"Sketch of Proposed Decoration of the Golden
Book of All Nations to be Placed at the Pedestal of the Columbian Statue
in the U.S. Government Building in the Louisiana Purchase Exposition"
By an unknown artist for the U.S. Government Building at the Louisiana
Purchase Exposition, St. Louis, Missouri, 1904
Watercolor on paper over pencil
29 1/2 " x 20 3/4"
National Archives and Records Administration, General Records of the Department
of the Treasury
1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition:
Proposed Decoration of the Golden Book of All Nations Starting in the late 1890s and continuing until
the outbreak of World War I, Americans celebrated their technological
and social progress in a series of dazzling fairs and expositions that
mirrored the nation's growing self confidence and power. These expositions
were showplaces not only for inventions, machinery, and agricultural bounty
but also for architects who designed the fairgrounds as temporary fantasy
"cities," with stately boulevards, lakes, statues, and courtyards surrounded
by opulent Beaux-Arts buildings constructed from plaster. A staple for
fairgoers was the Federal Government Hall, where the latest scientific,
agricultural, and military discoveries would be exhibited. The nearly
20 million people who visited the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in
St. Louis saw remarkable displays such as the electric light, dial telephone,
and flight of a powered dirigible.