Chicago's Progress: Resources on the Century of Progress Exposition
Updated: Aug 25, 2022
This blog, Chicago’s Progress, is a short series highlighting selected historic buildings from the 1933-34 Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago. The project grew out of Cate LiaBraaten’s dissertation work on the world’s fair, and was a joint effort between her and her research mentee, Lisa Pinto, during the summer of 2022.
Each blog post will allow readers to learn more about a specific building at the exposition through historic photos and interpretive essays. This project is for anyone interested in Chicago history, world’s fairs, and the Great Depression. This blog can serve as a jumping off point for more reading about the Century of Progress Exposition: please see our “Further Reading” section for additional resources, many of which we drew on for this project.
The 1933-34 Chicago Century of Progress Exposition was a world’s fair held at the height of the Great Depression. Much of the world’s fair was forward-looking and modernist, yet the most fascinating parts of the Century of Progress Exposition were the areas that were dedicated to the past, specifically: replicas of sites from Abraham Lincoln’s life, a reconstruction of Jean Baptiste Point Du Sable’s first cabin in Chicago, a recreation of Fort Dearborn, and a replica colonial village. During a time of economic crisis, Americans looked to their shared past to make sense of their world and to revisit what they saw as American values.
Millions of Americans visited the Century of Progress Exposition, and it was widely considered important for revitalizing the local economy as well as encouraging optimism for a better future. process. In addition to the relationship and campus community-building, the opportunity for graduate students to have
help with their work and for the undergraduates to work on an in-progress research project is unique.
Cate LiaBraaten is a PhD Candidate in United States History and Public History at Loyola University Chicago. Her dissertation focuses on the 1933-34 Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago, and she examines the world's fair to understand how Depression Era Americans saw themselves and understood the past.
Lisa Pinto is a fourth year undergraduate student studying Political Science and History at Loyola University Chicago. After receiving her B.A. she plans to continue her studies by working towards a M.A. in International Affairs at Loyola University Chicago.
Acknowledgements: We'd like to thank Dr. Elizabeth Hopwood and Felix Oke from Loyola's Center for Digital Humanities and Textual Studies, as well as Kathy Young from Loyola University Archives. Thanks also to Johanna Russ and Morag Walsh from the Chicago Public Library Special Collections and Catherine Grandgeorge at the Newberry Library.
Century of Progress International Exposition. Official Guide: Book of the Fair 1933. Chicago: A Century of Progress, 1933.
Century of Progress International Exposition. Official Guide Book of the World’s Fair of 1934. Chicago: A Century of Progress, 1934.
Beck, David, and Rosalyn R. LaPier. City Indian: Native American Activism in Chicago, 1893-1934. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2015.
Ganz, Cheryl. The 1933 Chicago World’s Fair: A Century of Progress. Urbana, Chicago, and Springfield: University of Illinois Press, 2008.
Findling, John. Chicago’s Great World’s Fairs. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1994.
Findling, John, and Kimberly D. Pelle, ed., Encyclopedia of World’s Fairs and Expositions. (Jefferson: McFarland, 2008.
Rydell, Robert W., Kimberley D. Pelle, and John Findling. Fair America: World’s Fairs in the United States. Washington D.C.: Smithsonian, 2000.
Rydell, Robert W.. All the World’s a Fair. Chicago: University of Chicago Press: 1984.
This project has also benefited from primary source collections at the Chicago Public Library, the University of Illinois Chicago, the Newberry Library, and the Chicago History Museum.