World's Columbian Exposition Materials at the Newberry

Ferris wheel illustration from The Book of the Fair: An Historical and Descriptive Presentation of the World's Science, Art, and Industry, as Viewed through the Columbian Exposition at Chicago in 1893. Case oversize R 1832 .07
Ferris wheel illustration from The Book of the Fair: An Historical and Descriptive Presentation of the World's Science, Art, and Industry, as Viewed through the Columbian Exposition at Chicago in 1893. Case oversize R 1832 .07

The Newberry has a rich collection of materials related to the World’s Columbian Exposition that was held in Chicago from May 1 to October 30, 1893. The Newberry had a close relationship to the Exposition: the first president of the Newberry, William Frederick Poole, served as Chairman of the Exposition’s Committee on Literary Congresses. Poole encouraged visitors to the Exposition to view the progress on the Newberry’s building, which was completed and opened to the public in November of 1893, shortly after the Exposition closed.

The Newberry’s Holdings

The Newberry has both primary and secondary source materials related to the World’s Columbian Exposition. In addition to published sources including books, periodicals, collections of plates, and maps, the Newberry’s collections contain scrapbooks, diaries, and souvenirs of the Exposition. Materials created for and about the World’s Columbian Exposition are found throughout the Newberry, in General Collections and Special Collections as well as in the Reference Center.

Bibliographies and Reference Works

Bertuca, David J. World’s Columbian Exposition: A Centennial Bibliographic Guide. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996. Newberry Call Number: Chicago Browsing Z 5883 .B47 1996 (Available in the Chicago Browsing Section on the second floor).

Dybwad, G. L. and Joy V. Bliss. Annotated Bibliography, World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893. Albuquerque, NM: Book Stops Here, 1992. Newberry Call Number: Chicago Browsing T 500 .L1 D93 1992 (Available in the Chicago Browsing Section on the second floor).

Dybwad, G. L. and Joy V. Bliss. Annotated Bibliography, World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893: Supplement. Albuquerque, NM: Book Stops Here, 1999. Newberry Call Number: Chicago Browsing T 500 .L1 D92 1992, Suppl. (Available in the Chicago Browsing Section on the second floor).

Findling, John E. Historical Dictionary of World’s Fairs and Expositions, 1851-1988. New York: Greenwood Press, 1990. Newberry Call Number: Ref T 395 .H57 1990.

Smithsonian Institution Libraries. The Books of the Fairs: Materials about World’s Fairs 1834-1916 in the Smithsonian Institution Libraries. Chicago: American Library Association, 1992. Newberry Call Number: Ref Z 5883 .S63 1992.

Tips for Searching the Catalogs

To find materials about the World’s Columbian Exposition in the Newberry’s online catalog search for the subject “Worlds Columbian Exposition (1893: Chicago, Ill.)”. Materials about other Expositions and World’s Fairs can be found using the subject headings “Exhibitions” and “Fairs”.

To find maps of the Exposition in the Newberry Cartographic Catalog enter “World’s Columbian Exposition” into the search box.

Selected Primary Source Materials

Manuscripts

Manuscripts have traditionally been underrepresented in the Newberry’s online catalog. The following manuscript collections contain materials related to the World’s Columbian Exposition.

Catherine Eddy Beveridge Papers (Midwest MS Beveridge)

This collection includes an autograph book signed by several participants in the World’s Parliament of Religions, which was held in connection with the Exposition.

Mitchell Dawson Papers (Midwest MS Dawson, Box 38 folder 914)

This collection includes a set of clippings about the World’s Columbian Exposition, as well as an invitation and stock certificate for the fair.

Heber de Long Scrapbook (Case oversize R 1832 .222)

De Long, an employee at the World’s Columbian Exposition, created this scrapbook. It contains maps of the grounds, photographs of the Fair (including photos of the Midway) and autographs of some of the Exposition’s prominent visitors, as well as published ephemera from the Fair.

Henry Blake Fuller Papers (Midwest MS Fuller, Box 6 folder 246, and Box 15 folder 480)

Fuller’s papers contain clippings of articles about the World’s Columbian Exposition from a variety of sources.

Frederic Grant Gleason Papers (Midwest MS Gleason)

Gleason compiled scrapbooks that document musical events in Chicago in the late 19th century. Some of Gleason’s own compositions were performed at the World’s Columbian Exposition, and his scrapbooks include World’s Fair concert programs and reviews of performers and performances at the Fair. Gleason also collected mementoes of the Fair that are filed in box 5, folder 172.

Gookin Family Papers (Midwest MS Gookin, Box 6 folder 51)

This collection contains the diary of Elizabeth A. Gookin, which describes twenty-three visits to the World’s Columbian Exposition. A transcription of this manuscript is available in the Special Collections information file on the Gookin Family Papers.

Carter H. Harrison IV Papers (Midwest MS Harrison, Box 21 folder 1109)

The Harrison papers contain a folder of World’s Columbian Exposition memorabilia, as well as correspondence, speeches, and other works by Carter H. Harrison III, Mayor of Chicago during the World’s Columbian Exposition.

Charles Andrews Heath Papers (Midwest MS Heath, Box 3 folder 40)

This collection of diaries contains Chicago businessman Charles Andrews Heath’s brief (usually limited to a line or two) impressions of the Fair.

