A World on Display: The St. Louis World's Fair of 1904

World On Display - 1904 World's Fair World on Display cover image

Written and Directed by Eric Breitbart
Documentary: 53 minutes, Released 1994
DVD: ISBN: 1-878917-12-9
Prices: Home Video: $29.95; Classroom/Institution: $79.00


In the spring and summer of 1904, the eyes of the nation and the world were focused on St. Louis, Missouri, site of a World's Fair commemorating the centennial of the Louisiana Purchase. Largest and grandest of all international expositions, the St. Louis World's Fair displayed America's economic and artistic resources, the latest inventions, and models for urban life. The Fair's organizers also brought more than two thousand indigenous peoples to St. Louis to live in supposedly authentic villages, illustrating both the social Darwinism of the time and Americas new role as an overseas power.

The documentary utilizes first-person accounts of elderly Missourians who went to the fair, interviews with scholars, archival motion pictures, and many never-before-published photographs to situate the St. Louis fair in the social, political, and cultural context of American society at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Features interviews with Robert Rydell (Montana State University), Neil Harris (University of Chicago) Zeynep Celik (N.J. Institute of Technology), and Ted Jojola (University of New Mexico).    

Major Funding: Missouri Humanities Council and the New Mexico Endowment for the Humanities.