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April2007
HOME Fascinating Rhythm Let Your Fingers Do the Walking Take a Look, It's in a Book Thomas Jefferson Was a Poet, and We Didn't Even Know It Da Plane! Da Plane! Everybody Plays the Fool...Sometime on April 1 Before It Was A Movie . . . It Was A Media Sensation
Before It Was A Movie . . . It Was A Media Sensation

It started with one book in 1900 and grew into a series of 40 books, stage shows, several movies, and related novelties. The Wizard of Oz is a distinctly American fairy tale and, a century after it was first published, one of the longest-running mass media sensations.

A. 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz' [poster], 1900 B. 'Publicity still showing main characters from 1939 version of 'The Wizard of Oz' [Jack Haley, Burt Lahr, Frank Morgan, Judy Garland, and Ray Bolger],' 1939 'The Tin Man,' poster for Fred R. Hamlin's 'musical extravaganza,' 'The Wizard of Oz,' 1903

The Wizard of Oz was published in 1900 when its author, L. Frank Baum, was 44 years old. By the time he died in 1919, Baum had written 13 other books set in Oz, including the Ozma of Oz and The Emerald City of Oz, as well as many other books for children and for adults. The Oz books were so well loved that Baum's publishers continued to reissue them into the 1960s. Long before that, The Wizard of Oz had captured the hearts of theatergoers. A stage version opened in Chicago in 1902. It was a hit and moved on to New York in 1903 to become one of the great successes in Broadway history. Oz stories graced the silent movie screen and in 1939 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer released its film version, which quickly became a Hollywood sensation, capturing the imagination of Depression-era audiences as well as the subsequent generations that followed.

In celebration of the Wizard's 100th anniversary, the Library of Congress has created an online exhibition, The Wizard of Oz: An American Fairy Tale. Visit the site and explore the wonders of Oz.


A. Credit: Carqueville Litho Company, "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" [poster], 1900. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.

B. Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, "Publicity still showing main characters from 1939 version of 'The Wizard of Oz' [Jack Haley, Burt Lahr, Frank Morgan, Judy Garland, and Ray Bolger]," 1939. Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division, Library of Congress.

C. Credit: U.S. Lithograph Company, "The Tin Man," poster for Fred R. Hamlin's "musical extravaganza," "The Wizard of Oz," 1903. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.