On This Day in 1884, Cotton Centennial

The World's Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition, New Orleans, 1884-85

December 16, 1884 marked the opening day of The World’s Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition. The Cotton Planter’s Association chose to commemorate the first recorded shipment of cotton from the United States to England, which happened in 1784, at the World’s Fair that year in New Orleans.

Special Collections & Archives has several books commemorating the Exposition. The World’s Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition, New Orleans, 1884-85 describes the opening ceremony and exhibits in the fair. Each state in the U.S. (of which there were 38 at the time), the 7 territories (Arizona, Dakota, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Washington, Wyoming), and 17 foreign nations (of which the Mexico exhibit was particularly lauded) had its own exhibit, and there were also dedicated  exhibits on the government, education, women, people of color, the railway, horticulture, art, and livestock.

Catalogue of the art collection describes the art on display at the exhibition and includes prices.

Finally, Map of the city of New Orleans showing location of exposition grounds and all approaches thereto by land & water shows the exhibition’s locations around the city as well as drawings of some of the exhibition buildings. Special Collections & Archives’ copies are very fragile, but the map is digitized and available online in David Rumsey’s Map Collection, Harvard University’s Digital Maps Collection, the University of Milwaukee’s American Geographical Society Library – Maps Collection, and Wikimedia Commons (shown below). Most of the exhibition took place in what is now Audubon Park.

There are many more items related to the Cotton Centennial in the Louisiana Digital Library, including LSU’s  New Orleans Centennial Exposition Stereoscopic Views collection.

A Louisiana "Swamp Angel," G. & S. Building, from New Orleans Centennial Exposition Stereoscopic Views, LOUISiana Digital Library, Baton Rouge, La.

You can view the three books detailed above in the Booth-Bricker Reading Room in Special Collections & Archives, Monroe Library, Monday-Friday 9am-4:30pm.

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