Department Chair

Andrew D. Nicholls, Ph.D., Professor of History

Date of Award


Access Control

Open Access

Degree Name

History, M.A.


History and Social Studies Education Department


Felix L. Armfield, Ph.D., Professor of History

Department Home page

First Reader

Felix L. Armfield, Ph.D., Professor of History

Second Reader

Gary Marotta, Ph.D., Professor of History



Fighting for Recognition

The Role African Americans played in World Fairs

In the years following the Civil War African Americans were locked in a struggle for equality. Persevering through racism and the institution of Jim Crow laws, African Americans made advancements socially, economically, politically, and educationally.

As the U.S. ushered in the dawn of the 20th century, World Fairs became the altar on which blacks could showcase their progress since Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. From the 1889 fair in Paris to Buffalo’s Pan American Exposition of 1901 African Americans fought for a ‘Negro Exhibit’ to factually portray their race. If it were not for the diligent efforts of the staff at the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library, the existence of the ‘Negro Exhibit’ at Buffalo’s fair could have been lost to history. The library staff’s work has given African Americans a voice in Buffalo’s 1901 Pan American Exposition as well as an opportunity for future historians to glimpse into the culture of early 20th century America.