyn Haller, who spent many hours keyboarding corrections, entering codes, and printing numerous versions of the manuscript, and to Helen Nordberg, Robert J. Skarr, Mary Kay Davies, Stephen Van Dyk, and other members of the SIL staff who helped in ways large and small. Nancy L. Matthews and Nancy E. Gwinn shared editorial oversight of the publication and helped select illustrations. Nancy Matthews further guided the manuscript through contract and production with the American Library Association (ALA). All parts of the guide benefited from her clear thinking and advice.
The guide has received support in the form of subventions from two sources. The Atherton Seidell Endowment Fund in the Smithsonian Institution provided an award to support publishing costs. The National Endowment for the Humanities, through its Publication Subvention Program, provided funds to ALA to support the production costs of additional illustrations, including color.
We extend our appreciation to Edgar S. McLarin, associate executive director, ALA Publishing, who agreed that this collection guide deserved special care, to David M. Epstein, ALA Books general manager, who gave this publication his personal attention, and to Helen Cline and Dianne Rooney, whose editing and production skills ensured that the physical quality of the book would be exemplary.
A final word of thanks is due Robert W. Rydell, who, as previously noted, provided the introductory essay. When he completed the original draft in 1986, neither he nor SIL realized it would be nearly six years before it appeared in print. He has continued to provide solid advice and assistance in many aspects of the project, including plans for an SIL exhibition and a symposium on the topic of worlds fairs.
The Smithsonian Institution Libraries offers this collection guide in the hope that it will encourage research projects and investigations that take advantage of the richness and variety of exposition literature. Even more, SIL wishes to encourage other libraries and archives to take active steps to identify and preserve exposition materials. Because of their inherent acidic nature, all historical collections of these materials are undoubtedly in the same seriously deteriorated condition as the SIL collection and soon will become brittle and beyond help. Increased attention to preservation will ensure that a vital part of the worlds cultural history remains open to investigation by scholars and by all worlds fair aficionados.
Nancy E. Gwinn
Assistant Director, Collections Management
Smithsonian Institution Libraries
The Literature of International Expositions
By Robert W. Rydell
In the aftermath of the success of Londons 1851 Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations, better known as the Crystal Palace Exhibition, international exhibitions became a fact of life in the modernizing world. Their numbers mushroomed in Europe and the United States and spread into the developing world as well. By World War II, over one hundred international fairs had been organized and had recorded an aggregate attendance of several hundred million. Nearly twenty-seven million Americans attended the 1893 Chicago Worlds Columbian Exposition; forty-eight million visitors attended the 1900 Paris Universal Exposition.1 With fair-going in America and Europe becoming a typical experience in the years before motion pictures, radio, and television, it is little wonder that some contemporaries believed that the exposition rivaled the Church as a powerful cultural authority. According to one contemporary cultural critic, American historian Henry Adams, there existed at the centurys turn a "religion of worlds fairs."2
What Adams meant becomes clearer when the etymology of the word "fair" is examined. The Latin word "feria" means holy day; in German, the word "Messe" signifies both fair and mass.3 For Adams, the relationship between religion and fairs gained new meaning as he surveyed the nineteenth century. In the context of the scientific and technological revolutions sweeping Europe and the United States during the late nineteenth century, fairs were becoming sites for pilgrimage and sources of inspiration, guidance, wonderment, and despair. That, at least, was the message Adams conveyed when he laced his famous essay "The Dynamo and the Virgin" with observations about the meaning of technological change at the 1900 Universal Exposition.4
The importance of international fairs has long been appreciated, but not very well understood. Only a few exhibitions have received adequate scholarly attention, but that situation is changing. Because of exhibitions impact on almost every facet of life--on architecture; fine and decorative arts; cultural representations; industrial design; urban planning; consumer tastes; food processing; mining technology; regional, national, and international politics; womens rights; entertainment; leisure; philosophy; science; and library classification--and on peoples perceptions of the world in general, the study of international exhibitions is attracting a broad range of scholars. It is precisely this upsurge of interest in fairs that suggests the need for the present historiographical and bibliographical undertaking.
The essay that follows is divided into three parts. Part one provides a short history of international fairs and examines the significance of international exhibitions in the context of industrialization, national political consolidation, and imperialism. Part two is a historiographical essay that surveys a selection of past and present writings about fairs and illuminates the variety of approaches taken by scholars in these studies. Part three describes the categories of exposition literature, using examples from the Smithsonian Institution Libraries (SIL) collection, with a view toward alerting scholars to some of the hazards in using exposition sources and toward urging scholars to take advantage of treasures contained in the collection. What follows is an effort to stimulate scholarly investigation into sources that are only beginning to receive the attention they deserve.
International Expositions in Historical Perspective
The series of international exhibitions that began with Londons 1851 Crystal Palace Exhibition and continued beyond the Second World War defined modernity for several hundred million people. These fairs not only reflected a "modern" outlook on life, they helped shape the perspective. Fairs influenced popular belief systems, buttressing them with scientific, political, and religious authority. Prominent political figures, scientists, and clergy performed ceremonial functions and organized exhibits and conferences for the exhibitions. As powerful cultural influences, fairs moved to the center stage of world history at the end of the nineteenth century. How and why did this happen? How and why did fairs spread from western Europe to the United States and the developing world, becoming, in effect, a worldwide movement? Is there any correlation between the massive economic and political dislocations associated with industrialization and the planning of worlds fairs?
The key to comprehending the origin and diffusion of expositions, as well as their form, content, and function, turns on understanding that international expositions complemented efforts by powerful groups within industrialized and industrializing nations to consolidate their political and economic authority at home, along with their imperial gains overseas. Often termed by their promoters "worlds universities" or "workshops" of the world, international exhibitions were, above all, exercises in consolidating and perpetuating power.5 As such, international expositions, over the course of the last half of the nineteenth century, came to have a decisive influence on the cultures of numerous societies around the globe.
The origin of international exhibitions is usually traced quite precisely to the 1851 Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations, more commonly known as the Crystal Palace Exhibition. But the Crystal Palace Exhibition did not emerge out of thin air. Its promoters, members of the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce, including Prince Albert as patron, drew heavily on and reshaped several earlier exhibition traditions. In the first place, the Crystal Palace was preceded by a centuries-old tradition of fairs that, at least since the Middle Ages, had intersected with religious festivals.6 In the second place, there existed by the mid-nineteenth century a European tradition of national exhibitions devoted to displays of technology.7 Finally, by the 1830s, Great Britain had a well-established exhibition movement centered around local mechanics institutes that attracted crowds numbering between 200,000 and 300,000.8
Like every preceding and subsequent fair, the Crystal Palace was a human construct built by specific individuals for specific reasons at an equally specific moment in time. What prompted the backers of the 1851 exhibition to think in terms of synthesizing and surpassing these earlier exhibition traditions was a series of challenges to established political authority rooted in dislocations brought about by Englands rapid rise to industrial prominence and compounded by democratic revolutions on the continent.9 "We have Chartist riots every night, which result in numbers of broken heads," Albert confided in 1848, the year before the decision was made to hold the Crystal Palace Exhibition. Conceding the possibility that "if they could, by means of their organization, throw themselves in a body upon any one point, they might be successful in a coup de main," Albert remained confident of the "loyalty of the country on the whole."10 Confidence bred of anxiety--the Victorian recipe for success--fired the imaginations of Albert and fellow members of the Royal Society of Arts. They overcame the fear of sceptics and organized an international spectacle that would be seen by the masses--including "millions of British workers," according to Albert--as evidence of Englands progress and power.11 The particular genius of the Crystal Palaces organizers lay not in inventing the idea of an exhibition of industry and the arts--an idea already in place in French national exhibitions and in English exhibitions by mechanics institutes--but in drawing upon these traditions and designing an international exhibition that provided assurances that national political and economic equilibrium had not been lost.
By any calculation, the results of the organizers achievement were impressive.
But yesterday a naked sod,
The dandies sneered from Rotten-row,
And saunterd oer it to and fro.
And see, tis done!
As though twere by a wizards rod,
A blazing arch of lucid glass,
Leaps like a fountain from the grass,
To meet the sun.
A quiet green, but few days since,
With cattle browsing in the shade,
And lo! Long lines of bright arcade
In order raised;
A palace as for fairy prince,
A rare pavilion, such as man
Saw never since mankind began,
And built and glazed.12
So William M. Thackeray wrote of the transformation wrought in Hyde Park by Joseph Paxtons massive iron and glass Crystal Palace. With its nearly 294,000 panes of glass fitted into a cruciform design that covered 18-1/4 acres, the Crystal Palace--officially opened by Queen Victoria--became the legendary symbol of Victorianism.13 Before the exhibition closed after a run of five months, more than six million visitors had seen exhibits drawn from the British Empire and from numerous other nations. British colonial displays testified to the global dimensions and power of the British Empire, while exhibits of Colt arms and the McCormick Reaper convinced British industrialists that industrialization in the United States was a force with which to contend.14
Not all visitors were pleased, however. As historian Thomas Parke Hughes discovered, Feodor Dostoyevsky condemned Paxtons creation as the "epitome of soulless materialism, this apocalyptic monster of iron and glass." Even Thomas Carlyle could scorn the "Wind-dust-ry of All Nations."15 But critics notwithstanding, there was no denying the impact of the fair. It generated a substantial profit, most of which was used to underwrite museum and university development.16 On a more intangible yet equally important plane, the exhibition provided a common cultural touchstone for millions who could join in reminiscing that "[we] were students together at the Great University in 1851."17 Put another way, the exhibition entered into the consciousness of people and became an integral component in remembering the past. The effect was such that even Nikolai Chernyshevskys heroine of What Is to Be Done? (1862) imagined a future that consisted of communists living in crystal palaces.18 By completely suffusing the discourse of the day, the Crystal Palace stood sui generis as the worlds dominant secular cultural force. But perhaps the best measure of its success was the procession of international exhibitions that followed in its wake.19
By 1900, when--in one year--forty-eight million people visited the Universal Exposition in Paris, international exhibitions had been held in virtually every European capital. In London and Paris, exhibitions had been mounted on multiple occasions. What stands out in this fifty years of exhibition making is the versatility of the medium for presenting similar ideas about the nature of progress in new and exciting forms. For instance, within fifteen years of the Crystal Palace, French exhibitions were including separate foreign pavilions designed in distinctive and supposedly representative national architectural forms. By the 1873 Vienna exposition, the single, grand exhibition building had given way to a variety of buildings devoted to different areas of human endeavor. And by the 1889 Paris Exposition, a new synthesis emerged as French fair officials organized a colonial village of nonwhites and located it at the base of that exhibitions towering monument, the Eiffel Tower. No subsequent worlds fair lacked a variation on this ethnological exhibit, and for the better part of the next fifty years, such arrangements of nonwhite colonials often bore the name "ethnological villages."20
Imperial ambition became the driving force behind many European fairs.21 In 1883, the Dutch organized the first international exhibition in Europe devoted primarily to colonialism. The British quickly followed suit in 1886 with their Colonial and Indian Exhibition. This colonial emphasis within the international exhibition movement continued and intensified in the two decades after World War I when the British government organized the British Empire exhibitions at Wembley (1924-25) and Glasgow (1938), the French assembled colonial celebrations of their own in Marseille (1922) and Paris (1931), and the Belgians held one in Antwerp (1930).
While promoters of European fairs never lost sight of furthering the cause of empire, their attention focused on building national followings for political, economic, and cultural policies as well. The web of international exhibitions that stretched across Great Britain and the European continent included international fairs devoted to art and manufacturing (Dublin, 1853); science and industry (Brussels, 1888); industry and labor (Turin, 1911); and modern art (Turin, 1902; Paris, 1925 and 1937). Each of these fairs, characterized by its attention to the problems of modern living, stands as a testament to the energetic efforts by its promoters to influence the way fair-goers saw the world. And in an age when seeing was identified with believing, few doubted the importance of such spectacles.22
At the conclusion of the 1851 Crystal Palace Exhibition, a group of New York businessmen, headed by journalist Horace Greeley, was so inspired by the English achievement that it designed a Crystal Palace Exhibition of its own. It opened in 1853 and quickly proved to be a financial failure despite the efforts of its president, showman P.T. Barnum, to turn the exhibition building into a convention center.23 This disastrous start, in the context of the mounting sectional crisis that would result in civil war, helps explain the absence of American enthusiasm for fairs over the next decade. Within two years of the end of the Civil War, however, serious proposals were made to hold an international fair in Philadelphia to celebrate the centenary of American independence.24
Plans for the 1876 fair took form in the Gilded Age against the backdrop of Reconstruction and the Panic of 1873. The latter event, a major industrial depression, made the need for a national celebration of American progress especially compelling and enabled exhibition sponsors to secure a loan from the United States Congress. Along with financial support came two equally valuable forms of assistance. First, the federal government helped secure foreign participation in the fair by issuing official invitations through diplomatic channels. Second, the act of Congress that provided the loan mandated that the Smithsonian Institution become involved in the exhibition. The technical expertise afforded by the Smithsonian proved invaluable and marked the beginning of forty years of Smithsonian involvement in the international exhibition movement. Another source of support for the centennial celebration came from local fairs, especially the sanitary fairs held during the Civil War and the series of industrial fairs held in Cincinnati. The sanitary fairs had given many Philadelphians hands-on experience with the exhibition medium, while the annual Cincinnati fairs honed the management skills of Alfred Goshorn, who became chief executive officer of the Philadelphia fair.25
In the aftermath of the Centennials success--it attracted a larger attendance than any previous international fair and turned a profit--a network of international fairs spread coast to coast. Though they varied in form, their organizers did their best to preserve the formula for success developed by the Centennials sponsors, namely to obtain federal sponsorship for fairs intended to serve commemorative purposes.
This emphasis on remembering the past and on creating traditions that would be remembered ("inventing tradition" is the apt phrase coined by historian Eric Hobsbawm to describe the phenomenon) characterized the fairs that followed the Philadelphia Centennial.26 Promoters of the 1884-85 New Orleans fair celebrated the anniversary of the introduction of cotton to the South. Organizers of the 1893 Chicago Worlds Columbian Exposition celebrated--a year late--the four-hundredth anniversary of the landfall of Columbus. In Nashville, Tennessee, Charleston, South Carolina, and Jamestown, Virginia, fair promoters turned to anniversaries of statehood or to the colonial origins of their cities for inspiration. Organizers of the 1904 St. Louis fair commemorated the centenary of the Louisiana Purchase, while the 1905 fair in Portland celebrated the one-hundredth anniversary of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Two fairs in California--the 1915 expositions in San Francisco and San Diego--commemorated a recent event: the opening of the Panama Canal. After World War I, the commemorative theme remained a dominant focus for exposition planners. The 1926 Philadelphia Sesquicentennial celebrated American independence again, while the 1933-34 Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago marked the one-hundredth anniversary of that city. Even the futuristically minded designers of the 1939-40 New York Worlds Fair marked a historical event by organizing their fair to commemorate the one hundred-fiftieth anniversary of George Washingtons inauguration as president.
The commemorative nature of Americas international exhibitions tended to distinguish them from European fairs, though the 1889 Paris exposition marked the centennial of the French Revolution and the 1873 Vienna fair commemorated the twenty-fifth anniversary of Emperor Franz Josephs rule.27 Another characteristic of American fairs was that they were chartered as private corporations, whereas most European fairs were organized by national governments. Not surprisingly, directors of American fairs established separate buildings for private companies. Evident on a small scale at the Philadelphia fair, separate buildings devoted to American corporations became the dominant physical characteristic of American fairs that took place between the world wars.28 Another difference centers on architecture. Ironically, in their effort to show that American culture had come of age, fair planners before World War I tended to insist on buildings designed in conservative, beaux-arts forms that drew heavily on European precedent. European fair planners, on the other hand, were more willing to display new building technologies.29 Witness, for example, the iron and glass construction of the Crystal Palace or Alexandre-Gustave Eiffels heroic use of metal construction in the tower that bears his name.
Yet, despite these differences, American and European fairs bore similarities. Like their European counterparts, American fair organizers emphasized national unity to dispel anxiety about industrial depression and social unrest.30 Also, Americas exposition organizers made white supremacy and imperialism an integral part of their exposition design. At the St. Louis fair, for instance, the U.S. government joined forces with St. Louis fair promoters and displayed 1,200 Filipinos on a Philippines reservation and juxtaposed these representations of villages with a reservation of Native Americans.31 As was the case in Europe, exhibit classifications emphasized the reality of "progress" by arranging exhibits into developmental displays of technological, economic, and "racial" advance. And American fairs, following the example of the 1889 Paris exhibition, incorporated entertainment strips--first called the "midway" at the Worlds Columbian Exposition--which frequently contained living ethnological villages endorsed by prominent anthropologists.32 Following the precedent at the 1867 Paris fair, American exposition organizers also sponsored international congresses on religion, science, labor, and numerous other topics of contemporary concern that brought world-renowned authorities to their fairs.33
Similarities between American and European fairs were not fortuitous. American and European governments were extremely interested in keeping abreast of the latest technological developments in other countries. Consequently, delegations of statesmen, businessmen, scientists, and occasionally workers were sent by governments, industries, and trade unions to study international fairs and to report their findings.34 Their published reports served as reservoirs of information for planning upcoming fairs. More important for the similarities between expositions was the rapid emergence in industrialized countries of professional exposition specialists who helped exposition sponsors understand the reasons for the success or failure of preceding fairs. The American-based International Association of Fairs and Expositions, for instance, provided the Economics Department of the University of Chicago with several research scholarships "to establish a literature for the [exposition] profession."35 This trend toward professionalization culminated in 1931 with the creation of the Bureau of International Expositions in Paris to define and coordinate international exhibitions.36
The result of these collective efforts was a body of shared knowledge and expertise about organizing exhibitions that promoted national rivalry, underscored the need to create domestic and overseas markets for the vast quantities of goods that were on display at the fairs, and made the domination of the nonwhite world seem right and natural. "The Exposition," declared one promoter of the 1898 Omaha fair, "has become the instrument of civilization. Being a concomitant to empire, westward it takes its way--the Crystal Palace, the [Philadelphia] Centennial, the [Chicago] Worlds Fair, the [Omaha] Trans-Mississippi Exposition."37 If imperialism signifies an ideology that rationalizes "an evolving set of different relationships between advanced industrial societies and the rest of the world" and a process that entails "the loss of sovereignty--control--over essential issues and decisions by a largely agricultural society to an industrial metropolis," then these fairs were not simply by-products of an imperial age.38 They helped produce the imperialist ethos.
Fairs in the Developing World
International expositions in Europe and America were impressive examples of imperialistic thinking. So were the fairs held in the colonies themselves.
Since 1851, selected groups of colonials had been put on display at European fairs. After the success of Amsterdams 1883 colonial exposition with its three million visitors, the colonial fair became a characteristic exposition form.39 From the standpoint of exhibition planners, the goals of these fairs were twofold. In the first place, colonial exhibits were intended to build support for national imperial policies. In the second place, colonial exhibits were intended to have an uplifting influence on the colonies, especially on the colonials put on display at the fairs.40 The next step followed logically. If expositions could be organized in the colonies, the "civilizing" influence of the fairs would reach a greater number of colonials and build support for imperial policies where such support was needed most--in the colonies themselves.
