In 1893, the Libbey Glass Co. built a glass factory on the grounds of the World’s Columbian Exhibition in Chicago. One of the most notable exhibits at the fair was a dress made of spun-glass fibers that was presented to Princess Eulalie of Spain (via Vintage Photo LJ)


Friends! I’m playing around with a new series and calling it JSTOR: Beyond the Book, where we take popular non-fiction and fiction titles and direct you to journal articles on JSTOR that enhance your reading experience. Maybe the author cites articles and you can find their original research on JSTOR, or there are first-hand accounts of a historical event, or even just really great background information. 

First up: Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

From Amazon: "Erik Larson—author of #1 bestseller In the Garden of Beasts—intertwines the true tale of the 1893 World’s Fair and the cunning serial killer who used the fair to lure his victims to their death. Combining meticulous research with nail-biting storytelling, Erik Larson has crafted a narrative with all the wonder of newly discovered history and the thrills of the best fiction.“

Journal articles about the 1983 Chicago World’s Fair published in 1893-1894: these are real-time accounts of the White City and the entire list of (free!) articles can be found here. A few of interesting individual articles below. 

  • Exhibit of Games in the Columbian Exposition - A detailed description of games and puzzels from around in the world in the Anthropological Building
  • The Decorative Uses of Electricity at the Columbian Exposition -  "By far the most striking exhibit was that made by the General Electric Company, on the main floor. The central piece of display was the great Edison Tower of Light, the tall shaft extending almost to -the roof of the colonnade, the whole studded with miniature incandescent lights, arranged in geometrical figures of red, orange and purple. These were wired on various circuits, each connected with a separate key on the keyboard, so that a variety of combinations, both of shapes and colors, could be brought into action by the simple pressure of the proper keys. The tower was surmounted by a huge model of the Edison lamp, constructed of forty-thousand prisms of glass carefully wired-to an iron framework within. The bulb was ten feet high. The total number of lamps was eight thousand, being equivalent to the light of fifty thousand sperm candles.”
  • Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company’s Exhibit at the Columbian Exposition - cool picture of a Tiffany Glass window on this one.

Let me know what you think of this endeavor, and I’ll tag everything in this series #JSTOR beyond the book. And if you have any suggestions or ideas, send a me a message. Happy reading!


World’s Columbian Exposition

The World’s Fair was held in Chicago in 1893. We know - it’s so cool. Covering more than 600 acres, the beautiful neo-classical buildings were built just for the fair and only temporary - but more than 27 million people came to the site (which just happened to be in Jackson Park and on the Midway) over the six months it was open. Among whole mock-up villages, Norwegian ships, and electrical masterpieces, the visitors witnessed the first ever:

  • Ferris Wheel
  • Commercial movie theater
  • Elongated coins, (the squashed penny)
  • Electrical kitchen and automated dishwasher
  • Phosphorescent lamps

AND SO MUCH MORE! UChicago was being built as the fair was closing - and our football team, the Maroons, were the original “Monsters of the Midway”. The exposition is mentioned in our alma mater: “The City White hath fled the earth,/But where the azure waters lie,/A nobler city hath its birth,/The City Gray that ne'er shall die.

(Photographs courtesy of the Chicago Historical Society, information from Wikipedia!)