Guide to the Edward J. Orth Memorial Archives of the World's Fair
Digitized Content

Collection ID:
Orth, Edward J.
Exhibition Collectors Historical Organization
Collection text is in
. Some materials in
, and
Physical Description:
130 Cubic feet
417 boxes, 23 map-folders
Collection documents the 1939 New York World's Fair in Flushing Meadows, New York. Also includes materials on other world's fairs, the Exhibition Collectors Historical Organization (ECHO), New York City tourism and Disney.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The collection contains the archival materials collected by Edward Orth including postcards, newspaper clippings, exhibitor's literature, photographs, scrapbooks, tickets, pamphlets, brochures, magazines, books, and motion picture film.

The collection is arranged into ten series.
Series 1, Edward J. Orth Personal Papers, 1939-1989
Subseries 1.1: Correspondence, 1939-1989
Subseries 1.2: Other Materials, 1915-1989
Series 2, Exhibition Collectors Historical Organization Records, 1942-1990
Subseries 2.1, Organizational History, 1960-1988
Subseries 2.2: Correspondence, 1942-1990
Subseries 2.3: Classified Ads, 1956-1988
Subseries 2.4: Financial Records, 1976-1989
Subseries 2.5: Newsletters, 1969-1988
Subseries 2.6: Membership applications, renewal notices and cancellations, 1977-1987
Series 3, New York World's Fair, Inc. Records, 1900-1988
Subseries 3.1: Administrative Files, 1900-1971
Subseries 3.2: Amusement Zone, 1937-1940
Subseries 3.3: Communications and Business Systems Zone, 1939-1965
Subseries 3.4: Community Interest Zone, 1939-1940
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, 1939-1988
Series 4, Photographic Materials, 1876-1969
Subseries 4.1: General
Subseries 4.2: Amusement Zone
Subseries 4.3: Business Systems Zone
Subseries 4.4: Communications Zone
Subseries 4.5: Community Interest Zone
Subseries 4.6: Food Zone
Subseries 4.7: Government Zone
Subseries 4.8: Production and Distribution Zone
Subseries 4.9: Transportation Zone
Subseries 4.20: Miscellaneous
Subseries 4.21: Oversize
Subseries 4.22: Color Slides
Subseries 4.23: Color Transparencies
Series 5, Scrapbooks, 1938-1981
Series 6, Postcards, 1906-1985
Series 7: Publications Related to World's Fairs, 1922-1989
Subseries 7.1: Magazines, 1922-1988
Subseries 7.2: Newspaper Articles, 1935-1989
Subseries 7.3: Other Publications, 1939-1973
Subseries 7.4: Other Subjects, 1962-1989
Series 8: Materials Relating to Other Fairs, 1951-1988
Subseries 8.1: Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations/Crystal Palace Exhibition
Subseries 8.2: New York Crystal Palace Exhibition
Subseries 8.3: Centennial Exposition
Subseries 8.4: World's Columbian Exposition
Subseries 8.5: Exposition Internationale D'Anvers (Antwerp, Belgium)
Subseries 8.6: Tennessee Centennial and International Exposition
Subseries 8.7: Trans-Mississippi Exposition
Subseries 8.8: South Carolina Inter-State and West Indian Exposition/Pan-American Exposition
Subseries 8.9: Louisiana Purchase Exposition
Subseries 8.10: Jamestown Tercentennial Exposition
Subseries 8.11: Alaska, Yukon, Pacific Exposition
Subseries 8.12: Panama-California Exposition
Subseries 8.13: Bronx International Exposition of Science, Arts and Industries
Subseries 8.14: Sesquicentennial Exposition
Subseries 8.15: Barcelona International Exposition Subseries 8.16: L'Exposition Coloniale, Paris
Subseries 8.17: Olympics
Subseries 8.18: Century of Progress
Subseries 8.19: California Pacific International Exposition (San Diego)/Brussels International Exposition
Subseries 8.20: Great Lakes Exposition/Texas Centennial Central Exposition
Subseries 8.21: Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne
Subseries 8.22: Golden Gate International Exposition
Subseries 8.23: Festival of Britain
Subseries 8.24: Milan Fair
Subseries 8.25: Exposition Universelle et venti Internationale de Bruxelles
Subseries 8.26: Moscow
Subseries 8.27: Century 21 Exhibition
Subseries 8.28: Expo 67
Subseries 8.29: Long Beach, California (cancelled)
Subseries 8.30: HemisFair 68
Subseries 8.31: Expo 70
Subseries 8.32: Expo 74
Subseries 8.33: Expo 75
Subseries 8.34: American Revolution Bicentennial, 1776-1976
Subseries 8.35: Queens Bicentennial Festival
Subseries 8.36: Expo 81, (cancelled)
Subseries 8.37: Portopia 81
Subseries 8.38: 1982 World's Fair
Subseries 8.39: Louisiana World Exposition
Subseries 8.40: Olympic Games
Subseries 8.41: Expo 85
Subseries 8.42: Queens Festival
Subseries 8.43: Expo 86
Subseries 8.44: World Expo 88
Subseries 8.45: Expo 92
Subseries 8.46: Expo 2000
Subseries 8.47: Combined Fairs
Subseries 8.48: General information about world's fairs
Series 9: Ephemera, 1934-1987
Subseries 9.1: New York (arranged first by subject and then general materials)
Subseries 9.2: Other States and Countries (alphabetical by location)
Subseries 9.3: Disney and Wizard of OZ Materials (chronological order)
Series 10: Audio Visual Materials, 1939, 1964-1965
Subseries 10.1: Moving Images, 1939; 1964-1965
Subseries 10.2: Sound Recordings
Series 11: Oversize, 1835-1992

