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Key Documents from the St. Louis World’s Fair Now Available through MU Libraries

Feb. 24, 2011

Story Contact(s):
Christian Basi,, 573-882-4430

COLUMBIA, Mo. ­— In 1904, the city of St. Louis hosted the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, which became popularly known as the St. Louis World’s Fair. The exposition, which was held to celebrate the centennial of the Louisiana Purchase, hosted an estimated 20 million visitors. Now, the University of Missouri Libraries are providing searchable online access to the text and illustrations of its collection of materials from the Louisiana Purchase Exposition.

“The Louisiana Purchase Exposition was a significant event in Missouri and U.S. history,” said Jim Cogswell, director of the MU Libraries. “The fair and the progress it highlighted thrust St. Louis into the global spotlight and became a source of tremendous regional and national pride. I am very proud that we are able to make these historically valuable documents widely available to students and researchers.”

The materials in the collection include posters, multi-volume book sets, lithographic views of the exposition, and photographic view books submitted by the University of Missouri to the St. Louis World’s Fair for its exhibit in the Palace of Education and Social Economy. An important item for the history of the exposition is the World’s Fair Bulletin, a monthly publication running from 1900 through 1904 that provided insight into the planning, construction, management and activities of the fair. Another highlight of the collection is James Buel’s eleven-volume publication, Louisiana and the Fair: An Exposition of the World, Its People and Their Achievements, which was published in limited edition in 1905 and gives a detailed history of the fair.

The digitization in 2010 of the resources in this collection was supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act as administered by the Missouri State Library, a division of the Office of the Secretary of State. The collection is available for free online and through the University of Missouri Digital Library at;c=lex.  It also will become available through the Missouri State Library later this year.

The MU libraries serve more than 32,000 students and 1,800 faculty members with a collection of 3.1 million print volumes, 53,400 journal titles (in print or online), and more than 7.5 million microforms. With an annual budget of $16.8 million, the libraries support the instruction, research, service and economic development missions of the University of Missouri. Visit the MU Libraries online at