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The World's Fair Ephemeral and Graphic Material collection contains ephemera and graphic material for more than 35 fairs and international expositions. The fairs represented range from the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations, held in London in 1851, considered the first world's fair, to the present. Holdings are strongest for the 1876 Centennial International Exhibition held in Philadelphia, the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition held in Chicago, the 1904 Louisiana Purchase International Exposition held in Saint Louis, and the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition held in San Francisco. The ephemera portion of the collection includes advertisements, letters, postcards, tickets, trade cards, menus, souvenir ribbons, and scarves. The graphic materials portion includes illustrations, maps, newspaper clippings, pamphlets, periodicals, photographs, prints, sheet music, stereographs, and a stereograph viewer.
This collection is open to the public and must be used in the Special Collections reading room. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.
Photocopies or digital surrogates may be provided in accordance with Special Collections and University Archives duplication policy.
Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs unless otherwise specified. It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission to publish materials from the appropriate copyright holder.
4 Sound Discs (One letter half-size box) : 4 vinyl records ; 2 12" records, 2 7" records.
The Ephemeral and Graphic Material Collection contains 1843 items. The ephemera portion of the collection contains advertisements, letters, postcards, tickets, trade cards, menus, souvenir ribbons, and scarves. The graphic materials include includes illustrations, maps, newspaper clippings, pamphlets, periodicals, photographs, prints, sheet music, stereographs, and a stereograph viewer.
The idea of world's fairs originated from a French tradition of national exhibitions, a tradition that concluded with the French Industrial Exposition of 1844 held in Paris. This fair was soon followed by other national exhibitions throughout Europe and the United Kingdom.
The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations was held in 1851 in London's Hyde Park and is known as the first international exposition. The Great Exhibition was organized by Henry Cole and Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, to celebrate modern industrial technology and design. It became a platform for countries from around the world to display their achievements.
This exposition set the precedent for the many international exhibitions or world's fairs that have continued to be held to the present. The character and focus of world expositions has evolved to keep up with the changing times. Between 1851 and the 1920, the Golden Age of World's Fairs, the fairs focused on industrialization and celebrating the accomplishments of each country from around the world. Following World War I, the fairs focused on Modernism and "World of Tomorrow." Today, the fairs take a little from both eras: they celebrate modern technology and look to what the future holds for the world.
Even though the fairs have changed over time, they have always allowed people to explore the world outside of their everyday experience. They allowed people to learn about other cultures and experience ways of life outside their normal way of living. The fairs introduced the world to new scientific advancements and new inventions such as the Ferris wheel, telephone, zipper, Cracker Jacks, x-ray, fax machines, and television.
The world's fairs also led to the construction of some of the world's most notable landmarks. Buildings such as the Crystal Palace, constructed for the 1851 Great Exhibition in London; the Eiffel Tower, constructed for the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris; and the Space Needle, constructed for the 1962 Seattle World's Fair, were all constructed for the fairs in their respective towns.
This collection is arranged in 45 series organized by fair:
This collection was transferred to Special Collections and University Archives from the University of Maryland Architecture Library in the fall of 2012. The collection continues to grow as a result of individual donations.
Some of the material from this collection has been digitized and is available through the University of Maryland's digital collections: https://digital.lib.umd.edu/worldsfairs
Several items were removed from the collection and added to the books housed as part of the Special Collections at the UMCP Hornbake Maryland Room National Trust Library Stacks.
The collection was placed in acid-free folders and boxes organized by fair. The items in each series have been grouped together by medium (Clippings, Ephemera, Illustrations, Music, Pamphlets, Periodicals, Photographs, Prints) then subdivided into more specific categories (Advertisements, Letters, Maps, Postcards, etc.) or arranged alphabetically by title.
Part of the Special Collections and University Archives