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Edward J. Orth grew up relishing history, particularly the history of the New York World's Fair. His experience of visiting 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 a collection that filled two houses in California. The collection not only included materials of the 1939 New York World's Fair but also documented events before and after the fair. He also collected materials from a number of other fairs. Edward Orth was also instrumental in creating an organization for people who wanted to collect information and trade artifacts and relating to world's fairs materials.
Mr. Orth was born April 19, 1927 to Andrew Joseph Orth and Florence Minnie Gordon Orth in New York. The family would later include another son George, some six or seven years younger than Edward. In the 1930's, the Orth family lived in a number of locations in New York including Ridgewood, Brooklyn, Glendale, and Queens. In 1935, the family eventually moved to St. Albans, Queens, New York where Orth lived seven miles from Flushing Meadow Park, future site of the New York World's fair.
The year 1939 was a particularly painful one for the family due to a number of deaths. Edward Orth's paternal grandmother died on April 22nd. His grandfather, Michael Orth, also passed away in April. Three months later his grandmother Gordon died on July 22th. The severe losses to the Orth-Gordon families limited many social activities; however, the family did drive by the grounds of the future site of the world's fair. For the first time Edward Orth glimpsed the Trylon and Perisphere. Later, Orth would remark that the sight appeared to be magic.
In the summer of 1939, Edward Orth went to the fair with his class at Public School 136. The next summer Edward and his father walked over to an elementary school in Hollis, Queens, New York and purchased a 10 admission ticket for elementary school students. Edward Orth saved every souvenir and every bit of information he could find about the fair. He filled scrapbooks with photographs from newspapers and the 1939 Curt Teich and Manhattan PC Company postcards that were on sale at the corner candy store. When his family moved from an apartment to a house he acquired an old world's fair bench which he kept in the backyard.
In 1941, Orth attended Newton High School in Elmhurst, and Queens, New York. The high school offered a special college preparatory technical course which involved heavy emphasis on mathematics, science, mechanical drawing and workshop courses. Such educational pursues coupled with the motion picture films which he saw at the fair, including Thomas Edison's "The City of Light", Ford Motor Company's "Road of Tomorrow", "Democracy" and General Motors' "Futurama" inspired Orth's interest in architecture and landscaping. This inspiration formed the basis of his decision to become a city planner for California.
By 1943, Orth began to explore used magazine and book stores in New York City to continue his collecting of world's fairs materials. Two days after graduation in 1945 he was enlisted in the army. Upon his discharge he resumed buying and trading worlds' fairs' postcards. From 1948-1953, Orth continued his education at the University of California and the University of Connecticut where he studied architecture and landscape design. Between these years he posted advertisements in various postcard collector clubs publications in his continued pursue of world's fairs materials. In March 1953, Mr. Orth moved to Los Angeles, California. It was during his time in Los Angeles that he really began to make contact with other World's fairs buffs and formed lasting friendships based on this common interest. By 1967, Orth and a number of his closest friends including Peter Warner, Oscar Hengstler, David Oats, Larry Zim, and Ernest Weidhaas conceived the idea of a world's fair collector's society. By the summer of 1968 this group had formally created the Exhibition Collectors Historical Organization (ECHO).
Edward Orth was always concerned about the welfare of his collection and did not want the materials to be broken into parts and sold. Instead he wanted it to go to a museum. Mr. Orth stipulated in his will that the collection would be given to the Smithsonian Institution upon his death. In 19??, Jon Zackman, former Smithsonian employee, conducted two interviews on micro cassettes. One interview was conducted with George Orth, brother of the collector. The other interview is with Peter Warner, another world's fairs collector. Orth and Warner had corresponded extensively and had traded objects. Mr. Orth primarily covered the west coast area while Peter Warner was his east coast counterpart.

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).
Processing Information
Processed by Jon Zackman, museum staff; Ron Simon, intern; Anne Jones volunteer; Franklin A. Robinson Jr., archivist,; supervised by Vanessa Broussard-Simmons, archivist. Finding aid encoded by Alison Oswald, archivist.
Vanessa Broussard-Simmons and Jon Zackman

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Use
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.
Conditions Governing Access
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.
Preferred Citation
Edward J. Orth Memorial Archives of the New York World's Fair, Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Related Materials
Materials in the Archives Center
Warshaw Collection of Business Americana (AC0060)
Larry Zim Collection (AC0519)
Materials at Other Organizations
New York Public Library

Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Souvenirs -- 1930-1940 Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Exhibitions -- 1930-1940 -- New York (State) -- New York Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
World's fairs Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs -- Black-and-white photoprints -- Silver gelatin -- 1930-1940 Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Pamphlets -- 1930-1940 Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Guidebooks -- 1930-1940 Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
New York World's Fair (1939-1940 : New York, N.Y.) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
P.O. Box 37012
Suite 1100, MRC 601
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012