Bibliography for Selected Documents for
Study of the World’s Fairs of 1876, 1893, 1901 and 1904

his collection of documents can help students understand the cultural impact and significance of the World’s Fairs by setting the Fairs’ historical background and revealing how individuals saw the fairs and how the public as a whole responded to them.

They help show the American historical background of the Fairs through the Declaration of Independence, Louisiana Purchase, Thomas Edison’s patent application for the light bulb, the Supreme Court Decision on Plessy vs. Ferguson (which approved the notion of separate but equal facilities), and an excerpt from President Theodore Roosevelt’s 1904 message to Congress in which he announced what has become known as the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, advocating American imperialism. These five documents may be printed out from, an online collection of 100 seminal documents from American History and guides to teaching about them.

The many articles from magazines contemporary with the Fairs provide a window into the social and intellectual setting of the Fairs and into the Fairs’ evolution through the quarter century studied here, giving students a first hand view of how people at the time of the Fairs viewed the events.

Web sites

The African-American Experience in Ohio, 1850-1920.
Ohio Historical Society, 1998. This site has documents relating to African-Americans in Ohio through the second half of the 19th century and first part of the twentieth. Some of these are newspaper and journal articles addressing broader topics in America, such as the World’s Fairs.

The Afro-American Almanac.
The Digital Development Group, 2001. This is an extensive collection of documents and essays relating to blacks and race relations in the United States. It has an interesting essay about the prevalence of Jim Crow laws during the period of the fairs.

“Doing the Pan…”
This site has a self-guided tour of the 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, along with documents from and about the fair itself.

Illuminations: Revisiting the Buffalo Pan-American Exposition of 1901.
The Libraries, University at Buffalo, 2001-2003. This site has stories, documents, images, and essays from and about various aspects of the 1901 Fair.

Making of America.
Cornell University Library, 1999.

Making of America.
MOA, 1996 and 2001. These are websites with thousands of documents from the period between 1815 and 1926, with both page images and text. Magazines such as Atlantic Monthly, The Century, and many others are included.

Our Documents.
National Archives and Records Administration. This site contains one hundred seminal documents in United States history, as well as teaching plans about how to design courses around them.

Sklar, Kathryn Kish and Erin Shaughnessy. Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1775-2000.
State University of New York at Binghamton, 1997. This site has a discussion of the racial issues at the Chicago Fair, along with many documents relevant to the discussion.

Zwick, Jim ed.
Jim Zwick, 1995-2003. This site is dedicated to anti-imperialism, and has an extensive section on the World’s Fairs. It has the text of journal articles and speeches, as well as links to page images of many articles. A very valuable site for finding documents.

Background Documents

United States Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776.
Text and page image printed from Our Documents.
This is the document in which the U.S. claimed independence from the British Empire, creating the United States of America.

Louisiana Purchase Cession Treaty and Two Conventions, 1803.
Text and page images printed from Our Documents.
In this treaty, the U.S. acquired the whole French territory of Louisiana, beginning the American drive westward.

Thomas Edison’s Patent Application for the Light Bulb, 1879.
Text and page images printed from Our Documents.
Edison and the light bulb are symbolic of American material and technological progress in the last two centuries.

Plessy vs. Ferguson Supreme Court Decision, May 19, 1896.
Text and page image printed from Our Documents.
In this landmark decision (overturned more than half a century later), the U.S. Supreme Court declared racial segregation constitutional as long as facilities are equal for all races.

Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine: Excerpt from Theodore Roosevelt’s Message to Congress on December 6, 1904.
Text and page images printed from Our Documents.
In this speech, Roosevelt announced his desire to expand the American empire to help civilize the world and strengthen the American economy.

Articles from the 1876 Fair

“The Centennial Exhibition.” The Manufacturer and Builder, January 1876.
Page image and text printed from Making of America, Cornell.
This editorial expects the 1876 Fair in Philadelphia to create American collective pride in “what will undoubtedly be one of the grandest events in the history of this country.”

“The Centennial Celebration.” The Nation, July 1876.
Text printed from
This very interesting editorial discusses the role of the American government in making “valuable additions to the art of living in society.”

Mitchell, Donald G. “In and About the Fair, First Look: Picturesque Aspects.” Scribner’s Monthly, September 1876.
Page images printed from Making of America, Cornell.
This article addresses the many exhibits at the Fair. It is very interesting because it provides insight into how contemporaries saw the Fair itself.