As early as 1854, the British organized an international fair in Melbourne, Australia. From there, fairs extended to other communities in Australia and New Zealand and to other parts of the British Empire as well. Between 1851 and 1867, the British sponsored four international expositions in Canada. In Australia and New Zealand, the British followed the 1854 Melbourne fair with numerous exhibitions, including large-scale international fairs in Sydney (1879-80), Melbourne (1880-81 and 1888-89), Adelaide (1887), Launceston (1891-92), Hobart (1894-95), Christchurch (1906-7), and Dunedin (1926-27). Intended to promote settlement, investment, and development in Australia and New Zealand, these exhibitions also served as reminders of the imperial power and authority of Great Britain. In addition to sponsoring fairs in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, the British organized a series of fairs in India (Calcutta, 1864; Gujerat, 1870; Lahore, 1881-82) devoted to agriculture, the arts, and manufacturing. These led to the organization, in 1883-84, of an international exhibition in Calcutta that concentrated on the display of products and resources in the British Empire. A similar emphasis characterized the international exhibition in Kingston, Jamaica (1891). The British also extended the medium of the international fair to South Africa to help hasten British hegemony in that region. Beginning with the 1877 South African International Exhibition in Capetown, the British organized a series of international exhibitions to buttress imperial and white rule. The 1877 exhibition was followed by the South Africa and International Exhibition (Kimberley, 1893); the International Peace Exhibition (Johannesburg, 1904), which marked the end of the Boer War; and the British Empire Exhibition (Johannesburg, 1936).41
While the British extended the exhibition medium to their colonies, the French hardly remained idle. In 1866, the French organized a Cochin China Exhibition in Saigon that was followed in 1887 with another fair in Hanoi. In 1902-3, the French held a much larger intercolonial exhibition in Hanoi that drew largely on exhibits developed for the 1900 Universal Exposition in Paris. They went so far as to include exhibition buildings constructed in the beaux-arts style. Over the next three decades, the French continued to plan exhibitions for Indo-China. Then, in 1915, they extended the exhibition chain to North Africa by arranging a Franco-Moroccan exhibition in Casablanca that was followed in 1930 by a fair in Oran to commemorate the centennial of French colonial rule in Algeria.42 These colonial extravaganzas were costly enough that other imperial powers refrained from organizing their own exhibitions, though they occasionally participated in French and British colonial fairs devoted to solving mutual colonial problems in specific regions of the world. For instance, ethnological and commercial exhibits from the Dutch East Indies and U.S.-controlled Philippine Islands were sent to the 1901-2 Hanoi fair to further the study of colonial peoples and to improve trade relations between colonies in the Far East. Though these colonial fairs ultimately failed to preserve European political sovereignty, they certainly merit investigation as cultural concomitants to European and American economic expansion into the developing world.
Colonial fairs were not the only fairs organized on the periphery of the industrialized world. Beginning in 1861 with the Exposiçao Nacional of Rio de Janeiro, industrialists in several developing countries organized international fairs to promote industrialization and modernization by attracting foreign investment capital. The Rio de Janeiro fair, which was strongly influenced by the Crystal Palace Exhibition,43 was followed by similar expositions in Santiago (1875), Guatemala City (1897), and again in Rio de Janeiro (1922-23). Modernization was also the byword at the 1910 Nanking South Seas Exhibition, which Chinas final imperial dynasty organized as a last-ditch effort to retain its authority by promoting nationalism and industrialization. This exhibition, with buildings devoted to fine arts, machinery and transportation, and public health, was strongly influenced by European and American precedents and even included a midway organized by American concessionaires.44
In Japan, industrialists turned to the medium of the international fair to consolidate political gains and to promote the development of domestic and overseas markets. As early as the mid-1870s, industrialists in Kyoto organized exhibitions devoted to Japanese manufacturing. The drive to build an industrial base in Japan not only led to additional fairs in Osaka (1904) and Tokyo (1907) but also propelled the Japanese government to participate in European and American fairs beginning with the 1876 Philadelphia exhibition.45 Although World War I undercut plans to hold a major international exhibition in Tokyo in 1917, the idea persisted even beyond World War II. The international fairs held in Osaka (1970) and Okinawa (1975) fulfilled an exposition wish in Japan that dated from the nineteenth century.46
The international exhibitions that shaped the cultural geography of the modern world were arenas for making ideas about progress visible. For the designers of international fairs, progress was a universal force that active human intervention could direct toward national benefit. Progress meant advances in civilization, more research in science, improved technology, and economic growth. According to scientific and historical wisdom, it involved a strong racial component as well.47 As self-evident as these ideas may have been to exposition organizers, they were anything but obvious to other groups in society. Exhibition enthusiasts could point to any number of developments--industrial violence, for instance--on both sides of the Atlantic as evidence of divergent ideas about the locus of authority for determining the meaning of progress. Hence the urgency in exposition planners efforts to direct the education of the masses about the nature of universal progress.
Fairs, in short, helped to craft the modern world. They were arenas where manufacturers sought to promote products, where states and provinces competed for new residents and new investments, where urban spaces were organized into shimmering utopian cities, and where people from all social classes went to be alternately amused, instructed, and diverted from more pressing concerns. Memorialized in songs, books, buildings, public statuary, city parks, urban designs, and photographs, fairs were intended to frame the world view not only of the hundreds of millions who attended these spectacles, but also of the countless millions who encountered the fairs secondhand. The extent to which they accomplished that goal offers a fruitful subject for future research.
"It seems a little remarkable that an institution at once so popular and so universal as Fairs should not heretofore have found a historian." Cornelius Walford, 188348
There is no easy way to introduce the carousel of literature about international expositions. At first glance, the quantity of literature about fairs seems enormous. There are synoptic histories of fairs, histories of individual fairs, and studies of selected aspects of exhibitions. But, on closer examination, the quantity is deceptive and the quality uneven. For events that attracted several hundred million visitors before World War I alone, it is surprising--a century after Cornelius Walfords lament--how little scholarship has been devoted to international exhibitions. For the most part, studies of fairs are clustered around the world-class exhibitions, but even here there are gaps. There is, for instance, no modern history of the 1904 St. Louis fair. Comparative studies of expositions have been few. Systematic inquiries into colonial expositions can be counted on one hand. Though important work has been published about international exhibitions, much of the literature is tentative, eclectic, and far from complete.
There are, however, signs that this state of affairs is improving as more and more scholars are studying fairs from a variety of perspectives and discovering that the study of expositions can enhance any number of fields of specialization. This section provides an overview of past and present writings on fairs by examining four areas: general bibliographies, general histories of fairs, histories of individual fairs, and topical studies that subordinate fairs to particular problems in economics, architecture, and related scholarly disciplines. It is too early to predict the outcome of recent research into international fairs, but it seems reasonable to expect that as writing about fairs is redirected along more analytical lines a new understanding will emerge of the cultural function of fairs in a comparative context. This new understanding of fairs, however, will come about only through interdisciplinary cooperation between scholars. Nothing less is needed if we are to understand the world that international fairs--themselves the product of multidisciplinary cooperation--did so much to shape.
Bibliographies and Checklists
Every researcher should be aware of the bibliographies and checklists devoted to the subject. For national and industrial fairs that occurred before 1851, the best lists are Kenneth E. Carpenters "European Industrial Exhibitions Before 1851 and Their Publications," Technology and Culture 13 (July 1972): 465-86, and Regine de Plinval-
Salguess earlier Bibliographie analytique des expositions industrielles et commerciales en France depuis lorigine, jusquen 1867 (Paris, 1959). For international fairs, no comprehensive checklist or bibliography exists, though there are several general guides with preliminary information. Among the better general bibliographies are: Albert Lasniers Références sur les expositions (1937-1964) (Quebec, 1964); Julia F. Daviss "International Expositions 1851-1900" in American Association of Architectural Bibliographers. Papers 4 (1967): 47-130; Eugene S. Fergusons "Exhibitions," in his Bibliography of the History of Technology (Cambridge, Mass., 1968), 192-200; Josef Mayerhofers "Instrument Makers at Universal Expositions: Bibliography" (n.d., unpublished manuscript in the National Museum of American History branch of SIL); Evelyn Krokers "Publikationen über Weltausstellungen aus dem 19. Jahrhundert als Quelle für die Wirtschafts- und Technikgeschichte," Technikgeschichte in Einzeldarstellungen 17 (1969): 131-47; Osaka Furitsu Tosokans Osaka Furitsu Tosokan zo bnakoku hakurankai [in Japanese] (Kankei shirgo mokuroku, 1971); John R. Mullins Worlds Fairs and Their Impact upon Urban Planning, Council of Planning Librarians, Exchange Bibliography no. 303 (Monticello, Ill., 1972); John Hill and Beverley Carron Paynes compilation Worlds Fairs and Expos: The Modern Era (Belconnen, Australia, 1982); and Martine Wilhelems Inventaire bibliographique des documents et rapports concernant les expositions étrangères figurant aux fonds des principales bibliothèques de Paris depuis lorigine jusquà la fin de la première Moitié du 20e siècle (Paris, 1967). The latter is a useful list of some materials on foreign fairs available in French libraries. Researchers should also be aware of the systematic documentation of worlds fairs being produced by Brigitte Schroeder-Gudehus and Anne Rasmussen, Les fastes du progrès. Le guide des expositions universelles, 1851-1992 (Paris, 1992).
For French fairs, researchers should consult the excellent bibliographies produced by the Institut National des Techniques de la Documentation in Paris. These bibliographies include: Colette Famys Bibliographie analytique de lexposition universelle tenue à Paris en 1878 (1962); Veronique de la Martinierès Bibliographie des documents ayant paru à loccasion de lexposition universelle de 1889 à Paris (1959); and Colette Signats Bibliographie des documents publiés à loccasion de lexposition universelle internationale de 1900 à Paris (1959).
For American fairs, the following reference guides are available: H. Stephen Helton, comp., Preliminary Inventory of the Records of the United States Participation in International Conferences, Commissions, and Expositions. Preliminary Inventories, Record Group 43 (Washington, D.C., 1955); and Earl R. Taylor, comp., A Checklist of the Robert A. Feer Collection of World Fairs of North America (Boston, 1976).
The best bibliographic guides to exhibitions in Great Britain are Board of Trade. Report of the Committee Appointed to Make Enquiries with Reference to the Participation of Great Britain in Great International Exhibitions (2 vols.; London, 1908) and Anthony J. Coulson, A Bibliography of Design in Britain (London, 1979). None of these bibliographies or checklists is complete. Consequently, any researcher would be well advised to consult the national bibliographies for France, Great Britain, the United States, and Australia. More specialized bibliographies, such as the Avery Index of Architectural Periodicals, also refer extensively to exposition literature.
General Histories of International Exhibitions
There are any number of useful introductions to the history of international exhibitions, but books about fairs tend to be profusely illustrated narratives, based on compilations from "official histories" of individual fairs.49 For the most part, they proceed chronologically with chapters centered on the major exhibitions. Written largely by amateur historians, these books are celebratory and nostalgic. Yet they are also filled with detailed information about the fairs and provide important clues about the historical significance of the expositions.
A good starting point for gaining information about specific expositions is John E. Findling and Kimberly D. Pelles Historical Dictionary of Worlds Fairs and Expositions, 1851-1988 (Westport, Conn., 1990). But scholars should continue to consult more traditional encyclopedia entries as well. George Collins Leveys "Exhibition" entry in the eleventh edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica carries the history of exhibitions from biblical times through 1908. Particularly useful are his statistics regarding the size and cost of fairs. Ironically, in light of the train of exhibitions that occurred in the twentieth century, Levey concluded his essay with his opinion that "the evolution of this type of public show had reached its limits." Guy Stanton Fords "Expositions, International" entry in the 1935 edition of the Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences makes clear that interest in expositions remained strong after the First World War. Unlike Levey, Ford introduces the history of international expositions in the context of national and metropolitan rivalries and provides a useful summary of significant displays at major fairs. More recent accounts include Frederick S. Pitteras "Exhibitions and Fairs" in the 1967 Encyclopaedia Britannica and Maurice Tossarts "Expositions universelles et internationales" in the 1964 Larousse dictionnaire de Paris. Another useful overview, albeit from a different perspective, is L.C. Everards "Museums and Exhibitions" in the Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences (1935), which elucidates the impact of fairs on museum exhibits and on the creation of museums themselves.
Additional information about fairs comes from studies that concentrate on organizational aspects of international exhibitions. A good introduction to this subject is Charles Piats Les expositions internationales relevant du Bureau International des Expositions (Paris, 1983), which offers a useful narrative and presents a good collection of documents relating to international treaties and conventions about fairs. Attention should also be given to Alexandre Blochs Foires-Salons Expositions (Paris, 1966) and the older but still valuable accounts provided by Maurice Isaacs Les expositions internationales (Paris, 1936) and H.W. Waterss History of Fairs and Expositions: Their Classification, Functions, and Values (London, 1939). The results of a detailed investigation of the legal complexities posed by fairs are set out in Jean Michel Gerards "Les problèmes juridiques et fiscaux posés par les foires et les expositions" (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Paris I, 1973).
Aside from those contained in encyclopedia entries and organizational studies of fairs, there are several short introductions to expositions, including André Allixs "The Geography of Fairs," Geographical Review 12 (1922): 532-69; H. Baudets "De Geschiedenis der Wereldtentoonstellingen," De Onderneming 8, nos. 8-11 (1958): 340-41, 386-87, 434-35, 482-83, 485; John Maasss "The Great Happenings," Landscape 17 (Winter 1967/1968): 27-32; Lawrence G. Zimmermans "World of Fairs: 1851-1976," Progressive Architecture 55 (August 1974): 64-73; and Graeme Davisons "Exhibitions," Australian Cultural History 2 (1983): 5-21. These articles should be read in conjunction with the following works, which were written with a view toward assessing the changing nature of the exposition medium in an age dominated by electronic media: James Winess "Expo 86: Are Worlds Fairs Obsolete?" Impulse 12 (Summer 1985): 12-17; Neil Harriss "Great American Fairs and American Cities: The Role of Chicagos Columbian Exposition," in his Cultural Excursions: Marketing Appetites and Cultural Tastes in Modern America (Chicago, 1990); and Siegfried Gideons older but still insightful "Can Expositions Survive?" Architectural Forum 69 (December 1938): 439-43. There is also a quarterly newsletter devoted to the study of worlds fairs. Published since 1980, Worlds Fair is an amalgam of popular and scholarly essays covering fairs past and present. It may well afford the best coverage of currently planned fairs.
The outlines of exposition history provided by encyclopedia entries and popular-magazine articles have been filled in by numerous book-length studies. The best historical narrative remains John Allwoods The Great Exhibitions (London, 1977). This ambitious volume provides an overview of international expositions from the Crystal Palace Exhibition through fairs of recent years. But like most chroniclers of fairs, Allwood regards expositions as glittering occasions fit for framing. Nevertheless, his work provides a useful synopsis of individual fairs. Furthermore, he includes a compendium of worlds fair facts and figures regarding attendance, site acreage, and profitability that makes a statistical comparison of fairs possible. A far more nationalistic approach to fairs characterizes Philippe Bouin and Christian Philippe Chanuts Histoire française des foires et des expositions universelles (Paris, 1981). Despite Allwoods tendency toward nostalgia and Bouin and Chanuts toward nationalism, neither of these volumes should be missed by researchers. Both books--together with the Worlds Fair newsletter--testify to the ongoing and thriving tradition of narrative writing about expositions--a tradition that dates from the nineteenth century.
The earliest general histories of international expositions have become one with the events they described. They were nationalistic, expansive, and, on the whole, appreciative of the efforts made by exposition promoters. Like President William McKinley, who was assassinated at the 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, early exposition historians regarded fairs as "timekeepers of progress" that "broaden[ed] and brighten[ed] the lives of the people."50 This tendency toward uncritical writing is not surprising because most general histories of fairs appear as introductory chapters to volumes devoted to forthcoming or to recently completed expositions. Charles B. Norton's Worlds Fairs from London 1851 to Chicago 1893 (Chicago, 1890) is a case in point. Intended to provide historical background for the Worlds Columbian Exposition, Nortons work concentrates on the organization of preceding fairs as well as on selected details of exhibits, architecture, and financing. Similar studies characterize the history of European exhibitions--for instance, Patrick Geddess Industrial Exhibitions and Modern Progress (Edinburgh, 1877) and Adolphe Demys Essai historique sur les expositions universelles de Paris (Paris, 1907). One contemporary history of European fairs that approaches expositions from a different angle is H. Georges Bergers Les expositions internationales (Paris, 1901), which argues that the explicit internationalism of the fairs posed a danger to the nation-state.
After World War I, the continued occurrence of expositions perpetuated this tradition of narrative writing. The following works commemorated the end of two decades of feverish exposition building by discussing the history of fairs along national and chronological lines: Maurice Isaacs Les expositions en France et dans le régime international (Paris, 1928); Raymond Isays Panorama des expositions universelles (Paris, 1937); M. Tamirs Les expositions internationales à travers les âges (Paris, 1939); Colin Simkins Fairs Past and Present (Hartford, Conn., 1939); and George Jacksons A History of Centennials, Expositions and World Fairs (Lincoln, Neb., 1939). Equally notable is Cinquantenaire, 1885-1935 (Paris, 1935), written by the Comité Français des Expositions and Comité National des Expositions Coloniales. This book is easily the most comprehensive of the narrative histories published during this period.
After World War II, expositions continued to be appreciated more often than they were critically studied. Kenneth Luckhursts The Story of Exhibitions aims at "capturing for the general reader something of the romance of exhibitions" while doubling as a general reference book about fairs.51 The result is a volume devoted largely to the history of fairs before the Great Exhibition, with several chapters providing basic information about names, dates, and places for modern fairs as well. Luckhurst, like his contemporary René Poirier, believed that expositions would further world peace and understanding. Poirier concludes his Des foires, des peuples, des expositions (Paris, 1958), a volume consisting of vignettes of major fairs, with an apostrophe to expositions as media that would advance peaceful relations between nations. What Luckhurst and Poirier overlooked, of course, was that fairs in San Francisco (1915 and 1939-40) and New York (1939-40) immediately preceded world wars. And who can forget the powerful image of the Russian and German buildings confronting each other at the 1937 Paris Exposition internationale des arts et des techniques dans la vie moderne?
There have been only a few exceptions to this tendency to write nostalgic general histories of expositions. Perhaps the most important for the development of American exposition studies is historian Merle Curtis 1950 article on Americas efforts to fashion a modern image of itself. In it, Curti argues that Victorian fairs "provided a measuring rod of the relative status of American and European technology [and] a mirror for the changing attitudes of the rest of the world toward American civilization." 52 In the course of urging historians to examine fairs as part of understanding Americas place in the world community, Curti concludes that exhibitions played a decisive role in changing European perceptions of American culture. As thought provoking as the piece is, Curtis admonition and thesis remained unheeded, at least in the short run. A decade and a half later, John Cawelti echoed Curtis lament about the absence of exposition scholarship and proceeded to write an equally thoughtful piece. His "America on Display, 1876, 1893, 1933," in Frederic C. Jahers The Age of Industrialism in America (New York, 1968), suggests the enormous possibilities that could be gained by historical scholarship from a comparative treatment of American fairs through time.
