Michael Zinman collection of World's Fairs and Expositions material
Print Collection 47
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held
at the University of Pennsylvania. Unless
otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our
reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Michael Zinman collection of World's Fairs and Expositions material
Print Collection 47
6 linear feet (8 boxes)
This collection is largely in English but some portions are in French, German, and Spanish.
Wolrd's fairs and expositions have been held internationally from 1851 and continue into the present. This collection comprises
written materials, memorabilia, and, to a more limited extent, other materials such as photographs and musical recordings
from or related to world's fairs and expositions that took place between 1851 and 1992. Most expositions recognized by the
Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) are represented, as well as many that are not officially recognized by the BIE.
Some non-world's fair events are also represented to a limited extent. While events from around the world are featured in
the collection, it primarily centers on expositions that occurred in the United States.
Michael Zinman collection of World's Fairs and Expositions material, 1851-2000 (bulk: 1873-1992), Print Collection 47, Kislak
Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, University of Pennsylvania
While national expositions had taken place in France since the end of the eighteenth century, the modern institution of what
would come to be known primarily in the United States as the "world's fair" and, in most other regions, the "world exposition"
properly began with the 1851 London Great Exhibition of the Works and Industry of All Nations. The Great Exhibition, as it
would come to be known, took place in the famous Crystal Palace in Hyde Park and prominently featured the industrial achievements
of the United Kingdom specifically and the western world generally. From then, world's fairs, expositions, and other internationally-oriented
festivals became a veritable craze that lasted well into the twentieth century and continue to this day. In the nineteenth
century, world's fairs/expositions generally followed the rubric established at London's Great Exhibition in 1851 whereby
both national committees and private companies sought to showcase new technologies and industrial progress in general. Many
world's fairs/expositions also centered around specifically nationalistic and at times generally western-imperial themes,
such as the famous 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, the 1899 First Greater America Colonial Exposition in Omaha,
the 1922 Exposition nationale coloniale in Marseille, and the 1925 Empire Exposition in Johannesburg.
Beginning with the 1939-1940 New York World's Fair in New York City, the theme of which was "Dawn of a New Day," the institution
of the world's fair/exposition took on a future-oriented perspective that focused on intercultural exchange in addition to
industrial and national advancement. As consumerism took hold, these events also placed a premium on showcasing new products
and the supposed capacity for corporations to improve the lives of people around the world. Of course, historian Robert W.
Rydell points out in
World of Fairs: The Century-of-Progress Expositions (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993) that this shift did not necessarily stem from a decisive move away from the
"imperial dreams" of exposition organizers but rather reflected a need to marry "science and technology to the modern corporation
as the blueprint for building a better tomorrow" (7). From the 1990s to today, the primary focus of world's fairs/expositions
shifted again as these events began to center more on displays of national image and cultural achievement. World Expos, as
they are now typically called, continue to be held every few years, have only grown in size and expense, and tend to center
on themes that foreground challenges faced by humanity as a whole.
This collection was compiled and donated by Michael Zinman, and the bulk of its materials span from the years 1873 to 1992.
For an extensive, critical study of world's fairs and expositions in general, see Paul Greenhaulgh,
Fair World: A History of World's Fairs and Expositions from London to Shanghai, 1851-2010 (Winterbourne, UK: Papadakis, 2011). For studies of American world's fairs, see Robert W. Rydell,
All the World's a Fair: Visions of Empire at American International Expositions, 1876-1916 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987) and Rydell,
World of Fairs: The Century-of-Progress Expositions (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993).
This collection comprises written materials, memorabilia, and, to a more limited extent, other materials such as photographs
and musical recordings from or related to world's fairs and expositions that took place between 1851 and 1992. Most expositions
recognized by the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) are represented, as well as many that are not officially recognized
by the BIE. The collection includes appreciable amounts of material related to some of the most historically significant world's
fairs, such as the 1893 Chicago World's Columbian Exposition, the 1900 Paris Exposition universelle, the 1933-1934 Chicago
Century of Progress, the 1939-1940 New York World's Fair, the 1939-40 San Francisco Golden Gate International Exposition,
the 1958 Brussels Wereldtentoonstelling/Exposition universelle et internationale, and the 1962 Seattle Century 21 Exposition.
With regard to each exposition featured in the collection, the majority of materials included tend to be promotional and/or
informational handbills, brochures, and booklets either relating to the exposition in general or to specific exhibits, companies,
or nations represented at the exposition. Some non-world's fair events are also represented to a limited extent, such as the
1888 Cincinnati Flower Festival, the 1925 Scottish Motor Exhibition, and the 1957 Jamestown Festival. While materials from
events that took place around the world are included in the collection, it primarily centers on expositions that occurred
in the United States.
University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, 2019 November 25
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Cory Austin Knudson
This collection is open for research use.
Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright.
It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the
Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.
Alfred E. Heller Collection of World's Fair Material. General Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale
Centennial Exhibition photograph and ephemera (Accession 2003.255), Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807.
Century of Progress International Exposition Publications, Crerar Ms 226, Special Collections Research Center, University
of Chicago Library. World’s Fair Photographs series, Benson Ford Research Center, The Henry Ford.
Edward J. Kobiela World's Fair Collection, Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico.
Edward J. Orth Memorial Archives of the New York World's Fair, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Michael Zinman World's Fairs Collection, Library Company of Philadelphia.
New York World's Fair 1939-1940 records, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library.
Panama Pacific International Exposition records, BANC MSS C-A 190, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.
Paul Gillespie Collection of New York World's Fair Materials, PR 283, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural
Collections, The New-York Historical Society.
World's Columbian Exposition. Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.
World's Fair Ephemeral and Graphic Materials collection, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.
World Fairs and Expositions collection. MS 302. Special Collections and Archives, University Library, University of California,
World' s Fair, 1904-[ongoing]. National Fairground Archive, University of Sheffield Library. GB 2314 NFA 0085.
A significant amount of information relating to world's fairs and expositions, including digitized official records, monographs,
publicity, artwork, and artifacts, as well as archival information can be found at http://www.worldsfairs.amdigital.co.uk