The Centennial Exposition

Held in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park, the Centennial Exposition cost $11 million and attracted more than ten million visitors.

Many of the exhibits focused on mining, manufacturing, and agriculture. There was also a Women's Pavillion, where Susan B. Anthony was barred from reading "A Declaration of Rights for Women."

The exposition's defining symbol was a 1,400 horsepower Corliss steam engine. Among the inventions introduced at the fair were the typewriter and Alexander Graham Bell's telephone. The fair generated renewed interest in the colonial era. It popularized the flagmaker Betsy Ross, saw the completion of Archibald Willard's "Spirit of '76," and heightened interest in colonial architectural styles.

Some 300 Indians from 53 tribes were exhibited at the exposition "to show, in as perfect a degree as is now possible, the original inhabitants of this country and their mode of life."


Questions:

1. What does the fair tell us about the nation's self-image in 1876 and what it wanted to celebrate?

2. What does the fair reveal about the nation's attitudes toward women and minorities?

Resources for the Centennial Exposition
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Copyright Digital History 2018