Another American historian, Warren Susman, in "Ritual Fairs," Chicago History 12 (1983): 4-7, posits an equally suggestive framework for assessing fairs. Finding many parallels between medieval festivals and American worlds fairs, Susman argues that expositions served as rites of passage for American society, ritualizing national acceptance of new technologies, new patterns of consumption, and industrial corporations. Interest in providing a critical assessment of fairs is also apparent in Werner von Plums ambitious book. His World Exhibitions in the Nineteenth Century: Pageants of Social and Cultural Change targets fairs as arenas for studying "the ideological projection of the world of the bourgeoisie."53 Unfortunately, in his study, hyperbole overshadows careful analysis of fairs. A more even-handed assessment of worlds fairs is Utz Halterns "Die Welt als Schaustellung," Vierteljahrschrift für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte 60 (1973): 1-40. While emphasizing the impact of national political concerns on fairs (for instance, Bismarcks refusal to participate in the 1878 Paris fair after the Franco-Prussian War, and the refusal of many European governments to send official exhibits to the 1889 Paris fair that commemorated the French Revolution) and the importance of fairs for technological development, Haltern also advances the idea that expositions were responsible for compelling numerous labor and business associations to think in terms of an emerging global village. An equally important exception to nostalgic histories of expositions is Paul Greenhalghs Ephemeral Vistas: The Expositions Universelles, Great Exhibitions and Worlds Fairs, 1851-1939 (Manchester, 1988). Published as part of the Manchester University Presss series on imperialism, this work argues that fairs were ideological constructions that confirmed the existing social order in Europe and America. Although his treatment of particular fairs is thin, his book--by taking a broad thematic view of expositions--confirms that new directions are appearing in the study of worlds fairs.
In recent years, some of the most significant advances in the study of worlds fairs have been made in conjunction with museum exhibits. A 1973 exhibition on worlds fairs at Munichs Staatliches Museum für angewandte Kunst occasioned Christian Beutlers Weltausstellungen im 19. Jahrhundert (Munich, 1973). This catalog, with essays by Beutler and Gunter Metken, likens fairs to a technological nervous system pulsating with ideas about national and technological progress. The American bicentennial occasioned an exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution commemorating the Smithsonians involvement with the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition a century earlier. Robert Posts catalog for the Smithsonian exhibition, 1876: A Centennial Exhibition (Washington, D.C., 1976), includes a variety of essays about the Philadelphia fair that offer insights into the range of exhibits at the centennial spectacle. Four years later, in 1980, the Queens Museum organized an exhibition on the 1939-40 New York Worlds Fair and published the catalog Dawn of a New Day (New York, 1980), edited by Helen Harrison, which contains a series of important thematic essays devoted to various aspects of that fair. In 1982-83, an exhibition about the 1915 San Francisco fair at the Lowie Anthropology Museum at the University of California and a 1983 "Expo des Expos" exhibition about the history of worlds fairs at the Musée des Arts Decoratifs in Paris led to the production of two important volumes of essays. Burton Benedicts lengthy introduction to the first of these volumes, The Anthropology of Worlds Fairs: San Franciscos Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915 (Berkeley, 1983), not only provides a concise survey of worlds fairs but also constructs a paradigm for assessing fairs as modern-day potlatches, or rituals of display and competition. The second of these volumes of essays, a catalog produced by the Union Centrale des Arts Decoratifs, entitled Le livre des expositions universelles 1851-1989 (Paris, 1983), also takes a measure of critical distance from the fairs and offers a series of insightful thematic essays about the relationship of fairs to industrializing societies and about the interrelatedness of artistic, scientific, and colonial displays at various expositions. Less engaging, but still informative, is 1889. La tour Eiffel et lexposition universelle (Paris, 1989), produced for a 1989 exhibition at the Musée dOrsay.
Given the influence of international fairs on the development of museums (as documented in Gordon Reekies "Expositions, Exhibits, and Todays Museums," Natural History 73 [June/July 1964]: 20-29, and in Eugene Fergusons "Technical Museums and International Exhibitions," Technology and Culture 6 : 30-46), it is fitting that museum curators have returned the favor and have attempted to influence the course of worlds fair studies through published catalogs with thematic essays. In the drive to construct new paradigms for examining fairs, however, it is important not to lose interest in the actual history of expositions. Recent theoretical models--constructed largely on the basis of printed sources--need to be tested against the more complete historical record that includes an abundance of unpublished material as well as printed books and pamphlets.
Any professional historian interested in writing a general history of worlds fairs will have to buck tradition. For the most part, professional historians have shied away from writing general histories of fairs, preferring instead to concentrate on studies of individual expositions as reflections of particular societies. The absence of attention by professional historians to the history of the international exhibition movement is puzzling, especially when, in the case of American historiography, three of Americas preeminent historians were involved with fairs. Frederick Jackson Turner delivered his famous paper on the significance of the frontier in American history at a meeting of the American Historical Association at the 1893 fair, while Hubert Howe Bancroft wrote a history of that event. One of the leading historians of the next generation, Charles Beard, accepted a contract from the 1933-34 Century of Progress Exposition to produce his Century of Progress (New York, 1932). The reason, in part, that subsequent generations of historians have slighted the importance of fairs is that international exhibitions--which were intended to be "encyclopedias of civilization"54--were too comprehensive for a profession becoming increasingly specialized along lines that, until recently, did not include popular culture or the history of technology. The history of technology is important in this context because when the Library of Congress decided to classify exposition publications within the "T," or technology, range it placed expositions in a category that most historians were not prepared to address. The upshot of these professional and taxonomic developments was that until quite recently the task of writing general histories of international fairs remained largely in the hands of buffs, whose fond memories of past expositions testify to the ongoing allure and significance of fairs as reassuring oases in a world lacking fixed points.
Histories of Individual Fairs
The earliest histories of individual expositions were official histories commissioned by fair officials or popular histories commissioned by publishing houses in response to perceived public interest in a fair. Not surprisingly, these early histories lacked perspective and tended to gloss over problems concerning fair management. Despite their bulk--J.W. Buels ten-volume history of the St. Louis fair is a good example--none of these histories stands as definitive. Rather, they tend to be compilations of publicity materials and are best regarded as primary rather than secondary sources. Nevertheless, these histories provide a wealth of information about the organization and content of particular exhibits as well as a mass of detail about the origins of the fairs they examine. Like topographical maps of difficult and complex terrains, these early histories are ignored at great peril, but they should not be misread as infallible guides to the tangled underbrush of exposition realities.
Typical of the popular history and official history genres are works compiled by Hubert Howe Bancroft and James B. Haynes. At the time Bancroft produced The Book of the Fair: An Historical and Descriptive Presentation of the Worlds Science, Art, and Industry, as Viewed through the Columbian Exposition at Chicago in 1893 Designed to Set Forth the Display Made by the Congress of Nations, of Human Achievement in Material Form, so as the More Effectually to Illustrate the Progress of Mankind in All the Departments of Civilized Life (Chicago, 1895), he was one of Victorian Americas leading historians. As the full title of his history makes clear, he regarded the fair not only as an epochal event in the history of Western civilization, but as a challenge for the historian. Once the buildings and exhibits were gone, Bancroft explained in the preface, "all that will be left of this brilliant spectacle will be in the minds of men and in printers ink." Consequently, the historian of the fair had a responsibility to produce a special book: "It should be in the strictest sense a work of art as well as of material and moral instruction, and above all should faithfully reproduce this panorama of the nations, so brilliant and yet so transitory." For Bancroft, the fair and the book became one and "would exercise an influence for good throughout the centuries."
That official historians saw their books performing a similar function is hardly surprising because commissioned histories were intended to memorialize particular fairs and were frequently written by the directors themselves. James B. Hayness History of the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition of 1898 (Omaha, 1910) was commissioned by the board of directors of the Omaha fair and included several chapters written by one of the directors and one chapter by the architects in charge of the fair. Other official histories were written in a similar vein. Buels history of the St. Louis fair consisted largely of reports from division chiefs of the exposition, while Frank Morton Todds five-volume history of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco relied heavily on files from the expositions department of publicity. The still unpublished history of Portlands 1905 Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition was written by the expositions general secretary. Like Bancroft, official historians saw their histories as vehicles for perpetuating the influence of the fairs. Official histories, in short, were works of propaganda--a word used at the turn of the century to mean advertising.
Several generations of historians have come and gone before these contemporary chroniclers of fairs were taken at their word. In the meantime, individual fairs--especially the Crystal Palace Exhibition, the Philadelphia Centennial, and the Worlds Columbian Exposition--received sporadic attention from historians. In 1937, British historian Christopher Hobhouse wrote 1851 and the Crystal Palace (London, 1937), in which he argued that the Crystal Palace had marked a watershed in British history. A year later, John Clarke Lathrops unpublished "The Philadelphia Exhibition of 1876: A Study of Social and Cultural Implications" (M.A. thesis, Rutgers University, 1936) regarded the Philadelphia fair as marking a similar turning point in American cultural history. Reflecting the dominant concern of the New Deal generation for government planning was Maurice F. Neufelds insightful study of the 1893 Chicago fair, "The Contribution of the Worlds Columbian Exposition of 1893 to the Idea of a Planned Society in the United States" (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin, 1935), which he summarized in "The White City: The Beginnings of a Planned Civilization in America," Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 27 (April 1934): 71-93. As suggestive and important as they were, these works attracted little notice and had little immediate effect on exposition studies. Not until the 1950s when Great Britain celebrated the centennial of the Crystal Palace Exhibition with the Festival of Britain did the 1851 exhibition receive sustained scholarly attention. In the United States, the stimulus for studying American fairs came from the upsurge of interest in American culture sparked by newly institutionalized American studies programs. On the continent, however, scholarly attention to fairs lagged despite the upsurge of interest in studying mentalités and structures of meaning.55 Even in the United States and England, interest in fairs was limited to a few great exhibitions.
At the end of the Second World War, the Royal Society of Arts (the original sponsor of the Crystal Palace Exhibition) laid plans to commemorate the centenary of the 1851 exhibition with a Festival of Britain. While it would be unwise to attribute too much to the Festivals influence on scholarship, it did focus popular and academic attention on the earlier fair. In addition to prompting Luckhursts general history of fairs, the Festival appears to have encouraged several histories of the Crystal Palace, notably Yvonne Ffrenchs The Great Exhibition (London, 1951), C.R. Fays Palace of Industry, 1851 (Cambridge, 1951), and C.H. Gibbs-Smiths The Great Exhibition of 1851: A Commemorative Album (London, 1950). Oxford historian Asa Briggs certainly did not require the external stimulus of the Festival for his Victorian People (Chicago, 1955), but he wrote his assessment of Victorianism against the backdrop of renewed interest in the 1851 fair. He began his book with a chapter devoted to the Crystal Palace as the starting point for a survey of nineteenth-century England and as the best source for "catching the spirit of 1851."56 For Briggs, the Crystal Palace served as a symbol for the age, mirroring the fragility and substance of mid-Victorian political culture.
The centenary of the Crystal Palace Exhibition also renewed interest in Americas role in the British fair, especially in the triumphant displays of American manufacturing. In addition to Curtis "America at the Worlds Fairs, 1851-1893," the centenary also prompted Marcus Cunliffes more narrowly focused "America at the Great Exhibition of 1851," American Quarterly 3 (1951): 115-26, which argued that the Crystal Palace had improved the images that Americans and the British had of one another. Two years later, Thomas Parke Hughes undertook an in-depth investigation of the 1851 fair. His dissertation, "Industry through the Crystal Palace: A Study of the Great Exhibition Held in London, 1851" (University of Virginia, 1953), remains one of the best systematic overviews of the exhibition from this period and should be read in conjunction with Robert F. Dalzell, Jr.s American Participation in the Great Exhibition of 1851 (Amherst, Mass., 1960), which concentrates on American exhibits and on American attitudes toward England at mid-century.
After the rush of attention to the Crystal Palace in the 1950s, the London exhibition receded from the limelight until the late 1960s and early 1970s when the narrative tradition of writing about expositions was informed by the analytical work of British historians E.P. Thompson and Raymond Williams.57 G.R. Kestevens 1851: Britain Shows the World (London, 1968), with its description of the origins, aims, and consequences of the fair, represented the ongoing narrative tradition in British exposition studies. Utz Halterns Die Londoner Weltausstellung von 1851: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der bürgerlich-industriellen Gesellschaft im 19. Jahrhundert (Münster, 1971) represented the newer historical approach in its broadly based assessment of the overlapping economical, political, and cultural thrusts of the fair.
When the historiographical net is cast beyond the 1851 event, the returns are small. Aside from the Crystal Palace, none of the other international fairs held in Great Britain had been the subject of a published monograph. Only recently has there been much curiosity about any of the fairs that followed the Crystal Palace. Kenneth Walthews "The British Exhibition of 1924," History Today 31 (1981): 34-39, is the first effort to treat the Wembley exposition as a serious event in British imperial history. More recently, in one chapter of Propaganda and Empire: The Manipulation of British Public Opinion, 1880-1960, historian John M. Mackenzie suggests that too much emphasis has been placed on the Crystal Palace and argues provocatively that the fairs following the Crystal Palace actually "provide the best insights into national obsessions, character, and morale."58 His chapter on the imperial exhibitions may lack sufficient detail to make his case completely convincing, but his hypothesis should stimulate further investigation into these long-ignored artifacts of empire.
Surprisingly, there has been more interest in the British fairs and exhibitions that preceded the Crystal Palace than in those that followed. In addition to Kenneth E. Carpenters "European Industrial Exhibitions before 1851 and Their Publications," Technology and Culture 13 (July 1972): 465-86, Toshio Kusamitsus "Great Exhibitions before 1851," History Workshop no. 9 (Spring 1980): 70-89, examines the chain of exhibitions sponsored by mechanics institutes that preceded the Crystal Palace and argues that these earlier exhibitions contributed to the later national event. Richard Alticks Shows of London (Cambridge, 1978) explores an earlier exhibition tradition as well, but concentrates on popular entertainment. According to Altick, the Crystal Palace consummated the drive toward providing rational entertainment for the masses. Historian Hugh Cunningham has pushed Alticks argument one step further. In Leisure in the Industrial Revolution (London, 1980), he describes the exhibition as an effort to control and consolidate popular culture. The precise relationship between the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations and earlier exhibitions needs further study, but much groundwork has been completed.
Just as studies of the Crystal Palace Exhibition have dominated histories of the exposition movement in Great Britain, so have histories of the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial and the 1893 Chicago Worlds Columbian Exposition dominated the study of American expositions. Other universal-scale fairs like the 1915 San Francisco Panama-Pacific International Exposition and the 1904 St. Louis Louisiana Purchase Exposition have received little or--in the case of the St. Louis fair--no sustained attention, while most other fairs have received limited notice at best.
Much of the work that has centered on American fairs has been influenced by the concerns of the American studies movement. Founded between the world wars, American studies led historians and literary scholars to consider texts as symbolic reflections of American society. At the same moment that American studies was coalescing into a professional discipline, two unpublished doctoral dissertations at universities pioneering in American studies examined the Philadelphia fair as emblematic of cultural crosscurrents in American life. Dorothy E.C. Ditters "The Cultural Climate of the Centennial City: Philadelphia, 1875-1876" (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Pennsylvania, 1947) examines the impact of the fair on Philadelphia; Christine Hunter Donaldsons "The Centennial of 1876: The Exposition and Culture for America" (Ph.D. dissertation, Yale University, 1948) argues that the fair lent form and content to efforts to make America the cultural equal of Europe. Two other dissertations made the Worlds Columbian Exposition the centerpiece for understanding America in the late nineteenth century. Robert Knutsons "The White City--The Worlds Columbian Exposition of 1893" (Ph.D. dissertation, Columbia University, 1956) and David Crooks "Louis Sullivan, the Worlds Columbian Exposition, and American Life" (Ph.D. dissertation, Harvard University, 1963) underscore the pivotal importance of the Worlds Columbian Exposition for fin-de-siècle America.
Scholarly interest in the Centennial and Worlds Columbian expositions continued to deepen in the 1970s. As the nations bicentennial approached, two important volumes were written about the 1876 fair. John Maasss The Glorious Enterprise (Watkins Glen, NY, 1973) provides a detailed history of origins, operations, and architecture of the Centennial. Together with Robert Posts 1876: A Centennial Exhibition, produced for the Smithsonian Institutions bicentennial exhibition, Maasss book stands as an important statement about the ongoing influence of the 1876 fair on American life.
National interest in the bicentennial provided the stimulus for several recent histories of the Worlds Columbian Exposition. David F. Burgs Chicagos White City of 1893 reflects the bicentennial spirit and regards Chicagos White City as "a moment of rapture, inspiration, and hope" that "warrants rescue from the past" and "remains symbolic of a harmonious urban world still worthy of pursuit."59 Rodney Reid Badgers The Great American Fair: The Worlds Columbian Exposition and American Culture offers a more thoughtful assessment. According to Badger, "the more the fair accurately mirrored the conflicts and self-doubt within the culture, the more important it was that it also provide an image of cultural unity and self-confidence."60 Nearly three decades after American studies began, Badger produced the definitive myth/symbol treatment of the Worlds Columbian Exposition.
Significantly, interest in treating the Chicago fair as the symbol for the age has remained keen as evidenced by Stanley Appelbaums The Chicago Worlds Fair of 1893 (New York, 1980) and Dennis B. Downeys "Rite of Passage: The Worlds Columbian Exposition and American Life" (Ph.D. dissertation, Marquette University, 1981). What has changed, however, is the meaning historians have affixed to the fair as a symbol. In his Incorporation of America, Alan Trachtenberg argues that the Worlds Columbian Exposition was integral to the efforts by "ruling groupsto win hegemony over the emerging national culture"61--a point Robert Rydell, in All the Worlds a Fair: Visions of Empire at American International Expositions, 1876-1916 (Chicago, 1984), developed into an explanation of the cultural function of the American worlds fair movement between the end of Reconstruction and the onset of World War I. James Gilbert, in Perfect Cities: Chicagos Utopias of 1893 (Chicago, 1991), offers a different interpretation of the fairs significance, stressing the many levels of compromise between the intentions of worlds fair promoters and the audiences they tried to instruct.
Beyond Philadelphias Centennial City and Chicagos White City, historical study of American expositions is a curious mixture of richness and poverty. The four essays in Burton Benedicts Anthropology of Worlds Fairs that examine the Panama-Pacific International Exposition present the best treatment of that fair since Frank Morton Todds official history, but the San Francisco fair still needs detailed historical treatment on the same order as Burgs and Badgers investigations of the Worlds Columbian Exposition. Still, the historiographical situation with respect to the Panama-Pacific Exposition is a vast improvement over the St. Louis case. Historians have leapfrogged over the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. Dorothy Birks The World Came to Saint Louis (St. Louis, 1979) recalls the importance of the fair and should be credited for reminding historians of the cultural legacy of that exposition, but this volume falls into the tradition of narrative writing about fairs. To my knowledge, there is not one dissertation, much less a published scholarly monograph, devoted to the history of this exposition--arguably an even more important fair for the development of the midwestern economy than the Chicago fair of the previous decade.
Ironically, we know more about the smaller fairs that preceded and followed the St. Louis extravaganza than we do about the St. Louis fair itself. As early as 1957, Charles Hirschfelds "America on Exhibition: The New York Crystal Palace," American Quarterly 9 (1957): 101-16, hinted at the possibilities of increasing our understanding of American political culture in the decade before the Civil War by subjecting the 1853 fair to rigorous historical scrutiny. Six years later, Ivan D. Steen made the point that the 1853 Crystal Palace Exhibition reflected "the emergence of a growing awareness that America was not apart from but a part of the world."62 Most recently, Robert Posts "Reflections of American Science and Technology at the New York Crystal Palace Exhibition of 1853," Journal of American Studies 17 (1983): 337-56, has secured the place of the exposition in the history of American technology.
In the only modern study to focus exclusively on the 1905 Portland fair, The Great Extravaganza: Portland and the Lewis and Clark Exposition (Portland, 1981), Carl Abbott argues that the Portland exposition was an important event for the economic and cultural development of the Pacific Northwest. His book on the Portland fair should be read alongside his "Norfolk in the New Century: The Jamestown Exposition and Urban Boosterism," Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 85 (1977): 86-96, which offers a useful introduction to the Jamestown Tercentennial Exposition of 1907. David Clive Hardys "The Worlds Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition" (M.A. thesis, Tulane University, 1964) follows C. Vann Woodwards suggestion to examine southern fairs as "illustrations of the New South movement"63 and updates Herbert Fairalls The Worlds Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition (Iowa City, 1885). Walter G. Coopers The Cotton States and International Exposition and South Illustrated (Atlanta, 1895) and Herman Justis Official History of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition (Nashville, 1898) stand as the only full-length histories of these fairs.
