Philadelphia's World Fair: Topics in Chronicling America
In 1876, the 100th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence signing was marked by a grand fair. This guide provides access to materials related to the "Philadelphia World's Fair" in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.
Chronicling America is a searchable digital collection of historic newspaper pages from 1777-1963 sponsored jointly by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress.
Included in the website is the Directory of US Newspapers in American Libraries, a searchable index to newspapers published in the United States since 1690, which helps researchers identify what titles exist for a specific place and time, and how to access them.
The 1876 Centennial Exposition, held in Philadelphia to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, was the first “World’s Fair” to be held in the United States. Nearly 9 million visitors attended the “Great Exhibition,” which featured international pavilions, technological innovations, and American natural resources, which later formed the collections now at the Smithsonian Institution. During the Exhibition, a “Congress of Librarians” met and formed the American Library Association. Read more about it!
The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.
The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.
A bill to celebrate the centennial of the Declaration of Independence is proposed to Congress.
March 3, 1871
Congress passes “An act to provide for celebrating the one hundredth anniversary of American independence by holding an industrial exhibition of arts, manufactures, and products of the soil and mine, in the city of Philadelphia, and State of Pennsylvania, in the year 1876” and also creates the United States Centennial Commission.
May 10, 1876
Opening of the Centennial International Exhibition of Industry at the Centennial grounds, by the President of the United States, Ulysses S. Grant.
June 30- July 1, 1876
Grand Army of the Republic, National Encampment and Parade takes place in Philadelphia; similar parades are held across the country.
July 4, 1876
Centennial Fourth of July.
October 4, 1876
A conference of librarians is held during the Exhibition, founding the American Library Association.