The Louisiana Purchase Exposition, commonly known as the Saint Louis World's Fair of 1904, was the last great international exposition before the Great War of 1914. The fair, built on a 1,200 acre site, was conceived on a gigantic scale. It included hundreds of thousands of objects, people, animals, displays, and publications from 62 exhibiting countries and 43 of the 45 states. The setting of world's records, such as the largest organ, and working displays of every important technological advance were significant design goals. It was no accident that the 11-volume set, Louisiana and the Fair; an exposition of the world, its people and their achievements (included here) was published by the World's Progress Publishing Co. The Fair itself was a combination of trade show, civic showpiece, monument to cultural self-consciousness and boosterism, along with more than a tinge of American exceptionalism. It betrays the grandiose ambition of the gilded age, forming a kind of collective utterance encompassing the nineteenth century's paean to international understanding in the furtherance of peace, prosperity, and progress. It's a grand snapshot in time of American and foreign societies as they wished to portray themselves.
The documents here are intended to complement existing Internet collections and to further scholarly research and serious inquiry. They are from the collections of the University of Missouri Libraries and University Archives and were selected because they were not yet available on the Internet. Perhaps the most important of these is Mark Bennett's History of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. The diversity of subjects is huge: veterinary practice, the famous artist Max Klinger, and poverty and relief efforts in Leipzig - and this just from Germany. The Committee on Digitization Initiatives of the MU Libraries hopes that these resources will be useful to the people of the State of Missouri and beyond, and we welcome any comments or questions.
The digitization in 2010 of the resources in this collection was supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act as administered by the Missouri State Library, a division of the Office of the Secretary of State.
MU ID: mu:5211.