Another important fair, Omahas 1898 Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition, has also received a surprising amount of attention. As early as 1929, Virginia Grace Gregory wrote a masters thesis on the Omaha fair: "The Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition at Omaha, 1898" (M.A. thesis, University of Nebraska). Her account has been significantly revised by Kenneth G. Alferss "The Trans-Mississippi Exposition" (M.A. thesis, Creighton University, 1968), summarized in his "Triumph of the West: The Trans-Mississippi Exposition," Nebraska History 53 (1972): 313-29, and by Robert Rydells "The Trans-Mississippi International Exposition: To Work Out the Problem of Universal Civilization," American Quarterly 33 (1981): 354-61. With Barry J. McMahons "Seattles Commercial Aspiration as Expressed in the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, 1909" (M.A. thesis, Washington State University, 1960), George A. Frykmans "Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, 1909," Pacific Northwest Quarterly 53 (1962): 89-99, and Rydells "Visions of Empire: International Expositions in Portland and Seattle," Pacific Historical Review 52 (1983): 37-65, there is more substantive information available for the 1909 Seattle exposition than for the 1904 St. Louis fair, though the latter attracted between twelve and fourteen million visitors, nearly four times the attendance at Seattles exposition.
Americas interwar fairs have yet to receive their due from historians. Warren Susmans eye-opening "The Peoples Fair: Contradictions of a Consumer Society," in his Culture as History (New York, 1984), suggests that the 1939-40 New York Worlds Fair--and the worlds fair movement of the 1920s and 1930s--can be understood as an effort to resolve the cultural contradictions of consumer capitalism. This powerful thesis--supplementing Susmans earlier argument about the ritualistic nature of fairs in "Ritual Fairs," Chicago History 12 (Fall 1983): 4-7--and Howard P. Segals argument about their utopian qualities in Technological Utopianism in American Culture (Chicago, 1985) should be tested with careful investigation into the range of fairs that were held before and after the Great Depression.
On the whole, American fairs have received more attention than British or continental fairs, but American historians, like their British counterparts, have tended to concentrate on great exhibitions. Notwithstanding recent efforts by Benedict, Cawelti, Rydell, Susman, and Trachtenberg to rethink the history and significance of fairs along diachronic and synchronic lines, much more digging into manuscript and published sources needs to be undertaken before any claim can be made to a thorough understanding of the many fairs that informed American culture after 1853.
Whatever its shortcomings, scholarship on British and American fairs has outpaced work on expositions in Europe. More than two decades ago, Richard Mandell noted the paucity of historical work on French fairs. His Paris 1900: The Great Worlds Fair (Toronto, 1967) remains the best history of the Universal Exposition, and his bibliographic essay stands as the best overview in English of available source materials, though researchers should be aware of the useful supplement provided by Madeleine Reberiouxs "Approches de lhistoire des expositions universelles à Paris du Second Empire à 1900," Bulletin du centre dhistoire economique et sociale de la région Lyonnaise 1 (1979): 1-20. What these studies make clear is that works published between the turn of the century and the Second World War on French expositions--especially the previously noted studies by Adolphe Demy and Maurice Isaac as well as Jacques Chastenets three-volume Histoire de la troisième république (Paris, 1952) with its useful chapters on the 1878, 1889, and 1900 expositions--need revision in light of new directions in French historiography. The recent history of French universal fairs by Pascal Ory, Les expositions universelles de Paris (Paris, 1982), falls into the tradition of the popular narrative and supplements the earlier and still useful Cinquantenaire, 1885-1935 written by the Comité Français des Expositions and Comité National des Expositions Coloniales. Until recently, there has been little historical analysis of the 1889 Paris fair. But a recent edition of Le Mouvement Social no. 149 (Octobre-Decembre 1989), edited by Madeleine Reberioux, contains several scholarly essays about the 1889 exposition that should untrack French exposition studies. Together with Orys brief 1889, lExpo Universelle (Brussels, 1989) and Debora Silvermans "The 1889 Exhibition: The Crisis of Bourgeois Individualism," Oppositions 8 (1978): 71-91, Reberiouxs work underscores the rising scholarly interest in the 1889 exposition. Perhaps that interest will stimulate additional work on the 1900 fair and lead scholars to elaborate on Mandells many insights into the 1900 exhibition as an "integral part of Frances domestic and foreign policy."64 There is already growing interest in the great Paris fairs of the 1920s and 1930s, as evidenced by Pierre Noras Les lieux de memoire (Paris, 1984). If these recent publications are any indication, it seems clear that a major rediscovery of the cultural importance of French expositions is under way.
Fairs in the Low Countries also need thorough investigation by historians. For reasons that would be fascinating to explore, Belgium has held ten universal and international fairs since the Antwerp exhibition in 1885, but these fairs have been the subject of only one general survey--A. Cockx and J. Lemmenss Les expositions universelles et internationales en Belgique de 1885 à 1958 (Brussels, 1958), published on the occasion of the 1958 Brussels fair--and a narrower monograph, Luc Vintss Kongo, Made in Belgium (Brussels, 1984), that focuses on colonial exhibits at the Belgian fairs. Neither volume does justice to the complex interrelationship of the industrial, scientific, and colonial displays that dominated these fairs. Similarly, little has been written about the fairs in the Netherlands, with the exception of Ileen Montijns short Kermis van Koophandel. De Amsterdamse Wereldtentoonstelling van 1883 (Bussum, 1983), which commemorated the centenary of the Amsterdam fair. Where the rest of the continent is concerned, studies are badly needed of fairs in Spain, Portugal, and Italy, while the absence of a major worlds fair in Germany surely deserves attention.
Very little has been written about fairs outside Europe and North America. There is no history of the exhibition movement in Latin America or Japan. British colonial fairs in South Africa have never received monographic treatment. The same situation exists with respect to French colonial fairs, though these fairs have received some attention in general studies of French colonialism, such as R. Girardets Lidée coloniale en France, 1871-1962 (Paris, 1978); Thomas G. Augusts "Colonial Policy and Propaganda: The Popularization of the Idée Coloniale in France, 1919-1939" (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1978); and William Schneiders "Colonies at the 1900 World Fair," History Today 31 (1981): 31-36 and his "The Image of West Africa in Popular French Culture, 1870-1900" (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Pennsylvania, 1976). But, as with André Castelots "LExposition Coloniale," Historia Magazine, no. 140 (1970): 1218-23, and Sylvie Palas text for Documents Exposition Coloniale, Paris, 1931 (Paris, 1981), the literatures emphasis rests on displays of colonial people at Paris fairs. No study has yet been produced of the series of French expositions in southeast Asia, epitomized by the Hanoi fair of 1902-3. Paul Bourgeois and G.-Roger Sandozs Exposition dHanoi, 1902-1903 and Ducarrés [pseud.?] Mission à lexposition de Hanoi (n.p., 1903) remain the standard sources. Indeed, the only Asian fair to attract serious notice thus far has been the 1910 Nanking exposition. Michael R. Godleys superb piece of detective work "Chinas Worlds Fair of 1910: Lessons from a Forgotten Event," Modern Asian Studies 12 (1978): 503-22, is an example of how the study of an exposition can illuminate the strains on traditional societies brought by modernizing efforts. Of fairs in the British empire, only the Australian exhibitions are beginning to receive adequate attention, perhaps in response to Australias 1988 world exposition. John Parris and A.G.L. Shaws "The Melbourne International Exhibition, 1880-1881," Victorian Historical Magazine 4 (1980): 237-53, and Peter Mercers "The Tasmanian International Exhibition, 1894-1895," Tasmanian Historical Research Society Proceedings (March 1981): 17-47, have been important first steps in assessing the impact of these fairs on Australias cultural identity, though any comprehensive study will have to include Australian exhibits at American and European fairs as well.
One additional category of fairs deserves exploration in light of the growing interest in worlds fairs. Local or municipal fairs often provided resources--in terms of both exhibits and personnel--for worlds fairs and served as showcases for popular displays from international expositions. Philip D. Spiess IIs "Exhibitions and Expositions in 19th-Century Cincinnati," Cincinnati Historical Society Bulletin 28 (1970): 171-92, elucidates the importance of the municipal fair for providing managers for international expositions, while Rydells "Visions of Empire: International Expositions in Portland and Seattle," cited earlier, notes the role of local fairs in perpetuating popular shows from worlds fairs. The reciprocal relationship between local fairs and international expositions deserves far more attention and would illuminate the process of cultural organization on local, national, and international levels.
In sum, the historiography of individual fairs is dominated by studies of a few great expositions. Of the other fairs, probably less than one-tenth have been taken seriously enough by scholars to merit individual histories. As this situation begins to change, scholars will be able to draw on a third category of exposition literature that is broadly thematic in focus.
Thematic and Topical Studies of International Expositions
To understand the significance of international fairs, one is not obliged to read or to write a monograph on a single fair or even on a variety of fairs. Many scholars have pursued a convergent track, choosing to make one fair the unit for illustrating a particular problem in their chosen fields of specialization. These studies of gender conflict, racism and ethnicity, international relations, technology and science, art and architecture, as well as entertainment and mass communication, reflect the areas of life that international fairs helped to shape. At the same time, it is striking to note that most of these thematic studies concentrate on single fairs and thus miss the opportunity that expositions afford to explore change and continuity within a relatively fixed cultural medium.
Though womens history is a relatively new field of study, the role of women in international fairs has received careful study over the past decade, undoubtedly reflecting the debates about womens political and economic rights at the expositions themselves. In their early examination of the 1853 fair, "Americas First Worlds Fair," Readers Digest 34 (April 1939): 90-94, Alice Mary Kimball and Wanda Wellner reminded their readers of the womens rights convention that took place at the fair. That connection between suffragists and fairs continued in 1876 when activist Susan B. Anthony seized the podium at the opening ceremonies of the Centennial Exhibition to demand political rights for women. At subsequent fairs, the question of womens participation and the nature of that participation often centered on whether a separate womens building should be built or whether exhibits by women should be integrated into already existing exhibition categories. The implications of that controversy continued to be a source of debate in the secondary literature, beginning with A. Kimball and W. Wellners "Fair Ways to Freedom: Worlds Fairs and Centennials as Battle Grounds in American Womens Struggle for Equal Rights," Independent Woman 17 (November 1938): 343-61. Their useful overview of the major issues in that controversy has been updated by recent research. In 1974, several studies appeared about the Womans Building at the 1893 Worlds Columbian Exposition, arguably the most important gathering of womens exhibits ever assembled. Jocelynn Snyder-Otts "Womans Place in the Home (that she built)," Feminist Art Journal 3 (1974): 7-8, and Duncan R. Jamiesons "Womens Rights at the Worlds Fair, 1893," Illinois Quarterly 37 (1974): 5-20, call attention to the political importance of the exhibits for women, while Ann Massas "Black Women in the White City," Journal of American Studies 8 (1974): 319-37, and Erlene Stetsons "A Note on the Womans Building and Black Exclusion," Heresies 2 (1979): 45-47, emphasize the racism that constricted the gender consciousness of the white women constituting the Board of Lady Managers. These issues formed the starting point for Jeanne M. Weimanns The Fair Women (Chicago, 1981). Weimanns in-depth account--summarized in her "The Great 1893 Womans Building: Can We Measure Up in 1992?" Ms Magazine 11 (1983): 65-67--presents a thorough examination of the controversies that surrounded the creation of the Womans Building, but has been criticized by Frances K. Pohl for neglecting the broader cultural context of the fair. Pohls "Historical Reality or Utopian Ideal? The Womans Building at the Worlds Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893" stresses the fact that the creation of exhibits for the display involved an international network of women advocating the goal of womens rights. At the same time, Pohl emphasizes that the exhibits intended to depict the living conditions of women were "limited by [their organizers] race and class" and that race and class also impinged on "their ability to present the intellectual, artistic, and scientific achievements of all women."65 The women who organized the exhibits for the 1893 fair, in other words, could not escape the configurations of race and class that dominated fin-de-siècle America--and the Worlds Columbian Exposition itself.
In "Women and Worlds Fairs: American International Expositions, 1876-1904" (Ph.D. dissertation, Emory University, 1982), Virginia Grant Darney tries to redirect the focus of this debate by examining womens involvement in the Philadelphia, Chicago, Atlanta, and St. Louis fairs. She found a change in womens consciousness from an emphasis on gender segregation at the earlier fairs to an emphasis on gender integration at the 1904 St. Louis fair. Whether this thesis can be borne out will depend on a thorough investigation of Julia Ward Howes activities on behalf of women at the 1884-85 New Orleans fair and on further investigation into womens involvement with fairs that followed the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. Whatever the results of such studies, important possibilities exist for additional comparative work on womens involvement in international exhibitions. One might start with the 1900 Womens Exhibition in London.
Another relatively new discipline--ethnic studies--has drawn attention to international fairs as recorders, reflectors, and shapers of the relationship between particular ethnic communities and the dominant society. Scholarship has been particularly intensive with respect to exposition involvement by American blacks and American Indians, with less attention given to the roles played by white ethnic groups, Hispanics, and Asians. As early as 1947, Ruth M. Wintons "Negro Participation in Southern Expositions, 1881-1915," Journal of Negro Education 16 (Winter 1947): 34-43, reminded scholars of the importance of black exhibits to the success of fairs held in the New South. More recently, historians Elliot Rudwick and August Meier have explored the relationship between blacks and the Worlds Columbian Exposition. In "Black Man in the White City: Negroes and the Columbian Exposition, 1893," Phylon 26 (1965): 354-61, they document the controversy among blacks about how best to respond to the refusal by exposition directors to include a separate black exhibit. Some blacks, led by antilynching crusader Ida Wells, responded by urging blacks to boycott the fair. Other blacks, including Frederick Douglass, advised blacks to regard the fair as an opportunity to make clear to white fair-goers how far blacks had progressed since emancipation. In another article, "Come to the Fair," The Crisis 72 (March 1965): 146-50, 194-98, Rudwick and Meier pursue the relationship between blacks and worlds fairs into the 1930s and emphasize how the refusal by the directors of the 1939-40 New York Worlds Fair to include black exhibits politicized the black community. An equally important article is Philip Foners "Black Participation in the Centennial of 1876," Negro History Bulletin 39 (1976): 533-38, in which he documents the blatant discrimination against blacks at the Centennial Exposition. William Ziegler Schencks "Negro Participation in Three Southern Expositions" (M.A. thesis, University of North Carolina, 1970) is an important addition to historical knowledge about the content of exhibits at southern fairs. Rydell, in All the Worlds a Fair, contrasts the relative willingness of southern whites to include black exhibits at fairs in the American South with the reluctance of white fair authorities in the North and West to follow suit, but the subject needs additional work. Similarly, a study is badly needed of black expositions on the state and national levels. Such a study would provide important insight into the political culture of black communities in post-emancipation America.
Scholars interested in Native American history have also demonstrated increased interest in international fairs. Americas bicentennial provided the occasion for Robert A. Trennerts "A Grand Failure: The Centennial Indian Exhibition of 1876," Prologue 6 (1974): 118-29. More recently, Robert Bigart and Clarence Woodcocks "The Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition and the Flathead Delegation," Montana, the Magazine of Western History 29 (Autumn 1979): 14-23, examines the American Indian exhibit at the 1898 Omaha fair. These studies of American Indians on display have converged with a growing number of explorations into the history of anthropology. Trennerts essay delves into Smithsonian ethnologists involvement in the 1876 Centennial Exhibition, and a host of studies have examined the exposition activities of individual anthropologists, especially Frederick Ward Putnam and James Mooney. The best account of Putnams involvement with the Indian exhibit at the Worlds Columbian Exposition remains Ralph W. Dexters "Putnams Problems Popularizing Anthropology," American Scientist 54 (1966): 315-32. Mooneys endeavors on behalf of the Smithsonian Institution and the Trans-Mississippi fair have been explored in Lester George Mosess "James Mooney--Ethnologist" (Ph.D. dissertation, University of New Mexico, 1977) and in William Munn Colbys "Routes to Rainey Mountain; A Biography of James Mooney, Ethnologist" (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin, 1977). Broader sweeps of the involvement by anthropologists in international fairs can be found in Judy Brauns "The North American Indian Exhibits at the 1876 and 1893 World Expositions: The Influence of Scientific Thought on Popular Attitudes" (M.A. thesis, George Washington University, 1975); William Schneiders "Race and Empire: The Rise of Popular Ethnography in the Late Nineteenth Century," Journal of Popular Culture 11 (1977): 78-109; Curtis M. Hinsleys "The World as Marketplace: Commodification of the Exotic at the Worlds Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893," in Ivan Karp and Steven D. Lavines Exhibiting Cultures (Washington, D.C., 1991); and Rydells All the Worlds a Fair. Schneiders and Rydells works emphasize the importance of anthropology for legitimizing the white supremacist ideology propagated by French and American fairs, while George Stockings Victorian Anthropology (New York , 1987) underscores the pivotal role of the 1851 Crystal Palace Exhibition in affirming belief in racial hierarchy. Too often, however, the exhibits by and of Native Americans and colonial people have been subsumed under a broader interest in anthropologists and their involvement with the fairs. A comprehensive study of American Indians and other nonwhites on display at American and European fairs would greatly enhance our understanding of popular perceptions of the nonwhite world and deepen our knowledge about the impact of these displays on the nonwhite participants.
The involvement of other ethnic groups in fairs has also been the subject of scholarly investigation, though much more research is needed. Neil Harriss "All the Worlds a Melting Pot? Japan at American Fairs, 1876-1904," in Akira Iriyes Mutual Images: Essays in American-Japanese Relations (Cambridge, Mass., 1975), represents an important breakthrough by drawing attention to the image of Japan presented at American fairs. Significantly, no one has yet examined the Japanese response to American expositions and American involvement in Japanese fairs at the turn of the century. More work is also needed on the relationship between fairs and other Asians. Rydell suggests that the fairs presented highly negative stereotypes of Chinese and Filipinos, but no work has yet been done on South and Southeast Asians involvement in American expositions. As with all groups on display at fairs, we need to know more about what happened to the people and the artifacts that were included in the exhibits and the extent to which exhibits of nonwhite cultures were perpetuated by Americas burgeoning museum movement.
Fairs could also provide revealing insights into shifting attitudes toward other groups of people. Virtually every worlds fair after the 1889 Paris exhibition included an exhibit of "Orientals" from the Middle East, usually inhabiting a display called Cairo Street. St. Louis even included an exhibit devoted to the Streets of Jerusalem. As Zeynep Çelik and Leila Kinney suggest in "Ethnography and Exhibitionism at the Expositions Universelles," Assemblages 13 (1990): 35-59, these shows, with their emphasis on the danse du ventre, represented the intersection of patriarchy and Orientalism. Perhaps, as Timothy Mitchell explains in "The World as Exhibition," Comparative Studies in Society and History 31 (1989): 217-36, representations of the "Orient" were fundamental to Western ideas about truth. Exhibits of white ethnic groups--including Afrikaners, Germans, Irish, and Scandinavians--also proliferated at American fairs, leading some writers, like Paul A. Tenkotte in "Kaleidoscopes of the World: International Exhibitions and the Concept of Culture-Place, 1851-1915," American Studies 28 (Spring 1987): 5-29, to speculate that fairs helped make people tolerant of cultural pluralism. Whether this thesis holds up will depend on much more empirical investigation, especially of the images--presented and received--of different ethnic and national groups at European fairs. An important foundation for this sort of study has been laid by Carol A. Breckenridges "The Aesthetics and Politics of Colonial Collecting: India at Worlds Fairs," Comparative Studies in Society and History 31 (1989): 195-216, and by Ellen M. Litwicki, "The Inauguration of the Peoples Age: The Columbian Quadricentennial and American Culture," Maryland Historian 20 (1989): 47-58.
