Tuesday, October 24, 2006

2999 Women at the Chicago Columbian Exposition of 1893

My grandmother was a teen-ager attending Ashton High School in Illinois at the time of the Chicago Columbian Exposition. Along with 27 million other people, she strolled through the exhibits and marveled at the sights from foreign lands, and the fabulous architecture of the "White City." One of the most stunning books you'll ever read about murder, mayhem and architecture is Devil in the White City. I'd seen many knick-knacks, guidebooks and souvenirs in her home.

It was very easy to get to Chicago from their farm--much easier than today. In fact, I think the train came through Franklin Grove depot 5 or 6 times a day and the family often shopped in Chicago, visited friends and saw a doctor there. Her father owned property in Chicago and it was later donated to the Church of the Brethren for the Bethany Sanitarium and Hospital. So I just love to read about the fair, and in 1993 when the Medical Library Association had its annual meeting there, I thoroughly enjoyed all the exhibits of the 100th anniversary of the fair.

Libraries and Culture, Vol. 41, no. 1, 2006, has seven essays on the Woman's Building of the Exposition. The Woman's Building [floor plan]contained a library with 7,000 volumes authored, illustrated and edited by women,(including 47 translations and editions of Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin) produced between the 16th to 19th Century. If you are from Illinois, you'll be interested in the article about the 58 novels in that collection which were authored by Illinois women. Libraries and Culture (which will be changing its title to Libraries and the Cultural Record, which seems a bit redundant to me and will mess up serial records in thousands of libraries with vol. 42, is available on-line if you have a login to a library that has a subscription. Or you can ask for it from interlibrary loan at your local library.

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