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World's Columbian Exposition glass plate images

Identifier: Midwest-MS-WCEGlassImages

Scope and Content of the Collection

Nine glass plates, 11 x 14 inches, depicting scenes from the World's Columbian Exposition. Eight of the plates are positive images and show interiors and exhibits from the Anthropological Building, Machinery Hall, and the Manufactures and Liberal Arts Building, as well as exhibits from what are likely the Horticulture and Fish & Fisheries Buildings. The ninth, the only negative, is of the "John Bull, No. 1." shown by the Pennsylvania R.R. Co.


  • Creation: 1893



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The World's Columbian Exposition glass plate images are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The World's Columbian Exposition glass plate images are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections at

History of the World's Columbian Exposition

The World's Columbian Exposition was held from May-October 1893 in celebration of the 400th anniversary of Columbus' arrival in the Americas. The fair was principally designed by Daniel Burnham and Fredrick Law Olmstead with fourteen 'great buildings' which showcased innovations in technology, manufacturing, and agriculture alongside exhibitions of art and music, literature, and science. Among the architects commissioned to design the individual buildings were Charles B. Atwood (Anthropological Building, Forestry Building, Palace of Fine Arts), Henry Ives Cobb (Fish and Fisheries Building), and the firm of Adler & Sullivan (Transportation Building).

Machinery Hall and the Horticulture Building were designed by Robert Swain Peabody and the firm of Jenney and Mundie, respectively. The John Bull, No. 1, shown by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, was brought to Chicago from the Smithsonian Institution after first undergoing some restoration work. During the fair the locomotive was used as an attraction, providing rides to attendees.

The Manufactures and Liberal Arts Building, designed by New York architect George B. Post, was one of the largest buildings by area at the time of its construction. Displays of manufactured goods from around the world shared the space with exhibits relating to literature, music, education, medicine, government, and social and religious organizations. Other exhibits on sanitation and hygiene and charitable organizations were originally intended for the Manufactures and Liberal Arts Building but were instead moved to the Anthropological Building. One of the last structures to be built for the fair, the Anthropological Building featured exhibits on ethnology, anthropology, archaeology with a focus on the indigenous peoples of the Americas and European colonies. Artifacts from these displays would later become part of the founding collection of the Field Museum of Natural History.


0.4 Linear Feet (1 box)


The collection consists of nine glass plate images, eight positives and one negative, taken at the World's Columbian Exposition. The images show exhibits and displays from several buildings throughout the fair including the Manufactures and Liberal Arts Building, the Anthropological Building, and Machinery Hall among others.


Materials are arranged alphabetically by building and then by exhibit.

Collection Stack Location

1 45 3


Gift, William Wilke Family, 2018.

Processed by

Katy Darr, 2018.

Inventory of the World's Columbian Exposition glass plate images, 1893
Katy Darr
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States