Ever since Louis Sullivans famous pique about the 1893 fair as a source of architectural dementia,66 historians have been drawn to worlds fairs as proving grounds for architectural ideas. Several important studies of exposition architecture exist, including Siegfried Giedeons dated but stimulating Space, Time, and Architecture (Cambridge, Mass., 1941), which points to the effect of expositions on architectural innovation. One should also consult the following studies: Erich Schilds Zwischen Glaspalast und Palais des Illusions: Form und Konstruktion im 19. Jahrhundert (Berlin, 1967); The Building Erected in Hyde Park for the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations (London, 1852; reissued in 1971 by the Victoria and Albert Museum); Wolfgang Friebes Vom Kristallpalast zum Sonnenturm: Eine Kulturgeschichte der Weltausstellungen (Leipzig, 1983) and his Architektur der Weltausstellungen (Leipzig, 1983); Thomas Hiness Burnham of Chicago: Architect and Planner (New York, 1974); Stephen J. Raiches "The Worlds Fair and the New St. Louis, 1896-1904," Missouri Historical Review 67 (October 1972): 98-121; John Maasss The Glorious Enterprise (Watkins Glen, N.Y., 1973); Joann Marie Thompsons, "The Art and Architecture of the Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo, New York, 1901" (Ph.D. dissertation, Rutgers University, 1980); Joan Elaine Drapers "The San Francisco Civic Center: Architecture, Planning and Politics" (Ph.D. dissertation, University of California-Berkeley, 1979); and various essays in Benedicts Anthropology of Worlds Fairs. With the exception of Giedeons work, these studies raise more questions than they answer about the impact of fairs on urban planning, design, landscape architecture, lighting, and engineering.
As yet, no one has examined a cluster of fin-de-siècle or Depression-era fairs to write a social history (as opposed to a formalistic history) of architecture, though several works point in that direction, especially: G. Leslie Lynchs "Expositions with Particular Reference to Their Design" (M.A. thesis, Harvard University, 1924); Elias Cornells De stora utställingarna: Arkitektur-experiment och kulturhistoria (Stockholm, 1952); Folke Kihlstedts "Formal and Structural Innovations in American Exposition Architecture, 1901-1939" (Ph.D. dissertation, Northwestern University, 1973); William H. Jordys American Buildings and Their Architects, vol. 3 (New York, 1972), chap. 6; Barbara Rubins "Aesthetic Ideology and Urban Design," Annals of the Association of American Geographers 69 (September 1979): 339-61; and Chup Friemerts Die Glaserne Arche: Kristallpalast London 1851 und 1854 (Dresden, 1984). The latter examines the effect that the construction of the Crystal Palace had on workers and explores the role of the 1851 fair and the 1854 Sydenham reconstruction of the Crystal Palace in shaping the way workers perceived industrialization, while Rubins article offers an innovative assessment of the impact of "strip" architecture at several American fairs on the development of vernacular architecture.
Fine-arts historians have also shown interest in international fairs, though surprisingly little effort has been made to explore the reciprocal relationship between modern painting, sculpture, music, and exhibitions. Still, there have been important strides made in the direction of writing about arts social relations with respect to selected American and European fairs. The American Renaissance, 1876-1917 (New York, 1979), with essays by Michael Botwinnick, Richard Guy Wilson, Dianne H. Pilgrim, and Richard N. Murray, examines the artistic and design ideals that suffused American fairs. For British fairs, the best analysis is Nikolaus Pevsners High Victorian Design: A Study of the Exhibition of 1851 (London, 1951), which explores the fair in the context of the debate between Henry Cole and William Morris about what designs are best suited to mass taste. For French fairs, the best overviews are Eliane Wauquiezs "Académisme et modernité" and Yvonne Brunhammers "Des arts appliqués et lindustrie aux métiers dart," both in Le livre des expositions universelles, 1851-1989, but the most detailed study of a single fair is Philippe Julians The Triumph of Art Nouveau: Paris Exhibition in 1900 (New York, 1974).
Elizabeth Holts The Art of All Nations, 1850-1873: The Emerging Role of Exhibitions and Critics (Princeton, 1982) elucidates the basic changes in the attitudes of the artists and the public to all forms of art, and T.J. Clarks The Painting of Modern Life: Paris in the Art of Manet and His Followers (London, 1985) sees Manets LExposition Universelle de 1867 as central to the growth of the spectacle in modern life. Equally valuable are: Paul Greenhalghs "Arts, Politics, and Society at the Franco-British Exhibition of 1908," Art History 8 (December 1985): 434-52; Patricia Mainardis Art and Politics of the Second Empire: The Universal Expositions of 1855 and 1867 (New Haven, 1987); Annette Blaugrunds Paris 1889: American Artists at the Universal Exposition (Philadelphia and New York, 1989), with important contributions by H. Barbara Weinberg, D. Dodge Thompson, Albert Boime, and Richard Guy Wilson; and Debora Silvermans Art Nouveau in Fin-de-Siècle France (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1989), with its fine chapter on art nouveau and the 1900 Paris exposition. In "Van Goghs Starry Night: A History of Matter and a Matter of History," Arts Magazine 59 (December 1984): 86-102, Albert Boime argues that the 1889 Paris exposition provided the inspiration for van Goghs masterwork. Similarly, Peter Parets "Art and the National Image: The Conflict over Germanys Participation in the St. Louis Exposition," Central European History 11 (1978): 173-83, and his "The Artist as Staatsburger: Aspects of the Fine Arts and the Prussian State before and during the First World War," German Studies Review 6 (October 1983): 421-37, call attention to the St. Louis fair as a way to understand the relationship between the fine arts and the Prussian state by dissecting the controversies surrounding the German art exhibit at St. Louis. Robert Williamss Russian Art and American Money, 1900-1940 (Cambridge, Mass., 1980) traces the fate of the Russian art collection at the St. Louis fair and argues that Russian art exhibits were an important part of Russian foreign policy.
Similar approaches could enhance the understanding of American art and national consciousness. And many areas of scholarship, including the history of anthropology and the study of cultural institutions, would benefit from a comparative study of non-Western and Western art at selected fairs. One area of fine arts--music--has been virtually neglected by cultural historians, though Richard Wagner, Camille Saint-Saëns, Edward Elgar, and George Gershwin, not to mention John Philip Sousa, crafted compositions for international fairs, and, according to David M. Guion in "From Yankee Doodle Thro to Handels Largo: Music at the Worlds Columbian Exposition," College Music Symposium 24 (Spring 1989): 81-96, ragtime made its debut at the Chicago 1893 fair. By the same token, scholars interested in the history of modern theater, film, and photography could learn a great deal from the fairs. Imre Kiralfys pageants crossed the Atlantic for numerous expositions. Thomas Edisons motion picture camera was first shown to a mass audience at the Chicago 1893 fair, and subsequent fairs popularized the educational value of motion pictures. Expositions, moreover, brought photography to the masses, and scholars interested in this medium would be well advised to consult Marsha Peters and Bernard Mergens "Doing the Rest: The Uses of Photographs in American Studies," American Quarterly 29 (1977): 280-303, and Peter Bacon Haless "Photography and the Worlds Columbian Exposition: A Case Study," Journal of Urban History 15 (1989): 247-73.
In recent years, expositions, by virtue of their role in disseminating information about new technologies and scientific discoveries, have also served as magnets for historians of technology and science. Eugene Ferguson, in "Expositions of Technology, 1851-1900," in M. Kranzberg and C.W. Purcells Technology in Western Civilization, vol. 1 (New York, 1967), has drawn attention to the importance of worlds fairs in diffusing and promoting technology. This work should be supplemented with a reading of Fergusons "Power and Influence: The Corliss Steam Engine in the Centennial Era," in Margaret Latimers Bridge to the Future: A Centennial Celebration of the Brooklyn Bridge (New York, 1984). One graduate of Delawares program, Monte Calvert, surveyed displays of American technology at expositions held between the Crystal Palace and the 1876 Centennial exhibitions. His "American Technology at World Fairs, 1851-1876" (M.A. thesis, University of Delaware, 1962)--written in the shadow of the controversy at the 1958 Brussels fair over the poor showing of American exhibitors, especially in contrast to their Soviet counterparts--delves into specific industrial exhibits, industrial design, and the self-image of the engineer as revealed through the industrial displays. Calverts contention that the Paris Universal Exposition of 1867 was more important than the Crystal Palace Exhibition for world recognition of American technological genius would be a fascinating subject to pursue.
Historians of technology at the Smithsonian Institution have also generated important assessments of expositions. For instance, Robert Posts "Reflections of American Science and Technology at the New York Crystal Palace Exhibition of 1853," Journal of American Studies 17 (1983): 337-56, examines the importance of technological exhibits at the 1853 exhibition. The best introduction to the collective work of Smithsonian historians on exhibitions is Posts 1876: A Centennial Exhibition (Washington, D.C., 1976)--a volume consisting of several essays devoted to the technology exhibits at the Centennial Exhibition. For additional information about the influence of expositions on particular technologies, one should also consult Smithsonian historian Bernard S. Finns "The Incandescent Electric Light," in Bridge to the Future.
If interest in technology and worlds fairs has been particularly keen at the University of Delaware and the Smithsonian Institution, it has by no means been limited to those institutions. Lowell Tozers "American Attitudes towards Machine Technology, 1893-1933" (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Minnesota, 1953) examines changes in American attitudes toward technology, especially how ambivalence toward technology at the Worlds Columbian Exposition gave way to uncritical acceptance and endorsement of technology at the 1933 Chicago fair. This theme has also been examined by Folke T. Kihlstedts "Utopia Realized: The Worlds Fairs of the 1930s," in Joseph J. Corns Imagining Tomorrow (Cambridge, Mass., 1986). The chapter "The Eiffel Tower and the Ferris Wheel," in John A. Kouwenhovens Half a Truth Is Better Than None (Chicago, 1982), examines two machine-made objects at the Paris and Chicago fairs as indicators of contrasting aesthetic preoccupations in France and America and concludes that the mobility and change that characterized the Ferris wheel had as much influence on the underlying conceptions of modern art as did the more static Eiffel Tower. François Caron and Christine Berthets "Electrical Innovation: State Initiative or Private Initiative? Observations on the 1881 Paris Exhibition," History and Technology 1 (1984): 307-18, and Robert Foxs "Edison et la presse française à lexposition internationale délectricité de 1881," in Fabienne Cardots 1880-1980. Un siècle délectricité dans le monde (Paris, 1987), shift the focus from the Eiffel Tower at the 1889 fair to the impact of earlier Paris expositions on the development of electrical lighting. John W. Stampers "The Galerie des Machines of the 1889 Paris Worlds Fair," Technology and Culture 30 (1989): 330-53, calls attention to the engineering triumph of the Galerie des Machines at the 1889 fair. Equally thoughtful is Bruce Sinclairs "Technology on Its Toes: Late Victorian Ballets, Pageants, and Industrial Exhibitions," in Stephen H. Cutcliffe and Robert C. Posts In Context (Bethlehem, Pa., 1989).
Also important for the study of the relationship between expositions and technological development are Evelyn Krokers "Publikationen über Weltausstellungen aus dem 19. Jahrhundert als Quelle für die Wirtschafts- und Technikgeschichte," Technikgeschichte in Einzeldarstellungen 17 (1969): 131-47, and her Die Weltausstellungen im 19. Jahrhundert (Göttingen, 1975). Krokers article calls attention to fairs as rich sources for the study of the history of technology and economics; her book examines German industrial participation in European fairs held between 1851 and 1880. She argues in Die Weltausstellungen im 19. Jahrhundert, as well as in her more recent preface to Hans Kraemers Die Ingenieurkunst auf der Pariser Weltausstellung 1900 (reprint; Düsseldorf, 1985), that fairs were more important for building the prestige of particular industries than for promoting technological advance. By 1860 the latter function, she argues in her book, had been taken over by technical journals. Fairs popularized new technologies, Kroker believes, but their influence on technological innovation is uncertain. Clearly, the role of fairs in fostering technological change demands further study.
Historians of science, with the exception of historians of anthropology, have only recently turned to scientific exhibitions at fairs as sources for understanding the social history of science, but the 1980s witnessed a growing interest in the subject, culminating in the creation of a research team by Brigitte Schroeder-Gudehus at the Cité des Sciences et de lIndustrie in Paris to study the popularization of science at worlds fairs.67 A 1980 Queens Museum exhibition devoted to the 1939-40 New York Worlds Fair provided the occasion for Dawn of a New Day, a volume of essays edited by Helen Harrison. Among the essays, Joseph Cuskers "The World of Tomorrow: Science, Culture, and Community at the New York Worlds Fair" concentrates on the efforts to popularize science in the midst of the Depression. Robert Rydells "Fan Dance of Science: American Worlds Fairs in the Great Depression," Isis 76 (1985): 525-42, examines the role of scientists and scientific displays at the 1933-34 Chicago and 1939-40 New York fairs. He suggests that interest in pure and applied science played a critical role in buttressing popular respect for scientists as experts having answers to social as well as scientific problems. With respect to scientific displays at European fairs, the best overviews are provided by Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent in Le livre des expositions universelles, 1851-1989 and Pierre-Gerlier Forest and Brigitte Schroeder-Gudehuss "La science à tout faire: Á propos des répresentations scientifiques et techniques dans les expositions universelles," Protée 16 (Autumn 1988): 49-56. More narrowly focused studies of science exhibits at particular European fairs include J.A. Bennetts Science at the Great Exhibition (Cambridge, 1983), an informative account of scientific displays at the Crystal Palace Exhibition, and Jacqueline Eidelmans analysis of science exhibits at the 1937 Paris Exposition internationale des arts et des techniques dans la vie moderne found in "The Cathedral of French Science," in T. Shinn and R. Whitleys Expository Science (Dordrecht, 1985). To date, however, historians of science have only scratched the surface. Much more work remains to be done on the role of scientific exhibits at modern fairs in America and Europe. The involvement of scientists in earlier Victorian fairs could also stand careful scrutiny by historians interested in the social history of science.
In addition to the fields noted above, expositions have shot like tracers through a variety of disciplines. Several studies in religious history have turned to worlds fairs to illuminate the social and intellectual framework of religious controversies. A particularly good example of work in this area is Kenten Druyvesteyns "The Worlds Parliament of Religions" (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Chicago, 1976), an in-depth examination of the Congress of Religions at the Worlds Columbian Exposition. Other examples of scholarship in religious studies relying on expositions as source material include: Arlene Swidlers "Catholics and the 1876 Centennial," The Catholic Historical Review 62 (1976): 349-65; Ben McArthurs "1893: The Chicago Worlds Fair: An Early Test for Adventist Religious Liberty," Adventist Heritage 2 (1975): 11-22; and Dennis B. Downeys "Tradition and Acceptance: American Catholics and the Columbian Exposition," Mid-America 63 (1981): 79-92.
Scholars interested in labor history have also found the expositions a fruitful source for material. Philip Foners "The French Trade Union Delegation to the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition, 1876," Science and Society 40 (1976): 257-87, should be read in conjunction with Dennis B. Downeys "The Congress on Labor at the 1893 Worlds Columbian Exposition," Illinois State Historical Society Journal 76 (1983): 131-38, and Jacques Rancière and Patrice Vandays "En allant à lexposition: louvrier, sa femme et les machines," Les révolter logiques 1 (1975): 5-22. The latter is an examination of the response of workers to the 1867 Paris fair. Researchers should also be aware of Utz Halterns "Die Welt als Schaustellung," cited earlier, in which he argues that fairs, especially the London 1862 and Paris 1867 exhibitions, also played an important role in fostering an international workers movement. These studies suggest the wealth of material available for historians interested in labors response--protest and accommodation--to the changing industrial patterns of the late Victorian period.
Expositions have taken a prominent place in other disciplines as well. Scholars interested in cultural institutions and the culture of consumption have started to examine fairs closely. Neil Harriss "Cultural Institutions and American Modernization," Journal of Library History 16 (1981): 28-47, should be read alongside his "Museums, Merchandising, and Popular Taste: The Struggle for Influence," in Ian M.G. Quimbys Material Culture and the Study of American Life (New York, 1978). The latter article assesses the influence of fairs on department stores and museums, while the former sheds light on a host of institutions that benefited directly and indirectly from worlds fairs. Another valuable contribution to the impact of fairs on department stores is Russell Lewiss "Everything under One Roof: Worlds Fairs and Department Stores in Paris and Chicago," Chicago History 12 (1983): 28-47. Eugene Fergusons "Technical Museums and International Exhibitions," Technology and Culture 6 (1965): 30-46, charts the impact of worlds fairs on the development of industrial museums. Robert Rydells "The Culture of Imperial Abundance: Worlds Fairs in the Making of American Culture," in Simon J. Bronners Consuming Visions: Accumulation and Display of Goods in America, 1880-1920 (New York, 1989), examines the importance of the fairs for shaping Americas consumer culture. For a useful study of the influence of a fair on the high-brow cultural institutions of one city, researchers should consult Helen L. Horowitzs Culture and the City: Cultural Philanthropy in Chicago from the 1880s to 1917 (Lexington, Ky., 1976) and Gordon Reekies "Expositions, Exhibits, and Todays Museums," Natural History 73 (June/July 1964): 20-29. In the ingenious piece "Who Invented Deweys Classification?" Wilson Library Bulletin 47 (1972): 335-41, John Maass examines one such institution--the library--and unravels the influence of the exhibit classification scheme at the Philadelphia Centennial on Melvil Deweys classification of library books. The reciprocal influence of fairs and zoological gardens has been the subject of investigation in Horowitzs "Seeing Ourselves through Bars," Landscape 25 (1981): 12-19, and R. Jeffrey Stotts "The American Idea of a Zoological Park: An Intellectual History" (Ph.D. dissertation, University of California-Santa Barbara, 1981). Although much remains to be said about the connection between European fairs and museum building, the influence of the Crystal Palace Exhibition on British museums, especially on the Victoria and Albert Museum, has been noted in the catalog produced by that museum entitled Great Exhibition of 1851 (London, 1950).
In addition to investigating cultural institutions through the use of worlds fair sources, scholars have turned to fairs to glean information about a variety of other subjects. Literary historians have taken notice of the impact of expositions on literature. For instance, Robert Brays "Robert Herrick: A Chicago Trio," The Old Northwest 1 (1975): 63-84, examines the effect of the Worlds Columbian Exposition on Herricks writings; Carl Smiths "Fearsome Fiction and the Windy City: Or, Chicago in the Dime Novel," Chicago History 7 (1978): 2-11, examines the use of the same fair by contemporary writers of dime fiction. Equally suggestive is Jean Seznecs edition of Flaubert à lexposition de 1851 (London, 1951). In light of E.L. Doctorows Worlds Fair (New York, 1985), Eduardo Mendozas La ciudad de los prodigios (Barcelona, 1986), and Erik Orsennas Lexposition coloniale (Paris, 1988), it seems reasonable to expect a comprehensive study of the fiction inspired by worlds fairs. One has only to think of the use made of expositions in works by John Steinbeck, Sinclair Lewis, and William Dean Howells, in addition to works already mentioned by Flaubert and Chernyshevsky, to appreciate the importance writers attach to the exposition movement.
