Whose Fair?

James Gilbert

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780226293103
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226293127 | DOI:
Whose Fair?

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The 1904 St. Louis World's Fair was a major event in early twentieth-century America. Attracting millions of tourists, it exemplified the Victorian predilection for public spectacle. The Fair has long served as a touchstone for historians interested in American culture prior to World War I, and has endured in the memories of generations of St. Louis residents and visitors. This book examines what we can learn about the lived experience of fairgoers when we compare historical accounts, individual and collective memories, and artifacts from the event. Exploring these differing, at times competing, versions of history and memory, it digs through a rich trove of archival material. The book examines the papers of David Francis, the Fair's president and subsequent chief archivist; guidebooks and other official publications; the 1944 film Meet Me in St. Louis; diaries, oral histories, and other personal accounts; and a collection of striking photographs. From this array of sources, it paints a picture of how fairgoers spent their time, while also probing the ways history and memory can complement each other.

Keywords: St. Louis; 1904 World's Fair; American culture; fairgoers; David Francis; experience; memory; exposition; history

Book.  232 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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