Type of Article:
A lecture on the women's building library at the World's Columbian Exposition
Northwestern University Library and the American Library Association present
Right Here I See My Own Books
The Woman’s Building Library at the World’s Columbian Exposition
A lecture by
Sarah Wadsworth and Wayne A. Wiegand
Thursday, March 29, 2012
Reception to follow
Room RB150, Northwestern University School of Law
Arthur Rubloff Building
375 E. Chicago Avenue
In 1893, the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago opened its gates to an expectant public eager to experience firsthand its architectural beauty, technological marvels, and vast array of cultural treasures gathered from all over the world. Among the most popular of the fair’s attractions was the Woman’s Building, a monumental exhibit hall filled with the products of women’s labor—including more than 8,000 volumes of writing by women. Wadsworth and Wiegand demonstrate how this landmark collection helped consolidate and institutionalize women’s writing in conjunction with the burgeoning women’s movement and the professionalization of librarianship in late nineteenth century America. Right Here I See My Own Books illuminates the range and complexity of American women’s responses to these issues within a public sphere to which the Woman’s Building provided unprecedented access.
Wayne Wiegand is a recently retired professor of library and information studies and professor of American studies at Florida State University. He served as the Librarian at Urbana College in Ohio (1974-1976), and on the faculties of the College of Library Science at the University of Kentucky (1976-1986) and the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison (1987-2002. He also served as founder and Co-Director of the Center for the History of Print Culture in Modern America.
Sarah Wadsworth is an associate professor of English at Marquette University with interests in18th- and 19th-century American literature, the history of the book, intersections between American history and literature, gender and reading, andchildren's literature. I addition to Right Here I see My Own Books, she has also authored In the Company of Books: Literature and Its "Classes" in Nineteenth-Century America. Studies in Print Culture and the History of the Book. (University of Massachusetts Press, 2006).