Intellectual historians have noted the significance of expositions to the intellectual contours of the Western world at the turn of the century. In their aptly titled "A Neglected Landmark in the History of Ideas," Mississippi Valley Historical Review 34 (1947): 201-20, George Haines IV and Frederick H. Jackson examine the problem of the unity of knowledge that captivated the attention of intellectuals attending the Congress of Arts and Sciences at the 1904 St. Louis fair. More recently, A.W. Coatess "American Scholarship Comes of Age: The Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904," Journal of the History of Ideas 22 (1964): 404-17, and Pierre-Gerlier Forests "Montrer pour démontrer: Le congrès des arts et des sciences de lexposition universelle de Saint Louis," Relations internationales 46 (Summer 1986): 131-52, have explored the importance of the worlds congress movement for facilitating exchange between European and American scholars and for educating the American public about recent advances in the sciences and social sciences. G.P. Speeckaerts "Un siècle dExpositions Universelles. Leur influence sur les Congrès Internationaux," Bulletin N.G.O. 3, no. 10 (1951): 265-70, calls attention to the importance of fairs for developing the international congress movement. These articles are important starting points, but we still know precious little about congresses at other fairs. Indeed, the worlds congress movement as a whole merits a monograph.
Expositions have been highlighted in unsuspected places in recent scholarship. For instance, Harold T. Pinketts "Forestry Comes to America," Agricultural History 54 (1980): 4-10, examines the forestry exhibit at Chicagos 1893 fair in the course of explaining the introduction of scientific forest management to Americans. In Janet A. Northam and Jack W. Berrymans "Sport and Urban Boosterism: Seattles Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, 1909," Journal of the West 17 (1978): 53-60, the relationship between sporting events and urban promotion schemes has been carefully analyzed. Much more work, however, could be done in both fields. The idea of conservation was one of the dominant themes of the 1904 St. Louis fair and of other expositions held in the American West, while modern spectator sports, including the modern Olympic games, also received an enormous--albeit largely unrecognized--boost from a range of worlds fairs and smaller expositions.
The relationship of expositions to questions of political imagery, leadership, and organization has also intrigued scholars. Writing in Chicago History, Frank A. and Marguerite E. Cassell consider the 1893 fair as "fully as much a political and organizational triumph as it was an artistic milestone."68 H. Craig Miners "The United States Government Building at the Centennial Exhibition, 1874-1876," Prologue 4 (1972): 203-18, addresses these issues by exploring the manner in which the federal government presented itself at the Philadelphia fair. As these studies suggest, the role of fairs in developing popular images of national governments and as proving grounds for new administrative techniques merits wider attention from political historians. So does the intersection of expositions and international relations, as suggested by Brigitte Schroeder-Gudehuss "Les grandes puissances devant lexposition universelle de 1889," Le Mouvement Social no. 149 (Octobre-Decembre 1989): 17-24.
Over the past several years, scholars interested in the development of mass entertainment have turned to expositions. But, as yet, the scholarly literature on entertainment at the fairs remains in its infancy. Only Edo McCulloughs Worlds Fair Midways: An Affectionate Account of American Amusement Areas from the Crystal Palace to the Crystal Ball (New York, 1966) has surveyed the development of the midway phenomenon--named after the Midway Plaisance at Chicagos 1893 fair. But Worlds Fair Midways is a popular account, with no pretense of putting midways in the context of broader cultural currents. Rydell, in All the Worlds a Fair, emphasizes the role of American midways in popularizing the science of anthropology and in promoting stereotypical visions of nonwhites. John Kassons Amusing the Million (New York, 1978) surveys the influence of fairs on early amusement parks, and Robert Bogdans Freak Show (Chicago, 1988) documents the close relationship between sideshow displays of human oddities and the worlds fair movement. Equally important is James Gilberts Perfect Cities: Chicagos Utopias of 1893, which persuasively argues that the Midway Plaisance facilitated the rise of American mass culture in all of its contradictions. But thus far, no one has attempted a study of exhibition entertainment on the same scale as Alticks The Shows of London, which concludes with an assessment of the Crystal Palace Exhibition as a turning point in the history of popular amusements. A follow-up study that emulates Alticks attention to detail would contribute important insight into the function of the entertainment industry in modern life and help explain the cultural function of leisure in industrialized societies.
Aside from scholars interested in the history of entertainment, expositions have received some--but not nearly enough--attention from scholars interested in cultural theory. Frankfurt School critics--especially Walter Benjamin--understood the fairs as integral to the creation of the "commodity universe."69 Benjamins loosely formulated idea, presented in 1927 in "Paris, Capital of the 19th Century" and reprinted in Reflections (New York, 1979), influenced Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adornos Dialectic of Enlightenment (New York, 1972), which argues that expositions gave rise to an amusement industry that perniciously shaped values of a consumer society and blunted the critical perspectives of fair-goers. Surprisingly, given the swell of interest in culturalist studies and structuralism, there have been few sustained theoretical explorations of the exposition phenomenon. Roland Barthess The Eiffel Tower and Other Mythologies (New York, 1979) presents a powerful reading of the Eiffel Tower as a "crystallizer" of dreams, but--with the exception of Umberto Ecos account of the 1967 Montreal exposition in Travels in Hyper-Reality (New York, 1986)--little effort has been made to test structuralist theories with respect to the broader crystallizations embodied in expositions. Similarly, expositions have received insufficient attention from scholars interested in testing the validity of Antonio Gramscis theory of cultural hegemony and Michel Foucaults theory of power, though one can think of few cultural events that have left behind as much visual and printed source material that would lend itself to Gramscian and Foucaultian analyses--points underscored by Anders Ekstrom in "International Exhibitions and the Struggle for Cultural Hegemony," Uppsala Newsletter no. 12 (Fall 1989): 6-7, and Tony Bennett in "The Exhibitionary Complex," New Formations 4 (1988): 73-102. By the same token, one would be hard-pressed to think of events better suited to exploring recent theoretical advances in the visual arts, especially with respect to the ideas about seeing and believing developed by John Bergers Ways of Seeing (London, 1972) and Judith Williamsons Decoding Advertisements (London, 1979). Given the prolonged debate about the nature and worth of mass culture, it is high time we had a fuller understanding of the one form of mass culture--expositions--that undergirded so much of the rest.
The study of worlds fairs has contributed to many areas of scholarship: art and architecture, entertainment, politics, literature, womens studies, ethnic studies, and museum studies. And all these areas of scholarly investigation stand to benefit from additional work with worlds fair sources. There are also fields of scholarly inquiry that have not benefited from careful attention to exposition records. For instance, no study in business history has yet been produced that examines the influence of worlds fair bureaucracies and corporate practices on various forms of national and international commerce. Countless other subjects could be investigated as well. Yet, at the same time that attention is drawn to the value of exposition documents for a multiplicity of investigative purposes, it is important to emphasize that more research is needed into the history of expositions per se. Most scholarly attention has been devoted to the so-called great exhibitions of America, Great Britain, and France. But--and the point is worth emphasizing--the literature on the largest world-class exhibitions is incomplete and tends to be commemorative in nature. Some of the most influential fairs--including most of the Paris expositions--have not received the kind of attention to archaeological detail that they deserve. Above all, there is an acute need and golden opportunity for comparative work on exhibitions. Even if such comparative studies were limited to the great exhibitions, it would advance our understanding of the way human beings in the modern world came to see--or were encouraged to see--themselves and others.
Worlds Fair Collections in the Smithsonian Institution Libraries and Elsewhere
The two preceding sections have presented a brief historical interpretation of international expositions and a historiographical survey of exposition studies. With the historical and historiographical sides of the frame joined, this section draws attention to the Smithsonian Institution Libraries (SIL) collection proper, with a view toward examining the range of materials in the collection and toward explaining the significance of these materials. This task, however, is not merely descriptive. In the course of explaining why this exposition material is important, it is essential to explore the motivations behind the different kinds of publications. Put bluntly, it is essential to assess the trustworthiness of the published record. This section concludes with descriptions of other collections and with an overview of the manuscript holdings in the Smithsonian Archives that pertain to international fairs.
Like most worlds fair collections, the SIL collection defies easy categorization. With its nearly 1,700 books and pamphlets, it is one of the largest collections of its kind. At the same time, no one should expect the collection to contain a complete record of every single exposition publication. No complete collection exists, and none is likely to be assembled in the foreseeable future for the simple reason that the quantity of exposition literature is so vast and the variety so great that assembling such a collection could easily consume several lifetimes. The SIL collection is particularly strong for fairs held between 1851 and the First World War--precisely those years when many Smithsonian officials organized exposition exhibits and acquired displays from fairs to augment the artifactual collections of the Smithsonian museums. The scientific accomplishments of Smithsonian scientists G. Brown Goode, W.J. McGee, and Otis T. Mason are well known to specialists, but the far-reaching cultural consequences of their involvement in fairs is less widely known.70 For them, fairs were an essential--albeit frustrating--means of fulfilling the Smithsonians mission to increase and diffuse knowledge. Some of the volumes in the collection, including the materials from other U.S. government agencies, actually served as their reference library, while the chronological bounds of the remaining materials, some of which have been drawn from the late Larry Zims bequest to the Smithsonian Institution, certainly reflect the scientists interest and involvement in fairs as a means for educating the public during the Smithsonians golden age of institutional expansion.
To reiterate, the SIL collections strength is that it represents particularly well those fairs in which the Smithsonian played an active role by providing an overall classification scheme or by providing guidance for U.S. government participation. Hence, the collection is strongest in its representation of American fairs, especially the Philadelphia Centennial, the Chicago Worlds Columbian Exposition, and the St. Louis Louisiana Purchase Exposition. In the case of non-American fairs, the balance of the collection is tilted toward American reports about European exhibitions. Far from limiting the historical value of this collection, these quirks testify to the collections own integrity and to the close--at times symbiotic--relationship between the Smithsonian and certain fairs. In addition to holdings from the large American and European fairs, the collection also contains a representative sampling of literature from national, regional, and municipal exhibitions that have been altogether ignored by cultural historians. Catalogs from local industrial fairs in Boston, Bristol, Connecticut, Brooklyn, and Washington, D.C., testify to the importance of the exhibition medium in the Victorian period and give the SIL collection a measure of breadth that adds to its uniqueness. The collections weakness--the comparative absence of materials from post-World War I expositions--is evidence of the Smithsonians gradual retreat from the worlds fair business and of the parallel rise of the National Research Council and the Department of Commerce as founts of American exposition expertise over the course of the twentieth century. Still, for the period 1851-1916, the collection stands as a rich mine of information about an emergent trans-Atlantic Victorian culture. In 1989 and 1990, SIL and the Museum of American History acquired the Larry Zim and the Edward Orth collections of worlds fair artifacts and books. These collections, once accessioned, will add significantly to our knowledge of twentieth-century expositions.
The Range of Exposition Literature in the Collection
The SIL collection falls into the following categories of publications: (1) official government reports; (2) exposition management publications; (3) exhibition catalogs; (4) visitors guides; (5) commemorative publications; (6) studies, lectures, technical reports, and descriptive accounts; and (7) promotional publications. These categories are meant to be illustrative, not rigid, and are intended to serve as a guide to the collection.
Official Government Reports
The SIL collection is especially rich in official reports generated by the various national governments that sponsored or participated in particular fairs. The official reports for a particular fair, sometimes numbering many volumes, as in the case of such major expositions as the 1889 and 1900 Paris fairs, provide detailed information about the fairs origin, planning, financing, organization, attendance, and special features. Unfortunately, the reports tend to be poorly indexed. But, used in conjunction with a guidebook, catalog, or classification handbook, they are well worth wading through because of the richly detailed information they often provide about specific exhibits and exhibitors. They are remarkably introspective volumes, occasionally critical, and generally overflowing with leads that should enable researchers to trace specific items of interest throughout the tangle of available exposition sources.
A good example of a report intended to provide basic information is the series of papers that constitute the U.S. government catalog of exhibits for Londons 1883 Great International Fisheries Exhibition. Prepared by a host of experts, the report was designed to provide information about the worlds fisheries in order to foster specific political and industrial policies that would stem the rapid depletion of fish resources. The report by the U.S. commission to the exhibition exceeds 1,000 pages and provides critical scientific and economic data about the state of American fisheries at a time when U.S. fisheries represented $30 million of investment capital, generated $43 million of products, and employed 131,000 workers. This report stands as a singularly important document about an industry that deserves more attention from economic historians and historians of science. The latter would find the classification of the fisheries exhibits an important source for exploring the impact of Darwinian ideas on taxonomy.
In addition to being rich sources of information, official government reports, while not unbiased, tend to counterbalance the unabashedly propagandistic tone and content of reports issued by the directors of fairs. Reports from different government commissions, moreover, permit comparative analysis of exhibits and offer insights into the concerns of governments that were interested in obtaining information about specific fairs. Of the many governmental reports in the SIL collection, one of the more remarkable was produced by the U.S. commission appointed to study the 1873 Vienna fair. The report, written by a team of scientists, educators, and engineers, provides a detailed description of the fair and compares American and European achievements in such diverse areas as metallurgy, architecture, education, commercial fertilizers, photography, medicine, deaf-mute instruction, printing, telegraphy, and bread-making. The separate report on Vienna bread, consisting of 114 pages of detailed, scientific observations about the secret of Vienna bread, is filled with insights that would interest scholars investigating the history of food production and consumption. Noted educator E.M. Gallaudet wrote the report on deaf-mute education as well as the one on art, entitled "Governmental Patronage of Art," in which he argues passionately for increased federal support for the arts and for using the upcoming Philadelphia Centennial as a spur for purchasing works of art that would form the basis for new American art museums.71
Accounts from other expositions covered an equally wide range of subjects because, generally, a separate paper was prepared for each department of an exposition along with separate reports on areas of particular governmental concern. In addition to their comparative assessments of exhibits, the authors could also be quite critical of the work of government agents. Businessman James M. Usher, for instance, who served as a special agent from Massachusetts to the 1867 Paris exposition, berated the U.S. government for its ineffective displays. He pulled no punches. Quoting from a newspaper account that called the head of the U.S. delegation "a regular dolt" for his handling of U.S. exhibits, Usher lambasted the American commissioner for permitting the American displays to be "chiefly located in the Rue dAfrique, a name not indicative of anything American."72 Ushers report, however, was not wholly derogatory. He affixed an appendix that, in the course of lauding exhibits from Massachusetts, provides detailed information about the state of American manufacturing at the end of the Civil War.
Similar insights are buried in the reports from commissions appointed by European governments. Artisan reports on the Paris Universal Exposition of 1878, compiled by the Society of Arts, provided the British government with detailed accounts of French industries and crafts, along with assorted observations on industrial achievements and resources of other nations exhibiting their wares at the Paris exposition. As was the case with similar delegations to other fairs, commissioners traveled beyond the confines of the fairgrounds proper and reported on the state of the host nations industries. The author of the subsection of the report on mechanical engineering was singularly unimpressed by the "old fashioned machines and appliances" in one of the rolling stock mills and by the low quality of food for French workers, which seemed insufficient "to support continuous muscular exertion."73 Government reports, in short, deserve close and careful study for the variety of information they present about a range of problems. The scientists, educators, artists, businessmen, and politicians who served their governments at international fairs were astute observers whose reports belong to the tradition of travel-writing--usually associated with literary chroniclers like Charles Dickens and Mark Twain--as much as they do to the tradition of the official government document. To cite the best example from the collection, noted French economist Michel Chevalier, whose Lettres sur lAmérique du Nord (1836) appeared contemporaneously with Alexis de Tocquevilles Democracy in America, played an active role in the French exposition movement and edited the jury proceedings from the 1867 Paris exposition, Rapports du jury international (Paris, 1868).
Exposition Management Publications
Other valuable sources of information about expositions are the publications generated by exposition organizers in the form of classification schemes, building and ground plans, financial and general reports, and jury reports. Much of the SIL collection consists of such volumes, some of which, at first glance, may seem devoid of interest.
This first impression notwithstanding, the classification schemes and reports on classification may well be among the most important contributions by exposition organizers to intellectual history. They not only reflected contemporary thinking about how the universe should be perceived (along geographical, national, racial, or material lines), but also actually determined how that universe would be presented. Frequently the subject of heated argument, these taxonomies merit careful attention from scholars interested in competing epistemologies in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.74 Fortunately, the SIL collection contains a number of seminal works. In addition to reports on classification found in the publications of government-appointed delegations to the various fairs, the collection contains G. Brown Goodes Draft of a System of Classification Prepared for the Committee, which proved a useful starting point for organizers of the Worlds Columbian Exposition and for organizers of museums around the United States. Equally important for potential exhibitors were detailed classification arrangements mandated by exposition department heads--for instance, the classification schemes developed for the ethnology, manufacturing, and metallurgy departments at the Chicago fair. If only because exhibit classifications shed light on the organization of exhibits for specific fairs, these publications should be consulted by every scholar working with exposition materials.
Publications about classification should also be studied in conjunction with building and ground plans, often nestled in official catalogs and government reports, to determine the extent to which taxonomic ideals governed the location and number of exhibition buildings. Much can be gleaned from carefully studying the maps. For instance, a comparison of the official maps of the Worlds Columbian Exposition and the Louisiana Purchase Exposition yields the information that the place of the midway amusement streets shifted over time. At the Chicago fair, the Midway Plaisance formed a mile-long appendage to the main exposition grounds, the site of the White City. By 1904, at the St. Louis fair, the midway shows were incorporated into the main exposition grounds, thus suggesting an increased measure of legitimacy for mass entertainment by the turn of the century.
Documents on the financing of fairs also deserve careful scrutiny. Reports like Memorial to the Honorable the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States Presented by the Centennial Board of Finance shed light on the intricacies of funding and--in the case of American fairs--on the relative degree of private, federal, and state economic control over the organization of particular expositions. Because financial reports also contain useful summaries of the overall results of the fairs, they should not be overlooked by researchers. Most expositions generated final reports that provide a wealth of information about all aspects of a particular fair. Frequently, these reports were organized along department lines, with each section written by the appropriate department head. Not only do these reports chronicle the history of particular departments, they provide useful historical information concerning the origin, planning, and accomplishments of a given fair.
Another category of literature generated by the management of fairs is the official jury report. Exposition promoters, beginning with the Crystal Palace Exhibition, appointed distinguished international juries to evaluate the comparative worth of commercial and national exhibits. The organizers of the 1895 Atlanta exposition, for instance, selected Daniel Coit Gilman, president of Johns Hopkins University, to serve as chairman of the awards jury. Gilmans appointment was not unusual. Indeed, most exposition jury lists included eminent members of university and business communities. And jury reports, with their descriptions of exhibits and rationales for awarding medals to particular displays and products, provide scholars with an important opportunity for understanding what commercial, artistic, and scientific quality meant during the seven decades that followed the Crystal Palace.75
To provide visitors with detailed information about their displays, exhibit designers produced catalogs that listed and described objects on view. Regarded as literary equivalents of the exhibitions, these productions ranged from the extensive national catalogs produced by the government of New South Wales for the Worlds Columbian Exposition, and catalogs of state resources collected for state buildings at major American fairs, to inventories of individual items displayed by a single manufacturer or government. Exhibit organizers who produced catalogs sometimes remained content with simply listing their wares. Many exhibitors, however, went one step beyond the catalog list, or inventory, of a particular display. Some manufacturers provided information about the processes of production, about working conditions in their factories, and about their own histories. National and state exhibition committees also produced catalogs that put particular displays into a broader historical narrative. Descriptive catalogs, in short, not only listed objects in a particular display, but attributed meaning to those artifacts. As Charles Dickens perceived in his anthropomorphic parody of the official, descriptive catalog of the Crystal Palace Exhibition, the catalog became the voice of the exposition and spoke with authority:
I am a Catalogue of the Great Exhibition. You are the public.I, as a celebrated Catalogue, had much to go through ere I learnt that which I now teach in the Illustrated Edition, the Official Edition, the French Edition, the German Edition, and the Twopenny Edition. I call Myself a celebrated Catalogue and I consider myself a work of great importance. My father, the Exhibition, certainly begot in me an illustrious son.My mother, the Committee, by whom I was brought forth, has, I think, been abundantly rewarded for her pains. There would have been a visible blank in the worlds history if I had not been born.76
As Dickens was aware, the nature of the London catalogs authority derived from the process of its creation. Because that catalog served as the prototype for subsequent exhibition catalogs, the creation of the Official Descriptive and Illustrated Catalogue from the 1851 exhibition deserves some attention.
