Our guest author today is Gulnar Nagashybayeva, Business Reference Specialist, with another “Favorite from the Fifth Floor.”
May 10, 1876 was the opening date of the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia where industrial exhibits of 37 nations were displayed in over 250 pavilions for six months until its formal closure on November 10, 1876. It was the first major international exhibition to be held in the U.S. and a significant event in the history of the young republic as an opportunity to display to the world the technological and industrial progress it had made in its first hundred years of being.
I discovered some interesting publications on the Centennial Exhibition in the Adams stacks when I looked for answers to a couple of questions related to the event. Some of them offer valuable information on the history of American business and industry.
Available online from the Internet Archive Important events of the century: containing historical and important events during the last hundred years; illustrations and descriptions of the Great Centennial Exhibition at Philadelphia… 1876 covers: significant events that happened in the United States from 1776 to 1877; Centennial program where you can find what day of the Exhibition the parade of butchers was held; a lengthy listing of fictitious names of states, cities, noted persons; facts about important inventions and improvements; sketches of Presidents, etc. The section Leading business houses can serve as a business directory of the time as it lists company names, the nature of business and dates of establishment for various U.S. cities.
Another book that I found most fascinating is Frank Leslie’s illustrated historical register of the Centennial Exposition, 1876. With about 800 fabulous illustrations of the Centennial drawn by prominent artists of the time this book is more than just the register of the Centennial Exhibition. You can find interesting historical facts in the sections on: all the previous world fairs; early history of American industry; illustrations and descriptions of various exhibition halls of the Centennial with information on each of the major participating countries; agricultural statistics by country; industrial progress of States and statistics of the exhibition.
The Library has over 300 items on the Centennial in its collections including prints and photographs and many titles from other countries such as Switzerland, Russia, Brazil, Germany, etc. You can view and download images from the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog. A search for “Centennial Exhibition 1876” on the Library of Congress American Memory site brings up close to 100 digitized items including photographs, illustrations, books and letters for your enjoyment.