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1876 Centennial Exhibition, Philadelphia

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Our guest author today is Gulnar Nagashybayeva, Business Reference Specialist, with another “Favorite from the Fifth Floor.”

Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Historical Register of the Centennial Exposition. 1876

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.


Comments (12)

  1. hello.. nice blog friend..

  2. hi, im going to explain to you what i found in an envolope a document thats REAL thats about the International Exhibition Philidelphia 1876. it has real signatures by the judge and the group of judges. i got some names:W.S. Breenz, John Bradford, Joesph L. Lobias, R.J. Brown and more. could you please tell me what the documents about. i can send a photo if i can get your email. thank you very much.
    -William Brady
    ps. im writing this for my father because he doesnt kno how to use a computer and this document was found in a 1940 Kodak film envelope

  3. Mr. Brady – I thought I would respond to your question directly so you will be getting an email soon.

  4. I found this old book (not a reproduction) Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Historical Register of the Centennial Exposition. 1876.

    I would like to know is there anywhere near Oklahoma where I can get it authenticated.

  5. Mr. Segura – I have responded to you via our ask Ask a Librarian service (via OCLC) but if you miss that and see this briefly here are two suggestions: American Society of Appraisers at and the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America at

  6. I have a Coffee Mill made by Enterprise of Philadelphia that has two Gold Seals of the Centennial Exhibition of the United States.
    I am interested if anyone knows if their are any photos of the exhibits.

  7. In response to Bryan’s comment:
    The company you mentioned is listed in the International exhibition, 1876: official catalogue by United States Centennial Commission that can be viewed on Google Books at
    Here’s what is says on p.38:
    Agricultural Machines, Pneumatic, and Water Transportation.
    969 Enterprise Manufacturing Co., Philadelphia, Pa. – Coffee, drug and spice mills, measuring faucets, tobacco cutters, cheese knives, sad irons, castings. F56. 585
    We are not sure if the image of this particular item is available. Frank Leslie’s illustrated historical register of the Centennial Exposition, 1876 is currently unavailable for us to check. If you have more research questions please put your request on the Ask-A-Librarian page:
    Thank you.

  8. Thank you for the blog. I’m searching for a photo of the Merwin, Hulbert & Co. display that was in the Main Building, East Gallery – probably in the United States Fire Arms section. Can you be of any help? I have an artifact that I believe was in this display. Thanks

  9. @Scott Anderson. Thank you for your question. Currently we are unable to examine our print collections to help you with your question, but many titles on the Centennial Exhibition have been digitized. Please go to Hathi Trust digital library to view full text digital versions of many resources on this event. I found this company listed in the official catalogue but no image was included. There might be other publications with images. Please contact as via Ask a Librarian if you need additional help.

  10. Hi, I have a flag of the 1876 world’s fair it’s the one with all the countries that supported it. It’s in original condition no tears no holes some staining I like to know some more about it I would love to send you a photograph but I can’t on this page if you have any info would really appreciate it.
    Size is 25″ * 15″
    Thank you for your time, Kirk Simon

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