In 1893, Chicago hosted the World’s Columbian Exposition—an epic event that drew nearly 27 million attendees from around the world. The fair celebrated art, architecture, social issues, agriculture, and technology through various exhibitions and displays, providing visitors with both entertainment and educational opportunities.
Many Illinoisans took the train to Chicago to attend the fair, sometimes spending several days taking in all that it had to offer. One of the fairgoers was Hannah Ditzler Alspaugh, a prolific diarist, teacher, and librarian in Naperville. Alspaugh carefully recorded events and happenings in the world around her. She visited the fair 36 times, collecting traditional souvenirs as well as pieces of correspondence and other items left behind when the fair buildings closed. She carefully collected her finds in an old post office ledger book.