The Trans-Mississippi and International Expositions of 1898–1899


The Trans-Mississippi and International Expositions of 1898–1899

Art, Anthropology, and Popular Culture at the Fin de Siècle

Edited by Wendy Jean Katz

498 pages
35 photographs, 33 illustrations, 3 maps, 6 tables, index


February 2018


$65.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

February 2018


$65.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

February 2018


$65.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

The Trans-Mississippi Exposition of 1898 celebrated Omaha’s key economic role as a center of industry west of the Mississippi River and its arrival as a progressive metropolis after the Panic of 1893. The exposition also promoted the rise of the United States as an imperial power, at the time on the brink of the Spanish-American War, and the nation’s place in bringing “civilization” to Indigenous populations both overseas and at the conclusion of the recent Plains Indian Wars. The Omaha World’s Fair, however, is one of the least studied American expositions. Wendy Jean Katz brings together leading scholars to better understand the event’s place in the larger history of both Victorian-era America and the American West.

The interdisciplinary essays in this volume cover an array of topics, from competing commercial visions of the cities of the Great West; to the role of women in the promotion of City Beautiful ideals of public art and urban planning; and the constructions of Indigenous and national identities through exhibition, display, and popular culture. Leading scholars T. J. Boisseau, Bonnie M. Miller, Sarah J. Moore, Nancy Parezo, Akim Reinhardt, and Robert Rydell, among others, discuss this often-misunderstood world’s fair and its place in the Victorian-era ascension of the United States as a world power.


Author Bio

Wendy Jean Katz is an associate professor of art history at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. She is the author of Regionalism and Reform: Art and Class Formation in Antebellum Cincinnati and the coeditor of Regionalism and the Humanities (Nebraska, 2009).


“[The contributors] demonstrate exceptional skill in interrogating the overlapping discourses of Whiteness and gender at the fairs. . . . Taken all together, perhaps this volume’s greatest strength is the consistent excellence of each scholar’s granular attention to detail aligned with tightly organized analysis such that each object in the metaphorical department store window feels necessary to the overall picture, never overfurnished.”—Madison L. Heslop, Western Historical Quarterly

"[The Trans-Mississippi and International Expositions of 1898–1899] provides a significant addition of high-quality scholarly work to a fascinating topic, and does what good scholarship should do. It opens multiple conversations and lines of inquiry that will surely lead in any number of new directions."—Rachel McLean Sailor, Great Plains Quarterly

"This edited collection deserves a serious look among scholars seeking to explore a host of themes in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, from Native American history and Victorian femininity to imperialism and consumerism. Hopefully, Katz's commendable collection will inspire future work on other fairs that have too long been in the shadow of Chicago."—Michael S. Powers, H-SHGAPE

"[The Trans-Mississippi and International Expositions of 1898–1899] contains a number of interesting, readable, and important essays."—James Gilbert, Journal of American History

"This is a strong edited collection that will interest art historians, world's fairs scholars, indigenous studies researchers, and cultural and social historians of empire."—Nathan Cardon, Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era

"[The Trans-Mississippi and International Expositions of 1898–1899] contributes fruitfully to the growing body of scholarship on popular culture that informs and enriches our understanding of the "fine arts" of the period."—Kimberly Orcutt, Panorama: Journal of the Association of Historians of American Art

“This is an excellent collection that offers insight into the social and cultural history of these Omaha fairs and into the way that popular culture offered a venue for the construction of both U.S. imperial aims and regional identity during the Progressive Era.”—Abigail Markwyn, associate professor of history at Carroll University and author of Empress San Francisco: The Pacific Rim, the Great West, and California at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition  

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Tables
Introduction: America’s Jewel in the Crown
Robert W. Rydell
1. “The Great American Desert Is No More”
Sarah J. Moore
2. The Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition Commemorative Stamp Issue
Bonnie M. Miller
3. Women and Art in the Passing Show
Wendy Jean Katz
4. Trilby Goes Naked and Native on the Midway
Emily Godbey
5. Condensed Loveliness
Tracey Jean Boisseau
6. Indigenous Identities in the Imperialist Imagination
Akim Reinhardt
7. Exposition Anthropology
Nancy J. Parezo
8. Hawaiʻi and the Philippines at the Omaha Expositions
Stacy L. Kamehiro and Danielle B. Crawford
Afterword: The Art of the Historian
Timothy Schaffert
Selected Bibliography

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