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Catalog Data

Orth, Edward J.  Search this
Exhibition Collectors Historical Organization  Search this
New York World's Fair (1939-1940 : New York, N.Y.)  Search this
130 Cubic feet (417 boxes, 25 map-folders)
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Exhibition posters--1930-1940
Film transparencies
Motion picture film
Flushing Meadows Park (New York, N.Y.)
New York (N.Y.)
1835-2000, undated
Collection documents the 1939 New York World's Fair in Flushing Meadows, New York. Also includes material relating to other fairs, the Exhibition Collectors Historical Organization (ECHO), New York City tourism and The Walt Disney Company.
Scope and Contents:
Collection primarily documents the conception, planning, construction, management, and operations of the 1939 New York World's Fair located in Flushing Meadows, New York. Materials provide historical context and cultural significance as recorded in publications, artwork, photographs, ephemera, postcards, maps, plans, exhibitor's literature, souvenirs, and motion picture film. Most of the materials were primarily created for people who attended the fair. Some of the materials include scrapbooks created by fair visitors to document their experiences. There is a significant amount of material relating to other fairs, New York tourism, the Exhibition Collectors Historical Organization (ECHO) and the World's Fair Collector's Society. Other forms of entertainment such as festivals, the Olympic games, and Disney World are also found among these materials. There is little information relating to Edward Orth's personal and professional life as a city planner. The collection is arranged into eleven series.
The collection is arranged into eleven series. Series 1, Edward J. Orth Personal Papers, 1915-1989, undated Subseries 1.1, Correspondence, 1939-1989 Subseries 1.2, Other Materials, 1915-1989, undated Series 2, Exhibition Collectors Historical Organization (ECHO) and World's Fair Collector's Society, Incorporated Records, 1942-1990, undated Subseries 2.1, General Information, 1960-1988, undated Subseries 2.2, Correspondence, 1942-1990, undated Subseries 2.3, Classified and Wanted Advertisements, 1956-1988, undated Subseries 2.4, Financial Records, 1976-1989 Subseries 2.5, Newsletters, 1969-1988, undated Subseries 2.6, Membership Materials, 1970s-1989, undated Series 3, New York World's Fair, Incorporated Records, 1900-1988, undated Subseries 3.1, Administrative Files, 1900-1977, undated Subseries 3.2, Amusement Zone, 1937-1940, undated Subseries 3.3, Communications and Business Systems Zone, 1939-1965, undated Subseries 3.4, Community Interest Zone, 1939-1949, undated Subseries 3.5, Food Zone, 1939-1975 Subseries 3.6, Government Zone, 1939-1940 Subseries 3.7, Production and Distribution Zone, 1939-1940 Subseries 3.8, Transportation Zone, 1939-1940 Subseries 3.9, Ephemera, 1938-1988, undated Series 4, Photographic Materials, 1939-1968, undated Subseries 4.1, General, 1939-1940, undated Subseries 4.2, Amusement Area, 1939-1940, undated Subseries 4.3, Business Systems Zone, 1939-1940, undated Subseries 4.4, Communications Zone, 1939-1940, undated Subseries 4.5, Community Interest Zone, 1939-1940, undated Subseries 4.6, Food Zone, 1939-1940, undated Subseries 4.7, Government Zone, 1939-1940, undated Subseries 4.8, Production and Distribution Zone, 1939-1940, undated Subseries 4.9, Transportation Zone, 1939-1940, undated Subseries 4.10, Miscellaneous, 1939-1940, undated Subseries 4.11, Oversize Photographs, 1939-1940, undated Subseries 4.12, Color Slides, 1939-1940, undated Subseries 4.13, Color Transparencies, 1940-1942, undated Subseries 4.14, Edward Orth, 1967-1968 Series 5, Scrapbooks, 1938-1981 Series 6, Postcards, 1906-1985, undated Subseries 6.1, Amusement Area, 1939-1940, undated Subseries 6.2, Business Systems Zone, 1939-1940, undated Subseries 6.3, Communications Zone, 1939-1940, undated Subseries 6.4, Community Interest Zone, 1939-1940, undated Subseries 6.5, Food Zone, 1939-1940, undated