Chapter

Making Memories

in Whose Fair?

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780226293103
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226293127 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226293127.003.0004
Making Memories

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This chapter focuses on the role of David Francis, the president of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition Company, as leader of the first official memory organization generated by the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. Almost immediately, memory, as reflected in the Louisiana Purchase Historical Association organized by Francis, became more localized and part of the city's economic and cultural heritage. The film Meet Me in St. Louis, released in 1944, became a principal, if not the main, vehicle for recollecting the Fair and was regularly shown at commemorative events. The sources of memory, if not collective memory itself, are not, however, simply confined to organizations, but constitute important historical documentation existing in other formats and gathered at different times. These survive in two general forms: contemporary published personal accounts, diaries, and unpublished accounts and oral histories collected much after the fact. The chapter explores some of the theoretical and practical problems raised by collective memory that are revealed by memory organizations and official commemorations, as well as the perils and promises of using individual oral history and diary accounts.

Keywords: 1904 World's Fair; David Francis; Purchase Exposition Company; memory; Louisiana; cultural heritage; diaries; oral history; St. Louis; commemorations

Chapter.  15349 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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