Colored World's Fair card

By The History Detectives Team
20 October 2009
Category: DIY Investigations


This mystery came to us from Kathleen M. of Ypsilanti, Mississippi. She found this old, weathered piece of cardstock at an antique shop in Oklahoma. It measures 2 x 3.5 inches - about the size of a business card. It reads: Colored Worlds Fair Employer’s Pass by “N. E. Clarke” Fair Committee. The handwriting below it reads “Montie Pearson, 88.” Along the left margin is written either “Display Trailer” or “Display Trailcar.”



The antique shop owners were unable to provide Kathleen with any background information on the card. She knows that prominent African American expositions were featured at both the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago and at the 1895 Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta. But she says that a cursory internet search for “Colored World’s Fair” revealed little about the event. She wants to know:

What was the Colored World’s Fair, and was it ever held?

Questions to consider:

  • Who are the two people listed on the card?

  • Was the Colored World’s Fair mentioned in historic newspapers?

  • Did State or Federal Government finance this event?

  • Why would an employer’s pass be printed for an event that wasn’t held?

Tips on where to start your search:

So how does this work? Start sleuthing! Use this space to update us on your findings and to exchange ideas or collaborate. And if you hit a roadblock, let us know about it. Happy hunting.


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