Refugees on levee, April 17, 1897, photo by Carroll's Art Gallery

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Description of Chicago Black Exposition

Produced by the Illinois Writers' Project of the WPA, the Cavalcade of the American Negro is a sweeping history of black contributions to all phases of American life from 1865 to 1940. The book was edited by Arna Bontemps and illustrated by Adrian Troy, of the Illinois Writers' and Art Projects, respectively, and was one of the more important contributions to the Diamond Jubilee Exposition held in Chicago in 1940. The book includes a useful description of all the exhibits at the exposition.

Cavalcade of the American Negro Illinois Writers' Program, comp. Chicago: Diamond Jubilee Exposition Authority, 1940, title page General Collections, Library of Congress (77)

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Brochure Promoting the Chicago Exposition of 1940

This brochure promotes the Exposition and other programs celebrating the emancipation of the American negro and his achievements over seventy-five years since the conclusion of the Civil War in 1865.

Illinois and Chicago invite you to the American Negro Exposition, Celebrating 75 years of Negro Achievement [Chicago], 1940, cover, NAACP Collection Manuscript Division,Library of Congress (78)

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Floor Plan of the Chicago Coliseum, Where the Diamond Jubilee Exposition was Held July 4 - September 2, 1940

The advantageous location and spaciousness of the Chicago Coliseum were two of many factors allowing for a most successful exposition. The Coliseum was filled with exhibitions from every state in the Union, from several Caribbean islands, and from Liberia in Africa. The large black population of Chicago and from throughout the Mississippi region swelled the attendance at the popular event.

American Negro Exposition, Floor Plan at Chicago Coliseum Map NAACP Collection Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (79)

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Letter of April 18, 1940 from Truman K. Gibson, Jr. to Thurgood Marshall

Gibson and other executives of the Negro Exposition went to great pains to write the leaders of the black community throughout the country, especially those key people like Thurgood Marshall, legal counsel for the NAACP (and later a Supreme Court Justice). The presence of so many of these leaders at the Exposition made the affair one of the most successful of our time.

Letter of April 18, 1940 from Truman K. Gibson, Jr. Executive Director of the American Negro Exposition, to Thurgood Marshall, Legal Counsel of the NAACP, Looking Forward to Seeing Him at the Chicago Exposition in the Summer

Typescript letter, April 18, 1940. NAACP Collection Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (80)

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Letter of January 23, 1940 from Snow F. Grigsby to Jesse O. Thomas

The Negro Progress Exposition about which Grigsby wrote to Jesse Thomas was the forerunner of the Chicago Exposition in July 1940. Included in the Exposition, which was held during a convention in Detroit, were exhibit booths set up by many important black organizations, such as the National Urban League.

Letter of January 23, 1940 from Snow F. Grigsby, Exposition Director, to Jesse O. Thomas, Secretary of the National Urban League, Inviting the League to Set Up a Booth at the Negro Progress Exposition to be Held in Detroit from May 10 to 19, 1940

Typescript letter, January 23, 1940 National Urban League Collection Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (82)

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