Illinois Central Railroad Company Records (IC +2.81)

The Illinois Central Railroad Company Records include a set of scrapbooks created by William K. Ackerman, president of the Illinois Central. Scrapbooks six to eight contain newspaper clippings and memorabilia from the World’s Columbian Exposition. The call number for the scrapbooks is IC +2.81.

Christina Olson Papers (Dance MS Olson, Box 1 folders 3-7)

Christina Olson was a performer at the World’s Columbian Exposition, and her papers include work agreements and work evaluations for her performances at the fair.

Parish Family Letters (Midwest MS Parish, Box 1 folder 3)

This collection includes 2 letters by Martha Ellen Luey Parish that describe the World’s Columbian Exposition. One letter refers to the opening of the Fair, and the other mentions the fire that destroyed several buildings on the fairgrounds.

William Morton Payne Papers (Midwest MS Payne)

William Morton Payne, the literary critic and editor, compiled a collection of mementoes from the World’s Columbian Exposition, available in box 23, folder 443.

William H. Peterson Papers (Midwest MS Peterson W, Box 1 folder 16)

These papers include materials about the World’s Columbian Exposition and life in the town of Pullman during the 1890s.

William Frederick Poole Papers (NL Archives 03/01)

William F. Poole was the first Librarian at the Newberry Library. His papers contain correspondence about the World’s Columbian Exposition and his involvement with the Fair’s Committee on Literary Congresses. The bulk of this correspondence is filed chronologically and then alphabetically by author, but there is a small collection filed under “World’s Columbian Exposition” in series 3/01/02/01 box 7, folder 64.

Pullman Company Records (Pullman)

The Pullman Company Records contain a folder of World’s Columbian Exposition stock certificates owned by Pullman (Pullman 02/01/08 box 10 folder 23) and photographs of Pullman cars displayed at the World’s Columbian Exposition (Pullman 13/01/01).

Percy H. Sloan Photographs (Midwest MS Sloan, Box 1 folder 41)

These photographs of the Chicago area include images of some structures created for the World’s Columbian Exposition.

Published primary-source documents

Published primary-source documents are also available in the Newberry’s collections; these can be located in the Newberry Library catalog. Following are some sources that reference librarians have found particularly helpful.

Campbell’s Illustrated Weekly. Chicago: Campbell, 1891. Newberry Call Number: R 1832 .986. This serial publication was known as The World’s Columbian Exposition Illustrated from February 1891 until March 1894. Published in Chicago, it contains information about and illustrations of the people involved with planning the Fair; the process of planning; the construction of the Fair; and attendance and events that took place during and after the Exposition.

Johnson, Rossiter. A History of the World’s Columbian Exposition Held in Chicago in 1893. New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1897. Newberry Call Number: folio R 1832 .456. Published after the Exposition closed, this work contains information on the organization of the Fair; the construction of the Fair; and the Fair’s events, exhibits, and visitors. It is heavily illustrated, and contains information on the aftermath of the Exposition and the financial structure and profitability of the Fair.

World’s Columbian Exposition, and Moses P. Handy. Official Catalogue. Chicago: W. B. Conkey Company, 1893. Newberry Call Number: Wing ZP 883 .C762174 This work contains a wealth of information about the Exposition and its exhibits. Published in 1893, this work was intended to assist visitors to the Fair. It includes lists of the Exposition departments, committees, directors, and exhibits and exhibitors, as well as descriptions of the exhibits and information on admission prices and performance times. Visual materials in this volume include a map of the Exposition grounds, illustrations of the exteriors of Exposition buildings, and floor plans for the buildings that contain location information for the exhibits.

World’s Columbian Exposition, and Moses P. Handy. The Official Directory of the World’s Columbian Exposition, May 1st to October 30th, 1893. A Reference Book of Exhibitors and Exhibits; of the Officers and Members of the World’s Columbian Commission, the World’s Columbian Exposition and the Board of Lady Managers; a Complete History of the Exposition. Together with Accurate Descriptions of All State, Territorial, Foreign, Departmental and Other Buildings and Exhibits, and General Information Concerning the Fair. Chicago: W.B. Conkey Co, 1893. Newberry Call Number: R 1832 .0065 This work was composed using statistics gathered by the World’s Columbian Exposition Board of Control. It is heavily illustrated with photographs of individuals who served on the Fair’s commissions and boards, and with illustrations of the buildings and grounds of the Exposition. The maps of each building showing the location for every exhibit are especially useful, as are the lists of exhibitors.

World’s Columbian Exposition. Official Guide to the Grounds and Buildings of the World’s Columbian Exposition During Construction. Chicago: World’s Columbian Exposition, Dept. of Publicity and Promotion, 1892. Newberry Call Number: R 1832 .0069 This guide contains illustrations and prose descriptions of all Exposition buildings, with measurements of the buildings and their galleries, information on architects and contractors for each building, and details of the construction techniques and costs. Other useful information in this volume includes details of admission fees, details on transportation to the fairgrounds, statistics on foreign and state participation in the construction of the Fair, and the program for the Fair’s dedication ceremonies.

Additional Information

For further assistance with your research on the World’s Columbian Exposition, please consult a reference librarian at either of our two reference desks. We would be happy to assist you with locating newspaper and periodical articles about the Fair, or with finding primary source materials available in other local repositories.