Subseries 6.6, Government Zone, International, 1939-1940, undated Subseries 6.7, Government Zone, Federal and States, 1939-1940, undated Subseries 6.8, Production and Distribution Zone, 1939-1940, undated Subseries 6.9, Transportation Zone, 1939-1940, undated Subseries 6.10, General, 1940, undated Subseries 6.11, By Type, 1906-1985, undated Series 7, Publications Related to World's Fairs, 1922-1989, undated Subseries 7.1, Magazines, 1922-1988, undated Subseries 7.2, Newspaper Articles, 1935-1989, undated Subseries 7.3, Other Publications, 1937-1989, undated Subseries 7.4, Other Subjects, 1962-1989 Series 8, Materials Relating to Other Fairs, 1851-2000, undated Subseries 8.1, Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations or Crystal Palace Exhibition, 1851 Subseries 8.2, Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations, 1853-1853 Subseries 8.3, International Exhibition of Arts, Manufactures, and Products of the Soil and Mine or Centennial International Exhibition, 1876 Subseries 8.4, World's Columbian Exposition or Chicago World's Fair, 1893 Subseries 8.5, Exposition Internationale D'Anvers, Antwerp, Belgium Subseries 8.6, Tennessee Centennial and International Exposition, 1897 Subseries 8.7, Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition, 1898 Subseries 8.8, Expositions, 1901 Subseries 8.9, Louisiana Purchase Exposition, 1906 Subseries 8.10, Jamestown Tercentennial Exposition, 1907 Subseries 8.11, Alaska, Yukon, Pacific Exposition, 1909 Subseries 8.12, Panama-California Exposition, 1915-1916 Subseries 8.13, Bronx International Exposition of Science, Arts, and Industries, 1918 Subseries 8.14, Sesquicentennial Exposition, 1926 Subseries 8.15, Barcelona International Exposition, 1929 Subseries 8.16, L'Exposition Coloniale, Paris, 1931 Subseries 8.17, Olympics, 1932 Subseries 8.18, A Century of Progress International Exposition, 1933 Subseries 8.19, Expositions, 1933-1935 Subseries 8.20, Expositions, 1936-1937 Subseries 8.21, Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne, 1937 Subseries 8.22, Golden Gate International Exposition, 1939 Subseries 8.23, Festival of Britain, Britain, London, United Kingdom, 1951 Subseries 8.24, Milan Fair, 1955 Subseries 8.25, Exposition Universelle et venti Internationale de Bruxelles, 1958 Subseries 8.26, American National Exhibition, 1959 Subseries 8.27, New York's World Fair, 1961-1977, undated Subseries 8.28, Century 21 Exhibition, 1961-1962 Subseries 8.29, International and Universal Exposition or Expo 67, 1967 Subseries 8.30, Long Beach, California, 1967-1968 Subseries 8.31, HemisFair 68, 1968 Subseries 8.32, Expo 70 or Japan World Exposition, 1970 Subseries 8.33, Expo 74 or International Exposition on the Environment Subseries 8.34, Expo 75 or International Ocean Exposition, 1975 Subseries 8.35, American Revolution Bicentennial, 1776-1976, 1976 Subseries 8.36, Queen's Bicentennial Festival, 1975-1976 Subseries 8.37, Plovdiv International Exhibition of 1981 or Expo 81 Subseries 8.38, Kobe Port Island Exposition or Portopia 81, 1981 Subseries 8.39, Knoxville International Energy Exposition or 1982 World's Fair, 1982 Subseries 8.40, Louisiana World Exposition, 1984 Subseries 8.41, Games of the XXIII Olympiad, 1984 Subseries 8.42, The International Exposition, Tsukuba, Japan or The International Science Technology Exposition, 1985 Subseries 8.43, Queen's Festival, 1985 Subseries 8.44, 1986 World Exposition on Transportation and Communication or Expo 86, 1986 Subseries 8.45, World Expo 88, 1988 Subseries 8.46, Universal Exposition of Seville or Expo 92, 1992 Subseries 8.47, Expo 2000, 2000 Subseries 8.48, Other Events and Celebrations, 1886-1989 Subseries 8.49, Combined Fairs, 1968-1994 Subseries 8.50, General information about world's fairs, 1964-1980 Series 9, Ephemera, 1892-1989, undated Subseries 9.1, New York and New York World's Fair, 1892-1989, undated Subseries 9.2, Other States and Countries, 1835, 1939, undated Subseries 9.3, Motion Picture Film and Entertainment, 1937-1981, undated Series 10, Audio Visual Materials, 1939, 1964-1965, undated Subseries 10.1, Moving Images, 1939, 1964-1965, undated Subseries 10.2, Sound Recordings, undated Series 11, Oversize, 1835-1992, undated
