Wow! Only 6 days left in Boston! The time has flown by!
This week, I have had the pleasure of working at the Boston Public Library. It has been wonderful! They have a huge world’s fair collection, and when I say huge, I mean it! I haven’t even tried to wrap my mind around how big it must be with 114 folders alone dedicated to the Centennial Exhibition. Now, I can’t say that I went through all 114 folders. Some of them hold materials that don’t interest me, pertain to what I’m researching, and/or are very repetitive. For example, there are a lot of different visitors’ guides, but they all basically say the same thing.
Probably the coolest thing I found is a pamphlet called “Centennial Fun.” Basically, it is an old, tattered pamphlet full of 19th-century humor that pokes fun at some of what was going on at the Exhibition. New waiters, overcrowding, and travel are a few of the topics covered. Before this, I hadn’t seen anything that shed a negative light on the Exhibition. I knew those opinions had to exist though. If anything, the humorous negativity actually helped build the magnificent world I have been dreaming up in my head. With the letters and articles I’ve read, I’ve been able to imagine this glorious fair full of new inventions, different cultures, and unspoken (as well as spoken) political messages, but this pamphlet brought it all full circle. The Centennial Exhibition was fun, and everything wasn’t perfect.
When trying to understanding things in history, it’s easy for me to place myself outside of the event as some sort of outside viewer: it’s like you’re in the Louvre, and you’re intently studying the Mona Lisa. But what happens when you become a part of that painting? Jump into the Mona Lisa Blue’s Clues style, and become her friend. Ask her what her expression is all about. Bring everything full circle, and it’s a brand new experience. I think we all can do that with any situation. It doesn’t have to be a moment in history or a piece of art: it can be jumping into someone’s life with a willingness to understand where they’re coming from. We could all gain a lot from taking that time to devote ourselves to understanding others. For me, I’ve gained a lot of respect for a variety of people in researching this project. Some of them are living mentors and people whom I’ve met along the way, and others lived a long time ago in 1876 and fought for equal rights for women, African Americans, and Native Americans. Most likely, it will be something totally different for you, but I encourage you to give it a try! Maybe you’ll end up having part of yourself living in a time period over 200 years ago, too!