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World’s Columbian Exposition, U.S. War Department Exhibit Photographs

 Collection
Identifier: spe-f00134

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of 350 photographs that document the U.S. War Department exhibit in the U.S. Government Building at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The first eleven photographs show views of the exhibit area and the Ordnance Exhibit, in particular. All of the other photographs are mounted to album pages. The 77 album pages are no longer bound. While it is unknown if pages are missing, there are gaps between labeled exhibit numbers. Photographs 12-23 show the installation of the exhibit. The remaining photographs catalog the selected firearms and their schematic technologies in the Ordnance Exhibit. The album is stamped War Department, Chief of Ordnance on the verso side of the album pages. A.H. Russell was the Captain of Ordnance who was in charge of the Ordnance Section at the World’s Columbian Exposition. It is possible that this album was assembled for him or his office.

Dates

  • 1892 - 1893

Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Please consult staff to determine ability to reuse materials from collection.

Biographical / Historical

In the late 1880s Chicago was among the cities vying for the privilege of hosting a World’s Fair celebrating the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the Americas. By 1890 Chicago had bested the other contenders and been chosen as the host city. Although the World’s Columbian Exposition did not open until May 1, 1893 and ran for only six months, it drew more than 27 million people from around the world. The Fair was widely celebrated, but its physical manifestation was transitory. Exhibits were returned to lenders or dispersed. Most fair buildings were temporary structures made with iron, steel and timber covered with a degradable material called “staff,” a combination of plaster, cement and jute fibers. The only remaining building on the fairgrounds is the Palace of Fine Arts, now the Museum of Science and Industry.

Extent

3 Linear Feet (in 2 boxes, includes 350 photographs)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

The collection consists of 350 photographs that document the U.S. War Department exhibit in the U.S. Government Building at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Eleven photographs show general views of the Ordnance Exhibit and the remaining photographs mounted to album pages show the installation of the exhibit and catalog the selected firearms and their schematic technologies on display. A.H. Russell was the Captain of Ordnance who was in charge of the Ordnance Section at the World's Columbian Exposition. It is possible that this album was assembled for him or his office.

Arrangement

The photographs in Box 1 are grouped by view. The photograph album pages in Box 2 are organized mostly by exhibit number with a couple of exceptions. The archivist has retained the descriptions printed on the album pages.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased in 2014 from Chicago Rare Book Center.

Related Materials

C.D. Arnold Photographic Collection

Ellsworth-Arnold Photograph Albums Collection

E.R. Walker Photograph Album

World’s Columbian Exposition, Catholic Educational Exhibit

World’s Columbian Exposition, Glass Plate Lantern Slides

World’s Columbian Exposition, Miscellaneous Photographs

World’s Columbian Exposition, Snapshots Collection

Title
Guide to the World’s Columbian Exposition, U.S. War Department Exhibit Photographs
Status
Completed
Author
Michelle McCoy, 2020. Updated and reformatted for ArchivesSpace by Michelle McCoy, 2022.
Date
2020
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Unit at Harold Washington Library Center Repository

Contact:
Harold Washington Library Center, 9th Floor
Chicago Public Library
400 S. State Street
Chicago IL 60605 United States
(312) 747-4875