Biographical / Historical:
Biographical / Historical Edward Joseph Orth grew up with a strong interest in history, particularly the history of the 1939 New York World's Fair. Orth's visit to the fair as a twelve-year-old boy led to a life-long passion of collecting. At the time of his death, he had amassed enough materials to fill two homes in California. Orth also collected materials from several other fairs. In addition, he saved some of the records of the Exhibition Collectors Historical Organization (ECHO) and the World's Fair Collector's Society. Orth was born April 19, 1927, to Andrew Joseph Orth and Florence Minnie Gordon Orth in Glendale, New York. In the 1930s, the Orth family lived in several locations in New York including Ridgewood, Brooklyn, Glendale, and Queens. The home that made the most impact in young Orth's life came in 1935 when the family moved to St. Albans, Queens seven miles from Flushing Meadow Park, the future site of the 1939 fair. Sadly in 1939 there were several deaths in the family including three grandparents. The severe loss of life limited family social activities but a drive by the future site of the fair provided Orth a glimpse of the Trylon and Perisphere. He would later remark that the sight appeared to be magic. In the summer of 1939, he went to the fair with his classmates from Public School 136. The next summer Orth and his father purchased a 10-admission ticket from an elementary school in Hollis, Queens, New York. He saved every souvenir and any information he could find about the fair. He filled scrapbooks with images from newspapers and postcards from the Curt Teich and Manhattan Postcard companies. When his family moved from an apartment to a house, he acquired a fair bench which was kept in the backyard. In 1941, Orth attended Newton High School in Elmhurst, and Queens, New York. The high school offered a college preparatory program with heavy emphasis on mathematics, science, mechanical drawing, and workshop courses. Orth's education and training combined with the knowledge he gained from motion picture films viewed at the fair, including Thomas Edison's "The City of Light," Ford Motor Company's "Road of Tomorrow," "Democracy," and General Motors' "Futurama" provided the foundation and inspiration for a career in architecture and landscaping. He ultimately became a city planner for the state of California. By 1943, Orth was exploring used magazine and bookstores in New York City to acquire more fair materials before enlisting in the United States Army in 1945. Upon his discharge he resumed buying and trading fair postcards. From 1948-1953, Orth attended the University of California and the University of Connecticut where he studied architecture and landscape design. During these years he posted advertisements in various publications in his continued pursue for fair materials. In March 1953, Mr. Orth moved to Los Angeles, California. There he formed lasting friendships with other collectors. By 1967, Orth and several of his closest friends including Peter Warner, Oscar Hengstler, David Oats, Larry Zim, and Ernest Weidhaas conceived the idea of a fair collector's organization. By the summer of 1968, the group had formally created the Exhibition Collectors Historical Organization (ECHO). As time passed Orth became increasing concerned about the welfare of his collection. He wanted it to go to a museum rather than be sold in parts. In his will he stipulated that the collection would be given to the Smithsonian Institution upon his death. Jon Zackman, former Smithsonian employee, interviewed Orth's brother George and fair collector Peter Warner. Orth and Warner corresponded and traded objects over many years. Mr. Orth primarily covered the west coast area while Peter Warner was his east coast counterpart. Edward Orth died on September 6,1989 in Los Angeles, California at the age of sixty-two.