Its introduction explained that "the catalogue may be really regarded as the product of many thousands of authors--represented by exhibitors themselves." In fact, exhibitors were required to fill out forms that asked for descriptions of each object on display and for specific information about commercial and scientific names of the object, the place the object was obtained, the place from which it was exported, and the uses to which it could be put. In addition, exhibitors were asked to describe "the novelty and importance of the prepared product and the superior skill and ingenuity manifested in the process of presentation."77 They were also asked to address the objects social importance and to provide any relevant information about whether the item was patented.
Clearly, the committee that solicited this information sensed the commercial and historical relevance of this knowledge. That motivation provided the sustaining force behind the committees work, especially as it became increasingly clear that the task of gathering these descriptions would be fraught with difficulty. Needless to say, the committee responsible for soliciting this information was overburdened with forms. More precisely, as the head of the committee complained, many exhibitors "occupied in exclusively industrial pursuits were unused to literary composition."78 Furthermore, the time pressure on the exhibitors to complete their forms led to many inaccuracies. Consequently, much of the information from exhibitors had to be reconstructed. To accomplish this task, the committee turned to scientists involved with particular exposition departments and solicited their cooperation in describing the exhibits accurately. Once these reports were received, they were edited by the committee and typeset by printers. Proofs of individual entries for the catalog were then circulated for correction to the scientists and to the original exhibitors. The result was a richly detailed inventory of exhibits on display in the Crystal Palace that clearly attributed meaning to those artifacts. The catalog, in short, stands as an invaluable record of the objects on display as well as of the contemporary significance attached to them.
Another case in point is the Catalogue of Articles of the Madras Presidency and of Travancore, produced for an exhibit assembled at the Calcutta International Exhibition of 1883. The 95-page catalog began with a list of the members of the working committee in Great Britain and India who arranged the exhibit. It then listed the names of exhibitors who donated objects, along with enough cross-references to permit visitors to obtain additional information about the location of a collection in the overall scheme of the exhibition. The table of contents provided a listing of exhibits that reflected the classification of objects into such broad subject headings as "Fine Arts, Education and Application of Liberal Arts, Furniture and Other Objects for the Use or Decoration of Dwelling Houses, Fabrics, Machinery and Implements, and Ethnology." Each section of the catalog introduced visitors to the objects on display with a short descriptive narrative. For instance, the catalog informed visitors that Hindu art reached its ascendancy between the second and seventh centuries A.D. and that "since that time these works were produced it does not appear that any advance has taken place in pictorial art in Southern India. On the contrary, there has been a decadence except in quite recent years, when attempts have been made, under European influence, to disseminate some knowledge of the principles and practice of modern art."79 This catalog, like countless others in the SIL collection, provided an interpretation to assist visitors in making sense of the hundreds of exhibits on display.
The same preoccupation with ordering exhibits and with interpreting the content of displays characterized most of the exhibition catalogs, regardless of subject matter. It is apparent, for instance, in the descriptive catalog for the Womans Libraries at the 1895 Atlanta exposition, in the catalog of the exhibits of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company assembled for Chicagos 1893 fair, and in the catalog of the Japanese exhibits at the 1876 Philadelphia exhibition. This pattern is also evident in catalogs produced to complement exhibits that were intended to promote particular states and territories--for instance, the handbooks assembled for the exhibits from Montana and Alaska at the 1904 St. Louis fair. The drive by exposition designers to organize fair-goers experience also characterized the catalogs for the Chinese exhibits, the Japanese geological survey, and the Argentine forestry exhibits at the St. Louis fair. Separate catalogs were issued for ethnological, artistic, and educational displays at many fairs. The catalog for the Kansas educational exhibit at the Worlds Columbian Exposition, for example, offered exposition visitors "in the most concise form, the essential facts in our educational history; important dates and statistics; brief biographies; the rise and progress of the University and colleges, public and private; the beginning and development of teachers associations and institutes; and a synopsis of the Kansas public school system."80 These catalogs were not just digests of information, but encyclopedias of human achievement that stand as lasting reminders of the power that comes from representing others through displays of objects and people.
Guidebooks constituted one of the mainstays of all expositions. They were deemed essential for directing visitors through the maze of exhibits and were intended to provide fair-goers with concise digests of helpful information. Many guidebooks, like the Official Guide to the Worlds Columbian Exposition, offered descriptions of host exposition cities and included such information as locations of restaurants, hotels, and transportation services. In addition, they usually provided visitors with a concise history of a particular exposition, along with a statement of how the fair was organized and financed. Frequently, short biographical sketches of the exposition directors--generally prominent local and regional civic leaders--were included. Guidebooks, in short, were intended as authoritative statements about much more than the fair per se. They were intended to boost the community that hosted the fair by encouraging visitors to spend money at local businesses and--in the case of many smaller American and colonial fairs--to encourage fair-goers to contemplate becoming permanent residents of these communities.
Most fundamentally, of course, guidebooks were intended to provide fair-goers with enough information about the fairs to enable them to sense their own mastery of the thousands of exhibits. These colorfully written and illustrated volumes, in short, were meant to guide visitors while, at the same time, allowing them to guide themselves by relying on maps and descriptions of exhibits. Unfortunately for visitors--and later historians--guidebooks could be notoriously unreliable about changes in the content of specific exhibits or--in the case of midway shows--about the wholesale elimination of actual concessions that went bankrupt and were replaced by others. By the turn of the century, this problem was mitigated when exhibition management began publishing new editions and printing daily and weekly programs that listed new exhibits or changes in old ones. Nevertheless, researchers should use guidebooks cautiously. The notorious "official" guidebook simply meant that one publisher secured the concession to publish a guide under the auspices of the exposition management. But in the case of the larger worlds fairs, it was commonplace for enterprising individuals to publish competing guides that sometimes reached the status of self-parody in the form of such humorous publications as Thomas Flemings Around the "Pan" with Uncle Hank: His Trip through the Pan-American Exposition (New York, 1901).
Guidebooks should be used judiciously for another reason. Though they presented information about specific displays, they highlighted particular exhibits at the expense of others. A guidebook, in other words, was not intended to be a catalog list and should not be confused with the detailed inventories of the latter. Even so, used sensitively and in conjunction with catalogs, guidebooks are among the best starting points for finding out about specific fairs and their exhibits.
Closely related to, but distinct from, official management publications were publications intended to commemorate fairs. Commemorative publications included official histories, sometimes commissioned by the management of an exposition, souvenir collections of photographic views, and reminiscences of fair-goers.
The SIL collection contains many of the official histories published for American fairs. In particular, it includes Hubert Howe Bancrofts two-volume history of the Worlds Columbian Exposition entitled The Book of the Fair, Rossiter Johnsons four-volume History of the Worlds Columbian Exposition (New York, 1898), J.W. Buels ten-volume Louisiana and the Fair (St. Louis, 1904), and James D. McCabes The Illustrated History of the Centennial Exhibition (Philadelphia, 1876). Although the collection is not particularly strong in its representation of official histories of non-American fairs, it contains a very good sampling of contemporary historical information about the major American expositions held between the middle of the nineteenth century and the First World War.
With respect to collections of illustrations, it is important to note that virtually every exposition publication included line drawings, lithographs, or photographs. By the 1890s, souvenir albums of photographs and chromolithographs became commonplace and available on a subscription basis to individuals who could not actually travel to a distant exposition city. Importantly, these illustrated volumes included not only representations of exposition buildings and overviews of the fairs, but representations of particular exhibits as well. Virtually every catalog produced for an exhibition contained detailed drawings of various machines and scientific instruments, while later souvenir albums, like The Magic City, were given over to annotated illustrations of Ferris wheels, art exhibits, ethnological villages, and major agricultural and industrial displays. The souvenir photo albums serve as important social documents as well, especially in their portrayal of exposition crowds where individuals blur into masses. Equally revealing are photographs that record the quality of clothing worn by exposition-goers. Dressed in their Sunday best, men, women, and children attended nineteenth-century fairs with a show of reverence for the cathedral-like buildings that dwarfed them. Exposition illustrations, in short, are valuable not only for identifying objects, but for examining broader cultural changes as well.
Another class of commemorative literature also merits scholarly attention. The literature of reminiscence, however nostalgic in tone and perspective, nonetheless testifies to the lasting impact of fairs on visitors and opens windows on what at least a few fair-goers carried away with them. Although this genre is underrepresented in the SIL collection, a work like Edgar Trouts The Story of the Centennial of 1876 (published in 1929 by the Centennial Alumni Association!) points the way to similar retrospective works by fair-goers--for instance, R.L. Duffuss The Tower of Jewels: Memories of San Francisco (New York, 1960).
Studies, Lectures, Technical Reports, and Descriptive Accounts
Organizers of Victorian-era expositions regarded their fairs as educational by definition and saw themselves as popular educators. They took themselves seriously when they termed expositions "universities for the masses." Judging from the number of cultural and scientific reports that were generated independently of government commissions, many exhibitors and fair-goers shared the perception that they were involved in an experience that was fundamentally didactic.
Precisely because of their emphasis on the educational worth of their enterprises, fair managers placed a special premium on bona fide educational exhibits and on drawing teachers and pupils to the expositions. Exposition publicity departments worked closely with educators to produce educational materials that could be used by school teachers in classroom instruction and sold to fair-goers interested in reaping the most from their time spent at an exposition. The directors of the Chicago 1893 fair, for instance, encouraged production of a serial publication entitled Worlds Fair Studies, with each issue devoted to a separate subject--for instance, "Greek Columns at the Fair" or "State Buildings--Colonial." They also supported an adult-education course organized around various exhibits. A decade later, the directors of the St. Louis fair supported University of Chicago anthropologist Frederick Starrs plans to organize a university course for college credit around the anthropology exhibits at the 1904 fair--a course that revolved around living ethnological exhibits and incorporated the descriptive literature about the Filipinos, Ainus, and other peoples put on display. The creation of such courses certainly reinforced the cultural authority of the fairs and added to the didacticism of so much of the exposition literature.
In the course of presenting their creations as educational undertakings, fair managers further augmented their authority by displaying the accomplishments of a variety of educational institutions from around the globe. Included in the SIL collection are histories of particular universities that organized displays for fairs (for instance, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology), as well as descriptions of numerous foreign educational systems (for instance, the sketch of the history of higher education in Belgium and the books and pamphlets on the German educational system produced for educational exhibits at the St. Louis fair). Such exhibits and publications not only reinforced the image of fairs as educational undertakings but also afforded fair-goers the opportunity to compare different regional and national systems of education. Assessing the impact of these displays on educational reform in America and Europe would be a fascinating study, and the SIL collection provides an important nucleus of material for starting such a project.
In addition to spurring literature about education, expositions provided occasions for the presentation and publication of new scholarly research findings. The SIL collection contains a representative selection of scholarly papers presented as part of international congresses that were organized by various professional societies. Included in this genre are reports from the Congrès International de Médicine Légale, the program from the Congrès International Colonial at the 1897 Brussels exposition, the report from the Worlds Congress Auxiliary at the Worlds Columbian Exposition, and the published proceedings from the International Congress of Arts and Science at the 1904 St. Louis fair.
For many intellectuals in Europe and America, attending fairs and actually participating in them became commonplace. Smithsonian ichthyologist G. Brown Goode was not alone among scholars who contributed to the intellectual scaffolding of the expositions. Many renowned scholars arranged exhibits. Among anthropologists, for instance, it would have been the exceptional ethnologist who did not participate in a fair around the turn of the century. And anthropologists were hardly unique. Historian Frederick Jackson Turner read his famous paper on the importance of the frontier in American history at a meeting of the American Historical Association held in conjunction with the Worlds Columbian Exposition, and historian Charles Beard collaborated with the promoters of the 1933 Chicago exposition in editing his volume of essays that took its title--The Century of Progress--from the name of the fair. Sociologists and philosophers like Max Weber and Hugo Münsterberg made their presence felt at the 1904 St. Louis fair, while equally renowned engineers and scientists organized professional meetings or exhibits for expositions.81
The depth and breadth of the educational thrust of expositions is also apparent in the many governmental reports that contained information intended for a professional as well as a lay audience. For instance, the Imperial Geological Survey of Japan with a Catalogue of Articles Exhibited by the Geological Survey at the Worlds Columbian Exposition (Tokyo, 1893) and the Catalogue of a Stratigraphical Collection of Canadian Rocks Prepared for the Worlds Columbian Exposition (Ottawa, 1893) were written with both a scholarly and a lay audience in mind, as were the intricate descriptions of exhibit classifications. The Proposed Classification of the Section of Anthropology and Prehistoric Archaeology at the Chicago Exposition (Washington, D.C., ca. 1892) is another example of such a description written for a dual audience. Particular reports on engineering and scientific developments in foreign countries--frequently written by eminent scholars like William Phipps Blake, a mining engineer and commissioner to the 1867 Paris fair and the 1873 Vienna exposition--were written to keep American scholars abreast of developments in foreign countries. Comparative in nature, these reports provide fascinating insights into the social history of invention and discovery that should interest historians of engineering, science, and art.
International expositions generated an outpouring of promotional materials. These ranged from straightforward announcements and posters to advertising inserts in railroad timetables, newspaper stories, and fictional accounts of fair-goers experiences at the expositions. The relationship between international exhibitions and the emergence of modern advertising has never been closely studied, but departments of publicity--often called departments of exploitation--merit careful investigation by scholars interested in the development of saturation advertising techniques.
The SIL collection contains relatively little of this promotional material. After Four Centuries: The Discovery of America to Be Commemorated by an International Exposition at Chicago (Chicago, 1891), published in six languages by the Chicago fairs department of publicity and promotion, hints at the range of publications and promotional activities that this exposition bureau sponsored. Similarly, Tudor Jenkss Century Worlds Fair Book for Boys and Girls (New York, 1893) points to a class of childrens literature that underscored the didactic worth of the expositions. The collection permits only a glimpse of the humorous promotional accounts that parodied the expositions. Around the "Pan" with Uncle Hank was part and parcel of a promotional genre that included volumes of Punch and Puck cartoons and short stories. Cookbooks, like the Home Queen Cook Book (Chicago, 1898), evidenced changing culinary tastes, while the advertisements for ethnic restaurants testified to the growing popularity of ethnic foods. The link between restaurant concessions along the midways and the fast-food phenomenon has yet to be investigated, but would prove fascinating. Another gap in the SIL collection concerns a category of materials that can best be termed "exposition ephemera." Posters, circulars, tickets, postcards, and artifactual souvenirs were intended to promote entire fairs as well as particular exhibits and concessions. They too form an important piece of the historical record and should be consulted for information about particular exhibits and buildings when information is lacking in the official published sources.
Description of Other Major Collections
The SIL collection is one of several collections of published international exposition documents. Other notable collections include the Robert A. Feer Collection at the Boston Public Library, which concentrates on North American fairs, and the more extensive representation of American and non-American fairs in the expositions and fairs collection in the Department of Special Collections at California State University-Fresno. Other important depositories of worlds fair publications include the Library of Congress, the New York Public Library, the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, the Widener Library at Harvard, the Sterling Library at Yale, the American Philosophical Society, and the Main Library at the University of California-Berkeley. There are smaller collections of published exposition materials in university libraries, museum libraries, and historical societies. In Europe and Great Britain, published exposition literature can be found concentrated in national libraries, though most of the exposition volumes in the British Library were either destroyed in the Second World War or misplaced in its aftermath. Fortunately, some of the volumes that pertained to British expositions are duplicated in the library of the University of Londons Senate House and in the extensive collection in the library of the Royal Society of Arts. Another important collection of printed sources from a variety of international fairs is held by the Bureau of International Expositions in Paris, but these volumes are available only for consultation at the bureau. Finally, researchers should be aware that the Center for Research Libraries in Illinois contains a few volumes that are available through interlibrary loan.
In addition to depositories that contain materials from a variety of fairs, there are a number of libraries with extensive collections of publications from one fair--usually an exposition held in the immediate vicinity. Any researcher would be well advised to contact public, university, and museum libraries in the city that hosted a given fair. In the United States, local and state historical societies usually have large collections of printed exposition materials from local and regional fairs or from local committees that assembled exhibits for fairs in other regions. Because European fairs were generally organized by governments and held in capital cities, published volumes from European expositions tend to be concentrated in national libraries or national museums. But there are exceptions. Most of the publications occasioned by the Wembley exposition, for instance, are concentrated in the Grange Museum in northwest London.
Published sources make up a valuable, if underutilized, record of human achievements and values. Encyclopedic catalogs and reports, together with unabashedly propagandistic guidebooks and histories, should be of inestimable value to researchers seeking to identify objects, assess changing cultural trends, and understand the power of representing human beings and their values through exhibits. The literature of fairs, moreover, permits a careful study of the processes of cultural production and transmission. The published record not only puts on view the objects exhibited, but introduces the human beings responsible for making specific decisions about what to display and why. What the London Times wrote of the official catalog of the 1851 Crystal Palace Exhibition can be extended to the published record of exhibitions generally: these sources stand as the literary equivalents of the exhibitions themselves. And it is precisely this quality that signals the need for a measure of caution when using the published record.
It comes as no news to historians that published accounts by participants in historical events should be verified in unpublished records whenever possible. The published exposition record is no exception. Published sources generally present the public face of a highly complex and intense set of human and institutional dynamics that had a private side as well, which can be more fully understood through archival research into the internal documents of expositions and into the records of contributors to fairs. It is one thing to read William P. Blakes published reports concerning the Vienna and Philadelphia exhibitions; it is another to read his personal diary with references to exhibit construction and accounts of executive planning sessions for these fairs.82 Precisely because many of these unpublished records survive, the study of expositions permits the kind of "thick description" that anthropologists urge historians to employ.
If the quantity of published exposition materials is impressive, published sources are only the summit of a mountain of sources generated by fairs. To the delight and chagrin of archivists around the world, expositions left thousands of feet of correspondence, memoranda, and blueprints. Indeed, international exhibitions must rank as among the best documented historical events. The problem is that much of this material was deposited in an unprocessed state, and scholarly interest has been sufficiently slack to justify the neglect of these sources. Two extreme examples underscore the problem. During the New Deal, the Works Progress Administration provided funds for a comprehensive inventory of the official records of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. This inventory stands as one of the most thorough ever attempted of any exposition collection. Unfortunately, possessing the inventory apparently facilitated the disposal of a group of legal and concessionaires records when these documents were transferred from storage under the university track stadium to newly acquired warehouse facilities. At least the inventory is intact, along with most of the documentary records from the exposition corporation. An equally extreme example is the fate of the records from the expositions held in Liège, Belgium. Currently housed in the Liège city archives, they constitute what can only be described as a papier-maché mound that would fill a full-size American garage. Layered with carbon dust, these records are on the verge of disintegration. The state of exposition records at other archives is not necessarily much better: the records from the 1939-40 New York Worlds Fair, for example, only recently have been removed from their original file cabinets in the New York Public Library. Exposition records on deposit in government archives around the globe are in an equally precarious state. For the most part, they have not been put in acid-free folders or boxes and are probably doomed to irreversible deterioration unless immediate steps are taken to change this situation.
