Monday, July 27, 2009

History Repeating

The Continuing Education column in this month's issue of Convene is about the history of trade shows -- a subject that seems to pop up even when you're not looking for it. Even when you're minding your own business, reading an interesting new book called Passing Strange: A Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception Across the Color Line, which is about the double life of Clarence King, the first director of the U.S. Geological Survey. More or less apropos of nothing, author Martha A. Sandweiss drops in this nugget:

"On July 12, 1893, a young historian from the University of Wisconsin named Frederick Jackson Turner delivered an after-dinner talk on 'The Significance of the Frontier in American History' to the scholars gathered in Chicago for the annual meeting of the American Historical Association. Across town at the great Columbian Exposition, Buffalo Bill Cody staged his own version of American frontier history to considerably larger crowds."

It's not that the history of the trade show (or meeting, or convention) is the history of America. But sometimes it sure seems that way.

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