Related Materials:
Materials in the Archives Center New York World's Fair Collection, NMAH.AC.0134 Landor Design Collection, NMAH.AC.0500 Warshaw Collection of Business Americana, Subject Category, World Expos, NMAH.AC.0060 Larry Zim World's Fair Collection, NMAH.AC.0519 Alice R. Hillis World's Fair Film, NMAH.AC.0531 Borden Company 1939 New York World's Fair Collection, NMAH.AC.1063 Memories of the New York World's Fair, NMAH.AC.0592 Archives Center World Expositions Collection, NMAH.AC.0825 Daniel H. Meyerson World's Fair Collection, NMAH.AC.0745 Division of Community Life World's Fairs Collection, NMAH.AC.1132 Princeton University Posters Collection, NMAH.AC.0433 Hills Bros. Coffee Company, Incorporated Records, NMAH.AC.0395 Smithsonian Speech Synthesis History Project, NMAH.AC.0417 Messmore and Damon Company Records, NMAH.AC.0846 Thomas Norrell Railroad Collection, NMAH.AC.1174 William L. Bird Holidays on Display Collection, NMAH.AC.1288 Wurlitzer Company Records, NMAH.AC.0469 Victor A. Blenkle Postcard Collection, NMAH.AC.0200 Materials at Other Organizations New York Public Library The New York World's Fair 1939 and 1940 Incorporated Records, 1935-1945, MssCol 2233. New York City 1939 World's Fair architectural drawings, circa 1935. Museum of the City of New York. Museum of the City of New York. New York City 1939 World's Fair Collection, 1939-1940. Museum of the City of New York. New York World's Fair 1939/40 Collection. Queens Museum. 1939 New York World's Fair Postcards, Identifier: 1972-320, Audiovisual Collections Repository, Hagley Museum & Library
Separated Materials:
Materials at the National Museum of American History Artifacts from the collection include several thousand souvenirs and examples of memorabilia commemorating the fair to include buttons and badges, ceramics, glassware, clothing, costume jewelry, coins and medals, commemorative spoons and flatware, toys and games, and philatelic material which are all part of the Division of Home and Community Life's holdings (now Division of Cultural and Community Life).
Collection is open for research but is stored off-site and special arrangements must be made to work with it. Researchers must handle unprotected photographs with gloves. Researchers must use reference copies of audio-visual materials. When no reference copy exists, the Archives Center staff will produce reference copies on an "as needed" basis, as resources allow. Viewing film portion of collection requires special appointment, please inquire. Do not use when original materials are available on reference video or audio tapes. Contact the Archives Center for information at or 202-633-3270.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Exhibitions -- 1930-1940 -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
World's fairs  Search this
Amusement parks--History  Search this
Amusement parks--New York (State)--History  Search this
Architecture--Exhibitions  Search this
Architecture--New York (State)--New York  Search this
Architecture--United States--Designs and plans  Search this
Burlesque shows--New York (State)--New York--1930-1940  Search this
Business history Business enterprises--United States--History  Search this
Chicago's Century of Progress  Search this
Construction and civil engineering  Search this
Construction industry--United States--Management--History  Search this
Corporate culture--History  Search this
Corporate culture--United States  Search this
Engineering--History--20th century  Search this
Exhibition buildings – New York (State) – New York  Search this
Exhibition buildings--1920-1940  Search this
Exhibitions -- Design  Search this
Fairs -- New York (State) -- New York -- History  Search this
Fashion--History--20th century  Search this
Flushing Meadows-Corona Park (New York, N.Y.)--History  Search this
Food in popular culture--New York (State)--New York  Search this
Graphic arts--United States--History--20th century  Search this
International exhibitions  Search this
International Exhibitions Bureau  Search this
Lighting, Architectural and decorative--History--20th century  Search this
Technology -- United States -- History -- 20th century  Search this
Transportation--New York Metropolitan Area--Planning  Search this
Transportation--New York (State)  Search this
United States --Foreign relations --1933-1945  Search this
Urban parks--United States--History  Search this
Urban design  Search this
World War, 1939-1945 -- Economic aspects -- United States  Search this
Consumerism  Search this
Consumers--History--20th century  Search this
General Motors Corporation  Search this
Grand Central Parkway extension  Search this
Organizational behavior--United States--History  Search this
Public relations--History  Search this
New York World's Fair Commission  Search this
Queens (New York, N.Y.) Buildings, structures, etc.  Search this
Souvenirs -- 1930-1940
Photographs -- Black-and-white photoprints -- Silver gelatin -- 1930-1940
Pamphlets -- 1930-1940
Guidebooks -- 1930-1940
Exhibition posters--1930-1940
Ephemera -- 20th century
Film transparencies
Motion picture film
Posters -- 1930-1940
Edward J. Orth Memorial Archives of the New York World's Fair, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
See more items in:
Edward J. Orth Memorial Archives of the New York World's Fair
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History