Image of MIT World's Fair Albums MIT World's Fair Albums
MIT’s World’s Fair Photographic Albums, 1893–1904

From the time of its founding in 1861, delegates from MIT attended many of the major expositions and world’s fairs. In 1893 and 1904, the Institute contributed exhibitions that showcased its educational achievements. Beginning with the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition held in Chicago, MIT prepared an extensive collection of portfolios filled with hundreds of images. In 1904, MIT updated these volumes for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis. For over a decade, more than 1,000 photographs depicting every aspect of the campus, equipment, and student life were compiled in large, red-bound volumes for prospective students and other interested visitors to peruse. One alumnus who visited the display described the Columbian Exposition this way: “The collection as a whole represented the Institute so well, that it is said if the entire institution were to be swept away, it could be reconstructed from the information contained in the exhibit.”

RSS icon
  • 1893 Columbian Exposition Glass Negatives

    To who it may concern:

    Around 1988 I was working on genealogy for my family tree and was told by my aunt that I should talk to Dorothy Dudley of West Salem, Wisconsin. Dorothy was the town Librarian and also the town Historian. She was in possession of a portrait done of my Great Great Grandfather and four of his brothers. I set up a time to meet with her and set off to West Salem, WI.
    I met with Dorothy Dudley and was amazed at her recall on many events. Dorothy was born around 1906, the daughter of Lewis R. Dudley who was born around 1855 in Connecticut, this according to the 1910 and 1920 US census. She filled me in on a variety of information about my family. She brought out the portrait of the Five Sparling brothers. The print was an Albumen Print measuring 7.5 inches by 5.5 inches. I was amazed of the quality and the condition. I now know that the print was taken prior to 1877 as this would have been the last time the brothers would be together. Two of the brothers moved to Nebraska, this according to one of the brothers obituaries. Also my GGGrandfather died in 1880. According to Dorothy, one of her relatives took the portrait and that she was also related to the Sparling’s. Both details of her relative and who she was related to in the Sparling family escape my memory at this time. She gave me the portrait saying that she had this for all these years and thought it should go to a family member who would appreciate it.
    As we were discussing the portrait I told her that not only was I happy to have the portrait as a great piece of genealogy , but that I was a photographer myself and appreciated the portrait as a piece of photographic history. She then excused herself and said she had something that I might be interested in.

    Dorothy came out of the back room carrying a wooden box, on the front was a label “Glass Negatives Worlds Fair 1893″. She stated that the same relative that took the portrait of the five brothers was the owner of the negatives. There are 73 negatives that are 4.25 inches x 3.5 inches. Although I know that these aren’t originals, I am somewhat confused as to what these were and why he had these. They look like copies, almost like they were copies photographed from an original fair book. Once I got the negatives I put them into archival sleeves labeled them and for the last 24 years I have left them in the box I received them in. Dorothy Dudley passed away in 1994.

    Here are a few things I have put together that might explain the negatives being in the Dorothy’s possession:

    As I said, I got the negatives from Dorothy Dudley, her relative was a photographer, by coincidence the name of the “official photographer” for the “1893 Columbian Exposition” was Charles Dudley Arnold, appointed by Daniel Burnham. I have researched Charles Dudley Arnold’s family history and I cannot find a relation to Dorothy’s family. Charles Dudley Arnold was born in 1844 in Canada and died in 1927 in Buffalo, NY. At the time of the fair he was living in Buffalo, NY.

    West Salem’s most famous son was Hamlin Garland born in West Salem in 1861. He was a Pulitzer Prize winning author in 1922 for a book titled “A Daughter of the Middle Border”. Hamlin was living in West Salem in 1893 and was ” Attracted by the opportunities of the Worlds Columbian Exposition” . Source> Window on the West- Chicago and the Art of the new Frontier 1890-1940 , Judith A Barker, Art Institute of Chicago. He was enamored with the Fair as can be seen in a letter to his parents. “Sell the cookstove if necessary and come. You must see the fair”. Hamlin Garland in a letter to his parents, 1893.
    The Columbian Exposition hosted a Congress on Literature. There, Mr. Hamlin Garland talked about America’s need in the coming 20th Century for a new genre that he called “veritism” or “local color.” He felt that America needed something distinctly American in literature.
    George W Dudley Born 1878, 1910 census, was Dorothy uncle and was considered Hamlin Garlands best friend. Source > HAMLIN GARLAND: HIS WEST SALEM YEARS, 1893-1915 — A Thesis Presented to The Faculty of the Graduate School. Wisconsin State University – La Crosse In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree
    Master of Science by Rodney Hugh Oppriecht July, 1971

    I am very interested in understanding what these negatives might be. Where did they come from and why would Dorothy’s family have these in their possession.

    Pat Sparling

    Pat Sparling
    31 Jan 12 at 8:51 pm
  • Pat, Dorothy’s half brother was Arthur S. Dudley who was a professional photographer. See The negative may have been his.

    Steve Stockheimer
    15 Sep 13 at 2:08 pm