October 24, 2023 | Last updated Oct 19, 2023

The World’s Fair of the Midwest

The Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition, also known as Omaha World’s Fair, was held in Omaha, Nebraska, from June to November 1898. The Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition was initiated by the Trans-Mississippi Commercial Congress, which aimed to encourage the commercial interests of states and territories west of the Mississippi River. The Trans-Mississippi Commercial Congress designed the Expo to highlight products, resources, and industries west of the Mississippi River.

Black and white photographic print of the Grand Court at the Trans-Mississippi Exposition held in Omaha, Nebraska.

Black and white photographic print of the Grand Court at the Trans-Mississippi Exposition held in Omaha, Nebraska.

Omaha was chosen to host the Expo, and the United States government allocated $200,000 for construction and resources. The equivalence in today’s value would be over $6,000,000. The Expo was visited by more than 2.6 million visitors and helped shine a light on Omaha as a growing city and westward commercial expansion. The Expo also featured over 500 Indian delegates from over thirty-five different tribes who were present at the Fair.

Black and white photographic print of a birds eye view of of the Grand Court at the Trans-Mississippi Exposition. Caption reads, "Copyright 1898 F.A. Rinehart, Omaha. Birdseye View-Grand Court. No. 73. Trans-Mississippi Exposition and Indian Congress, Omaha, Nebraska, 1898."

Black and white photographic print of a bird’s eye view of the Grand Court at the Trans-Mississippi Exposition. Caption reads, “Copyright 1898 F.A. Rinehart, Omaha. Birdseye View-Grand Court. No. 73. Trans-Mississippi Exposition and Indian Congress, Omaha, Nebraska, 1898.”

The Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition Records are divided up by general correspondence, personal records, financial documents, directors reports, and guest registers. What has been digitized and made available for the public by History Nebraska is Correspondence, 1896-1898; Administrative Records, 1897-1898; Directors Reports, 1897-1898; and Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws, 1896-1902.

Keep an eye out in our Digital Collections Portal for another fascinating part of this collection that is still being digitized: the guest registry. The registry includes the date of visit, the name, and the address of those who attended the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition.

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History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
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