John A. Wakefield, 1851- [RG3939.AM]


RG3939.AM:  John A. Wakefield, 1851-

Scrapbooks (on microfilm):  1895-1898

Omaha, Douglas County, Neb.:  Secretary to the Board of Directors of the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition

Size:  2 reels of microfilm containing 10 volumes


John A. Wakefield was born in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania in 1851. In 1876 he moved to Rock Island, Illinois, where he engaged in the lumber business. Four years later, Wakefield settled in Omaha, Douglas County, Nebraska, and entered into the wholesale lumber business. He served as Secretary of the Omaha Fair and Speed Association, and beginning in 1895, as Secretary to the Board of Directors of the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition.

The Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition had been inspired by Chicago’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 an enterprise that was seen as a huge cultural success. A year after Chicago’s fair, the Trans-Mississippi Congress held its annual session to discuss measures designed to promote the commercial and material interests of the region. In 1895 the Congress stated its desire to create an “exposition of all the products, industries, and civilization of the state west of the Mississippi River, made at some central gateway, where the world can behold the wonderful capabilities of these great wealth producing states…”

The Exposition was held three years later, from June 1 to November 1, 1898. Located on 184 acres of land within the city limits of Omaha and twelve minutes from the city’s business center, it housed 5,119 separate exhibits, representing 40 states and 10 foreign countries, on 500,000 square feet of floor space and 75,000 square feet of gallery space. The exhibits illustrated progress in transportation, electricity and machinery, liberal and fine arts, manufactures, agriculture, mining, and horticulture. When the Exposition closed, more than 2,600,000 people had explored its exhibits. Surprisingly, it was also rapidly paying-off its debts to subscribers.


The Wakefield scrapbook collection relates to the history and development of the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition, and consists of 2 reels of microfilmed manuscript material in one series: 1) Scrapbooks, 1895-1898. Only the microfilm is available; the original volumes are not in the NSHS collections. The scrapbooks trace the Exposition from the time the Trans-Mississippi Congress discussed the idea, through planning stages and construction, to reports of daily events while the Exposition was in progress.

According to the Omaha Excelsior of August 27, 1898, the scrapbooks were compiled by Mrs. John A. Wakefield. They provide information about endorsements of other states, cities, and organizations; appropriations; officers and committees; location discussions; planning; labor and costs involved; architectural issues; building locations; railroad assistance; the investigation of Dion Geraldine, Superintendent of Construction, for mismanagement of funds (vol.3); commemorative stamps; dedicatory ceremonies; conventions and special events held at the exposition; the role of Indians at the exposition; special attractions; the visit of President William McKinley (vol. 7); etc.

Although the scrapbooks contain a variety of official documents from the Exposition (see especially vol.1), by far the most prevalent materials are newspaper clippings, most often from the Omaha Evening Bee, the Morning Bee, the Omaha World Herald, and the Sunday World Herald. Researchers should be aware that Mrs. Wakefield often cut down the size of the newspaper articles, and did not include all available articles about the Exposition. The original newspapers may be consulted for more complete coverage. A chronological summary of many, but not all, clippings in the scrapbooks is available, and includes its own topical index. Two volumes of advertising trade cards are included in this collection (vols. 9 and 10).

Note:  See also the official records of the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition [RG0042], as well as the papers of Governor Silas Holcomb [RG0001, SG17]. For photographs relating to the Exposition (as well as a few manuscript items), see RG2752. See the NSHS Library Catalog and the Nebraska History index for published materials relating to the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition. The NSHS Museum Collections contain various tickets, posters, etc., relating to the Exposition. Not all materials are on exhibit. Interested researchers should contact the Museum Collections department to schedule an appointment.


Series 1 – Scrapbooks, 1895-1898

Reel 1


    1. Nov. 25, 1895-Dec. 21, 1896

    1. Dec. 22, 1896-Aug. 18, 1897

    1. Aug. 19, 1897-Feb. 10, 1898

    1. Feb. 11, 1898-June 1, 1898

    1. June 1, 1898-July 31, 1898

    1. Aug. 1, 1898-Sept. 30, 1898

    1. Oct. 1, 1898-Nov. 25, 1898

    1. Miscellaneous Clippings, Jan. 1897-Sept. 1897 [p. 1-49]

Reel 2


    1. Miscellaneous Clippings, Jan. 1897-Sept. 1897, continued [begins on p.50]

    1. Advertising Cards

    1. Advertising Cards



Douglas County (Neb.) — History

Exhibitions — Nebraska — Omaha

Omaha (Neb.) — History


Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition (Omaha, Neb.)

Wakefield, John A., 1851-


AIF/pjm   01-16-1980

KFK/dh   07-16-1998

Encoded TMM   06-11-2010

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