Chapter

Making Identities

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/9780226293127.003.0008
Making Identities

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Sometimes the meaning of an event is best understood by those looking in from the margins, those excluded for one reason or another, who could not attend but recognize the importance of being present. This was certainly the case for the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs, which planned to hold their biannual convention on the fairgrounds in July 1904. The sad story of this futile endeavor and the group's intense desire to affirm membership for middle-class African Americans in the larger American community by appearing on the fairgrounds underscores the importance of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition as a site of modern pilgrimage. Their self-imposed exile was the inevitable reaction to the reputation for discrimination of the Exposition, for its unfair treatment of African Americans in restaurants and other concessions. This chapter suggests several new ways to construe the meaning of the St. Louis Fair and world's fairs in general—ways of reflecting upon history with the new knowledge gained from considering memory and experience as vital sources of meaning.

Keywords: St. Louis; experience; memory; history; Louisiana Purchase Exposition; Colored Women's Clubs; African Americans; discrimination; fairs

Chapter.  4534 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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