“Characteristics of the International Fair.” Atlantic Monthly, July 1876.
Page images printed from Making of America, Cornell.
This article reveals an outlook on society and underlying assumptions about everyday life that may seem unusual to modern students.

Articles from the 1893 Fair

“Topics of the Times: What the Columbian Exhibition Will Do for America.” The Century, October 1892.
Page images printed from Making of America, Cornell.
This is a look at the role of American art; it reveals the evolving feelings many Americans shared about their place in the world.

“A City of Realized Dreams.” Catholic World, July 1893.
Page images printed from Making of America, Cornell.
This discusses art, American ideals and the magnificence of the White City. It is an interesting view on the country.

Wells, Ida B. and Frederick Douglass. The Reason Why the Colored American is not in the World’s Columbian Exposition. 1893.
Text printed from Women and Social Movements in the United States.
These chapters open the pamphlet circulated at the Columbian Exposition. They show how many African-Americans viewed America.

Burnham, Daniel. “White City and Capital City.” The Century Magazine, February 1902.
Text printed from
Daniel Burnham, the chief architect of Chicago’s White City, discusses the impact the Chicago Fair’s design had on the planning of cities throughout the country.

Barrows, John Henry D.D. “The World’s First Parliament of Religions, in September 1893, at Chicago.” American Review of Reviews, April 1893.
Text printed from
This article extols the virtues of creating a parliament of religions, which the author says has never been held before. It then proceeds to focus almost exclusively on the different types of Christianity and what the gathering can do for Christians. This view on pluralism is very different from those of today.

Van Brunt, Henry. “The Columbian Exposition and American Civilization.” Atlantic Monthly, May 1893.
Text printed from Making of America, Cornell.
Van Brunt argues that the Columbian Exposition will be a magnificent display unlike any before and will awaken American desire to improve in all walks of life.

Articles from the 1901 Fair

Chapple, Joe Mitchell. “Personal Impressions of the Pan-American Exposition.” National Magazine, an Illustrated American Monthly, July 1901.
Page images printed from Illuminations.
In his observations on the Fair, Chapple claims that the Pan-American Exposition “is a composite study of American life, such as can never be enjoyed elsewhere” and that “it is the unity of spirit and keen observance of other that has goven America pre-eminence in the industrial and commercial world.”

McKinley, William. William McKinley’s Pan American Address. Bensley and Wesley Printers, 1901.
Page images printed from Illuminations.
On the day he was shot, McKinley spoke of America’s pride in her accomplishments, claiming that “expositions are the timekeepers of progress.”

White, Eugene Richard. “Aspects of the Pan-American Experience.” Atlantic Monthly, July 1901.
Page images printed from Making of America, Cornell.
This is an interesting article about the enormity of entertainment and the midway in the Fair. It suggests that the whole fair is an allegory for the country. Some concerns raised about American tendencies will reveal much about the nature of American society at the time.

The Pan-American Herald. The Pan-American Herald Co., August 15, 1899.
Page images printed from Illuminations.
This is an issue of the Official Publication of the Pan-American fair, published nearly a year and a half before the Fair opened. It includes discussions of several forthcoming exhibits as well as many interesting advertisements.

Articles from the 1904 Fair

“World’s Fair: Discrimination Against the Race Having a Natural Effect.” The Cleveland Gazette, July 30, 1904.
Page images printed from The African-American Experience in Ohio.
This article talks briefly about the poor treatment of African Americans at the 1904 Fair.

McGee, W. J. “Strange Races of Men.” The World’s Work, August 1904.
Text printed from
McGee claims that “the course of human progress may be traced in a general way from the ethnic and cultural types assembled on the grounds,” and he describes how some of the foreign exhibits fit into “human progress.”

“Theodore Roosevelt’s Address at the Dedication Ceremonies of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, April 30, 1903.” Addresses and Presidential Messages of Theodore Roosevelt, 1902-1904. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904.
Text printed from
Roosevelt describes American expansion over the previous century, declaring that the history of westward expansion “showed the practical governmental genius of our race.”

Meiklejohn, Bernard. “A New Epoch in the Use of Power.” The World’s Work, August 1904.
Text printed from
This article discusses with awe and amazement the new technologies shown at the fair, and claims that they will revolutionize industry.

Walker, John Brisben. “Athletics and Health: The Department of Physical Culture.” Cosmopolitan, September 1904.
Text printed from
This article addresses the changes Americans made since the 1893 Exposition in how they viewed athletics. “What is needed is not violent competition for the few” claims Walker “but constant, steady development for all.”