University of Chicago Library

Guide to the Melissa Cliff Collection 1893-2004

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Descriptive Summary


Cliff, Melissa. Collection




22 linear feet (18 boxes)


Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center
University of Chicago Library
1100 East 57th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.


The Melissa Cliff Collection represents a set of items that were collected by the donor and relate to three world’s fairs held in the United States: the 1893 Chicago, 1904 St. Louis and 1933 Chicago fairs. Items include ephemera and memorabilia that were produced during all three fairs, as well as books and some photographic media of grounds and exhibits.

Information on Use


The collection is open for research.


When quoting material from this collection, the preferred citation is: Cliff, Melissa. Collection, [Box #, Folder #], Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.

Historical Note

The second half of the nineteenth century and the early third of the twentieth were the heyday of world congresses and fairs. The 1851 London Exposition inaugurated the genre of world’s fairs, with a different European and then American city hosting a fair every few years thereafter. For contemporaries, memorable fairs were the 1889 Universal Exposition in Paris, the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, and the 1933 Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago. Like the 1889 Paris Exposition, which featured the Eiffel Tower, the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis remains known for the Gateway Arch.

Scope Note

The Melissa Cliff Collection consists of items pertaining to world’s fairs held in the U.S. that were gathered over time by Melissa Cliff. Items in the collection range from 1893 to 2004 but the bulk falls between 1893 and 1934. The collection is divided in three series corresponding to the 1893 Chicago, 1904 St. Louis and 1933 Chicago fairs. Each series is further arranged into subseries according to material type: memorabilia, ephemera, books, photographic media, and subsequent writings. Only Series I for 1893 Chicago contains all five subseries (i.e., all five types of material) and Series II and III contain two and three subseries, respectively. In contrast to ephemera, items designated as memorabilia were produced during a fair but were intended to be kept afterwards. The largest share of items in this collection is memorabilia. “Subsequent writings” refer to articles written well after a fair had ended. In certain cases, books were also published after a given fair but have been arranged in the book subseries for consistency in grouping by material type.

Related Resources

Browse finding aids by topic.

Albert, Allen D., Reports on World's Fairs, 1929

Buzzell, Edgar A. Collection, 1892-1910

Green, Arnold. Collection

Lindblad, Andrew. Collection, 1839-1937

Mueller, Ian. Collection

Scammon, Arianna E. Collection

World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 Collection

Chicago Collections Consortium “1893 World’s Fair” and “1933 World’s Fair” Collections

Subject Headings


Series I: 1893 Exposition in Chicago

Subseries 1: Memorabilia

Box 1

Decorative porcelain plates with paintings of buildings, circa 1893

Box 2

Decorative porcelain plates with paintings of buildings, 1893

Box 2

Engraved metal saucer, 1893

Box 3

Paper weights showing the Electrical Building, circa 1893

Box 3

Coin, W. Deering & Co., 1893

Box 3

Decorative spoons with etchings of Agriculture and Transportation Buildings, circa 1893

Subseries 2: Ephemera

Box 4    Folder 1

Indexed map of fairgrounds, Rand McNally, 1893

Subseries 3: Photographic Media

Box 5

Photo album in German of fairgrounds and exhibits, 1893

Box 6    Folder 1

Photographic print of Chicago Day, 1893

Box 6    Folder 2

Photographic print of Industry Statue, 1893

Box 6    Folder 3

Photographic print of North Lagoon, 1893

Subseries 4: Books

Box 7   Folder 1

Chicago Tribune souvenir picture book, “Glimpses of the World’s Fair,” 1893

Box 7   Folder 2

Jeanne Madeline Weimann, “The Fair Women: The Story of Building the World’s Columbian Exposition” (1981)

Box 7   Folder 3

“The Chicago World’s Fair of 1893: A Photographic Record” (Dover, 1980)

Subseries 5: Subsequent Writings

Box 8   Folder 1

Chicago Tribune article “Where to Find Remnants of the White

  • City,” 2004

Series II: 1904 Exposition in St. Louis

Subseries 1: Memorabilia

Box 9

Glass plate reading “World’s Fair, St. Louis,” 1904

Box 9

Porcelain plate with painting of Electricity Building, 1904

Box 9

Small copper plated tray with etching of Palace of Varied Industries, 1904

Subseries 2: Books

Box 10

“The Official History of the Fair: St. Louis 1904” (1904)

Box 11    Folder 1

Dorothy D. Birk, “The World Came to St. Louis” (1990)

Series III: 1933-34 Exposition in Chicago

Subseries 1: Ephemera

Box 11   Folder 2

Postcards, 1933-34

Box 11   Folder 3

Exhibit and sponsor brochures, 1933-34

Box 11   Folder 4

World’s Fair Weekly, 1933-34 [1/2]

Box 11   Folder 5

World’s Fair Weekly, 1933-34 [2/2]

Box 11   Folder 6

“Official Pictures” magazine, 1933-34

Box 11   Folder 7

Booklet of souvenir tickets, 1933-34

Box 11   Folder 8

Promotional sugar cubes by Walgreens, 1933-34

Box 12   Folder 1

World’s Fair photo wheel, 1933-34

Box 12   Folder 2

“Official World’s Fair in Pictures” magazine, 1933

Subseries 2: Memorabilia

Box 12   Folder 3

Brass bookmark with “Century of Progress” etching, 1933-34

Box 13

Two painted ceramic mugs, 1933-34

Box 14

Brass commemorative key, 1933-34

Box 15

Three silver spoons with etchings of fair buildings, 1933-34

Box 15

Brass match book cover, 1933-34

Box 15

Pocket knife with Mickey Mouse emblem, 1933-34

Box 15

Brass cuff bracelet, 1993-34

Box 16

Oval glass bottle with etched illustration, 1933-34

Box 17

Completed puzzle of an aerial illustration of fairgrounds, 1933-34

Box 18

Small pot metal tray with etched “Scenes from the World’s,” 1933-34

Box 18

Porcelain plate with illustration of the “Art Institute”, 1933-34

Subseries 3: Subsequent Writings

Box 19   Folder 1

Brochures from the 2004 exhibition “Architecture and Chicago’s 1933-34 World’s Fair,” Chicago Architecture Foundation