The expositions that generated these records are such recent phenomena that it is impossible to understand their full value as historical documents. Suffice it to say, the manuscripts not only supplement the published record manyfold, but they also provide an important check on its bias. Unpublished exposition records fall into three categories: (1) records from exposition organizations; (2) records from government commissions; and (3) personal papers.
Extensive records survive from exposition organizers, though they are more easily accessible in the United States, where fairs were organized as separate corporations, than in Europe, where fairs were often set up under the auspices of government agencies. What this corporate form meant was that records were kept together, usually in order to resolve legal disputes, and then deposited in a library as a separate and distinct unit. In Europe, on the other hand, where expositions were organized as national affairs by national governments, an expositions records were often dispersed among the government agencies that played a role in overseeing the fair. Despite this difference, certain generalizations about these records are possible. Minute books and correspondence between exposition directors make it possible to document the sometimes conflicting goals and intentions of various exposition organizers, and ledger books permit historians to penetrate the complex tangle of exposition finances. Particularly valuable are minutes and correspondence from various division heads detailing the potential and actual concerns of exhibitors. Because it was the rare industrialist who failed to send a detailed prospectus of an exhibit to exposition promoters, these documents augment the historical record of industrial development, especially where the records from a particular industry have not otherwise survived. Equally important are the records from concessionaires. The history of mass entertainment has not been written, but when it is, these records will be essential for penetrating the anonymity of so many turn-of-the-century amusement magnates. Drawers of manuscript material also exist for other departments at worlds fairs. Departments of mining, art, agriculture, and machine technology, not to mention departments devoted to the architecture, engineering, and landscaping of fairs, all constituted separate offices within the overall bureaucracy of a given fair. Their records give researchers the opportunity to verify printed accounts of particular objects and, in many cases, permit researchers to determine whether particular exhibits were sold, returned to exhibitors, or donated to museums.
Government archives also contain layers of exposition manuscripts that detail the involvement of government agencies in particular fairs. Where the United States was concerned, every agency represented at the cabinet level usually contributed exhibits to fairs in which the federal government participated. Treasury Department, State Department, and War Department records testify to the extensive participation of federal officials in fairs. Along with the Smithsonian Institution (see discussion below), these agencies left a paper trail that permits a thorough reconstruction of their activities in fairs. Records in European and British public archives, where they survived wartime destruction, are equally revealing and should be consulted as supplements to exposition accounts.
Exposition operations can also be explored through records left by exhibitors in state and local historical societies. At American international fairs, many states had separate buildings and exhibits organized by committees of prominent citizens. The records that survive--for instance, from the Montana exhibits organized for the 1893 and 1904 fairs--present fascinating sources for studying the organization of culture on local and state levels. Whether comparable records are extant for European fairs is doubtful given the destruction wrought by two world wars, but if they exist, they could prove to be important sources for understanding the relationship between nationalism and regionalism in a European setting.
Apart from these records, there are extensive accounts from individual fair-goers and exposition organizers that exist in national, state, and local archives. The papers of Henry Cole--the most important organizer of the Crystal Palace Exhibition and a man who developed an international reputation as the worlds foremost exposition expert--survive at the Victoria and Albert Museum. The scrapbooks compiled by Americas foremost worlds fair authority at the turn of the century, Frederick James Volney Skiff, have been preserved by the Colorado Historical Society and offer important information about the multiplicity of fairs that Skiff helped organize. In addition to personal scrapbooks, there are postcard collections (especially at California State University--Fresno) and diaries and letters kept by fair-goers. Equally important are the manuscripts from scientists, businessmen, literary figures, philosophers, suffragists, and politicians who recorded their experiences at fairs. These manuscript holdings, housed in the Library of Congress and in university and historical society archives around the country, provide another plane of documentary evidence that cuts across the multilayered strata of the exposition record.
The value of these records as supplements to published sources is best illustrated by the manuscript record of the Smithsonian Institutions involvement in worlds fairs. Arranged in a distinct record unit in the Smithsonian archives are the letters, memoranda, letterpress books, and activity reports that detail the joys and frustrations experienced by Smithsonian chiefs and subordinates over the forty-year heyday of the institutions involvement in fairs. Like the published volumes in the SIL collection, the balance of the manuscript record reflects Smithsonian involvement in fairs and thus leans heavily toward American fairs, although important records exist for the Berlin and London fisheries expositions and for the 1892 Madrid Historical Exposition. The inventoried collection, with information about the Smithsonian Institutions involvement in more than twenty international fairs, consists of a range of documents not at all untypical of other manuscript collections of exposition materials. Woven throughout the collection are applications for positions, lists and descriptions of objects proposed for exhibits, correspondence detailing exhibition procedures and disputes, payroll vouchers, shipping information, newspaper clippings, letterpress volumes of official correspondence, personal letters, lists of motion pictures made for government exhibits at fairs, and photographs taken of particular exhibits and exhibit buildings. Cumbersome guest registration books from government exhibits might provide an opportunity for constructing demographic profiles of the crowds who pondered a model of the latest government warship, gazed at wax Indians, or hummed the newest exposition song. By presenting unusual possibilities for verifying the published record and for probing behind the scenes of the expositions, manuscript sources, together with the published record, make it possible to envision a histoire totale of international fairs that would be no small contribution to our understanding of the historical development of the modern world.
Given the Smithsonian Institutions symbiotic relationship with international exhibitions, it is appropriate that SIL is encouraging the scholarly investigation of fairs by making its collection of published works more widely accessible. Indeed, the SIL collection of the literature of international expositions provides scholars with an unsurpassed opportunity to unshutter one of the most significant cultural influences on the modern world. As more and more historians and anthropologists are discovering, Henry Adams was right to note the existence of a "religion of worlds fairs" at the turn of the century. Fairs ringed the world and framed the way millions--several hundred million, in fact--saw the world. Powerhouses of technology, science, and art, these fairs were temples of ideas and values. They integrated "thing" and "thought" into a coherent narrative about the meaning of progress. Not to understand these fairs more fully is to risk misunderstanding the world they did so much to shape. To be sure, the SIL collection permits scholarly investigation of any number of subjects, ranging from food processing, architecture, art history, mining, and agriculture to prison reform, ornithology, and photography. Indeed, the collection offers insights into virtually every area of human knowledge and imagination represented at the fairs. But the value of the collection is far greater than this. The collection serves as a constant reminder that individual objects and collective exhibits were displayed in particular contexts and with particular relations to other objects on display. Where the history of fairs is concerned, the SIL collection similarly underscores the need for comparative studies. If the collection opens vistas, provides leads, and generally stimulates research into what one scholar calls "the mists where the history of ideas, culture, and institutions intersect,"83 this book, by calling attention to the books of the fairs, will have accomplished its primary goal.
This study would not have been possible without the cooperation and enthusiasm of a group of dedicated professionals at the Smithsonian Institution Libraries. Nancy Gwinn, assistant director for collections management, first proposed this project. Margaret Child and Nancy Matthews, historians in their own right, contributed their valuable insights to the projects development. Rhoda Ratner and Stephen Van Dyk supplied essential bibliographic information. And Michael Tkacz assiduously compiled an annotated bibliography of the Smithsonian Libraries collections and a checklist of international expositions. Finally, the author wishes to thank Burton Benedict, Ronald Mahoney, and Brigitte Schroeder-Gudehus for sharing their knowledge of worlds fair literature, David Hollinger for his support, Kay Carey and Jonathan McLeod for their contributions, and Kiki Leigh Rydell for her assistance with translations.
1Attendance figures are from John Allwood, The Great Exhibitions (London, 1977), 180-85. They should be compared with the figures in John E. Findling and Kimberly D. Pelle, eds., Historical Dictionary of Worlds Fairs and Expositions, 1851-1988 (Westport, Conn., 1990), 376-81.
2Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams (1907; Boston, 1961), 465. The connection between fairs and religion is also emphasized by Burton Benedict, The Anthropology of Worlds Fairs (London, 1983), 5-6.
3H.W. Waters, A History of Fairs and Expositions (London, 1939), 5.
4Adams, The Education of Henry Adams, 379-90.
5See, for instance, "The Worlds Columbian Exposition," Worlds Columbian Exposition Illustrated 1 (February 1891): 2.
6Benedict, The Anthropology of Worlds Fairs, 5-6.
7Kenneth E. Carpenter, "European Industrial Exhibitions before 1851 and Their Publications," Technology and Culture 13 (1972): 465-86.
8Toshio Kusamitsu, "Great Exhibitions before 1851," History Workshop no. 9 (Spring 1980): 70-89.
9Richard Altick, The Shows of London (Cambridge, 1978), 455-69.
10Albert to Baron von Stockmar, 30 March 1848, in Letters of the Prince Consort, 1831-1861, ed. Kurt Jagow (London, 1938), 141.
11Albert to Frederick William IV, 14 April 1851, in Letters of the Prince Consort, 1831-1861, 176. On the Victorian mixture of confidence and anxiety, see Walter E. Houghton, The Victorian Frame of Mind (New Haven, 1957). I am also indebted to the insights of Daniel Walker Howe. See especially his Victorian America (Philadelphia, 1976).
12"May Day Ode," London Times, 1 May 1851.
13Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations. Official Descriptive and Illustrated Catalogue, vol. 1 (London, 1851), 29-30, 109-12.
14Utz Haltern, Die Londoner Weltaustellung von 1851: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der bürgerlich-industriellen Gesellschaft im 19. Jahrhundert (Münster, 1971); Marcus Cunliffe, "America at the Great Exhibition of 1851," American Quarterly 3 (1951): 115-26.
15Dostoyevsky and Carlyle quoted in Thomas Parke Hughes, "Industry through the Crystal Palace: A Study of the Great Exhibition Held in London, 1851" (Ph.D. diss., University of Virginia, 1953), 181-83.
16Altick, The Shows of London, 498-503.
17Lectures on the Results of the Great Exhibition of 1851 (London, 1852), 34.
18Chernyshevsky quoted in Hughes, "Industry through the Crystal Palace," 183.
19For precise information about the names and locations of these expositions, consult the partial list in the appendix to this volume.
20William Schneider, "Race and Empire: The Rise of Popular Ethnography in the Late Nineteenth Century," Journal of Popular Culture 11 (1977): 78-109; Robert W. Rydell, All the Worlds a Fair: Visions of Empire at American International Expositions, 1876-1916 (Chicago, 1984).
21See, for instance, John MacKenzie, Propaganda and Empire: The Manipulation of British Public Opinion, 1880-1960 (Manchester, 1984), chap. 4; Thomas G. August, "Colonial Policy and Propaganda: The Popularization of the Idée Coloniale in France, 1919-1939" (Ph.D. diss., University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1978); Ileen Montijn, Kermis van Koophandel. De Amsterdamse Wereldtentoonstelling van 1883 (Bussum, 1983).
22Allwood, The Great Exhibitions, passim. On the importance of the new visual age, see G. Brown Goode, "The Museums of the Future," in Annual Reports of the United States National Museum: Year Ending June 30, 1897 (Washington, D.C., 1898).
23Neil Harris, Humbug: The Art of P.T. Barnum (Chicago, 1973), 147-48.
24John Maass, The Glorious Enterprise (Watkins Glen, N.Y., 1973), 28.
25Philip D. Spiess II, "Exhibitions and Expositions in 19th-Century Cincinnati," Cincinnati Historical Society Bulletin, 28 (1970): 171-92.
26Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger, eds., The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge, 1983).
27Charles Rearick, "Celebrating History: Centennials American-Style and à la Française," Soundings 59 (1976): 413-25.
28Benedict, The Anthropology of Worlds Fairs, 24-25.
29For a contrary argument, see John A. Kouwenhoven, "The Eiffel Tower and the Ferris Wheel," in his Half a Truth Is Better Than None (Chicago, 1982), 107-24.
30Alan Trachtenberg, The Incorporation of America (New York, 1982), 208-34.
31Richard Drinnon, Facing West: The Metaphysics of Indian Hating (New York, 1980), 333-51; Rydell, All the Worlds a Fair, chap. 6. An example of a classification based on the idea of racial advance was the exhibit arrangement at the Philadelphia Centennial. One of the exposition managers described the exhibition scheme in no uncertain terms: it was "an installation by races." See Dorsey Gardner, ed., United States Centennial Commission: International Exhibition, 1876, Grounds and Buildings of the Centennial Exhibition, Philadelphia, 1876 (Philadelphia, 1878), 51-52.
32Benedict, The Anthropology of Worlds Fairs, 49-52; Rydell, All the Worlds a Fair, chap. 2.
33George Haines IV and Frederick H. Jackson, "A Neglected Landmark in the History of Ideas," Mississippi Valley Historical Review 34 (1947): 201-20; G.P. Speeckaert, "Un siècle dExpositions Universelles. Leur influence sur les Congrès Internationaux," Bulletin N.G.O. 3, no. 10 (1951): 265-70.
34Philip Foner, "The French Trade Union Delegation to the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition, 1876," Science and Society 40 (1976): 257-87.
35R.W. Morrish, A History of Fairs (n.p., 1929), 4.
36Charles Piat, Les expositions internationales relevant du Bureau International des Expositions (Paris, 1983).
37James B. Haynes, History of the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition of 1898 (Omaha, 1910), 347.
38William Appleman Williams, Empire as a Way of Life (New York, 1980), 7. See also Paul Greenhalgh, Ephemeral Vistas: The Expositions Universelles, Great Exhibitions and Worlds Fairs, 1851-1939 (Manchester, 1988), esp. 52-81.
39Benedict, The Anthropology of Worlds Fairs, 46; and his "The Representation of Colonial Peoples in International Exhibitions" (unpublished paper, 1986; cited with authors permission).
40William Schneider, "Colonies at the 1900 World Fair," History Today 31 (1981), 31-36.
41Chronologies of fairs are derived from the list in the Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 158, Box 61, Folder 18. On Canadian representation at worlds fairs, see Dianne Newell, "Canada at Worlds Fairs," Canadian Collector 11 (1976): 11-15.
42Ducarré [pseud.], Mission à lexposition de Hanoi (n.p., 1903) is the best account of the Hanoi fair; René Poirer, Des foires, des peuples, des expositions (Paris, 1958), 150-53, briefly mentions other colonial fairs.
43Documentos officiales relativos a Exposição Nacional, 1861 (Rio de Janeiro, 1862).
44Michael R. Godley, "Chinas Worlds Fair of 1910: Lessons from a Forgotten Event," Modern Asian Studies 12 (1978), 503-22.
45Neil Harris, "All the World a Melting Pot? Japan at American Fairs, 1876-1904," in Mutual Images: Essays in American Japanese Relations, ed. Akira Iriye (Cambridge, Mass., 1975), 24-54.
46J.W. Buel, ed., Louisiana and the Fair: An Exposition of the World, Its People, and Their Achievements, vol. 4 (St. Louis, 1904), 1280; Chicago Commerce 16 (April 1909): 5-11, 28-34.
47Marvin Harris, The Rise of Anthropological Theory (New York, 1968), 80-107, provides a good introduction to the interpenetration of scientific ideas about racial determinism and ideas about progress.
48Walford, quoted in H.W. Waters, A History of Fairs and Expositions (London, 1939), foreword.
49Official histories are discussed in detail on pages 17-18.
50McKinley quoted in "President McKinley Favors Reciprocity," New York Times, 6 September 1901.
51Kenneth Luckhurst, The Story of Exhibitions (London, 1951), 56.
52Merle Curti, "America at the Worlds Fairs, 1851-1893," American Historical Review 55 (1950): 833.
53Werner von Plum, World Exhibitions in the Nineteenth Century: Pageants of Social and Cultural Change (Bonn-Bad Godesberg, 1977), 13.
54Buel, Louisiana and the Fair, vol. 9, i-xii.
55A good introduction to literature on this subject from an American perspective is James Henretta, "Families and Farms: Mentalité in Pre-Industrial America," William and Mary Quarterly, series 3, 35 (1978): 3-32.
56Asa Briggs, Victorian People (Chicago, 1955), 50.
57E.P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class (New York, 1963); Raymond Williams, Culture and Society (New York, 1958).
58John M. Mackenzie, Propaganda and Empire: The Manipulation of British Public Opinion, 1880-1960 (Manchester, 1984), 97.
59David F. Burg, Chicagos White City of 1893 (Lexington, Ky., 1976), 348.
60Rodney Reid Badger, The Great American Fair: The Worlds Columbian Exposition and American Culture (Chicago, 1979), 123.
61Trachtenberg, The Incorporation of America, 231.
62Ivan D. Steen, "Americas First Worlds Fair," New-York Historical Society Quarterly 47 (January 1963): 257.
63C. Vann Woodward, Origins of the New South (Baton Rouge, 1951), 1.
64Richard Mandell, Paris 1900: The Great Worlds Fair (Toronto, 1967), 120.
65Frances K. Pohl, "Historical Reality or Utopian Ideal? The Womans Building at the Worlds Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893," International Journal of Womens Studies 5 (1982): 306.
66Louis H. Sullivan, The Autobiography of an Idea (New York, 1926), 305.
67See page 11.
68Frank A. Cassell and Marguerite E. Cassell, "The White City in Peril: Leadership and the Worlds Columbian Exposition," Chicago History 12 (1983): 27.
69Walter Benjamin, Reflections (New York, 1979), 151-56.
70Curtis Hinsley, Savages and Scientists: The Smithsonian Institution and the Development of American Anthropology, 1846-1910 (Washington, D.C., 1981); Michael James Lacey, "The Mysteries of Earth-Making Dissolve: A Study of Washingtons Intellectual Community and the Origins of American Environmentalism in the Late Nineteenth Century" (Ph.D. diss., George Washington University, 1979).
71Reports of the Commissioners of the United States to the International Exhibition Held at Vienna, 1873 (Washington, D.C., 1876), 5-15.
72James M. Usher, Paris, Universal Exposition, 1867 (Boston, 1868), 11, 13.
73The Society of Arts. Artisans Reports on the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1878 (London, 1879), 291-92.
74Benedict, The Anthropology of Worlds Fairs, 27-40.
75For a perspective discussion of the function of worlds fair juries, see Evelyn Kroker, Die Weltausstellungen im 19. Jahrhundert (Göttingen, 1975), 202.
76Dickens quoted from Official Descriptive and Illustrated Catalogue of the Great Exhibition, vol. 1 (London, 1851), supplement p. 5.
79Catalogue of Articles of the Madras Presidency and of Travancore Collected and Forwarded to the Calcutta International Exhibition of 1883 by the Madras and Travancore Committees (Madras, 1883), ix-x, 1.
80Columbian History of Education in Kansas (Topeka, 1893), preface.
81A.W. Coates, "American Scholarship Comes of Age: The Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904," Journal of the History of Ideas 22 (1964): 404-17.
82The William P. Blake diaries are in the collections of the Arizona Historical Society. He contributed exhibits and gave direction to numerous fairs in the late nineteenth century. See, for example, Reports of the Commissioners of the United States to the International Exhibition Held at Vienna, 1873. To my knowledge, there is no biography of Blake.
83Attesting to the growing interest in the relationship between institutions and the history of ideas and culture is Daniel Kevless "Genetics in the United States and Great Britain, 1890-1930: A Review with Speculations," in Biology, Medicine and Society, 1840-1940, ed. Charles Webster (Cambridge, 1981), 215.