LOTW 77: Berry at the World’s Fair

By: Chloe Lombard

Recently, I was editing documents online when I came across a postcard that caught my eye. I was thrilled to see that it was one about the World’s Fair, one of my favorite historical topics. In it, a woman named Mrs. Enck tells Martha Berry all about her experience at the exhibitions. My interest piqued, I just had to research more about it. It turns out that the 1939 New York World’s Fair was the start of a new technological era.

Imagine for a moment that you’re a rural woman in 1939; a friend of Martha Berry’s. You’ve seen her work come to fruition and it’s inspired you. While in New York, you visit the World’s Fair. What you see their promises future technology beyond anything you’ve ever imagined. A Tele-type machine, an early model of television, plays a live video of the Golden Gate International Exhibition in San Francisco. There’s a diorama of many of the world’s most promising laboratories, factories, and office buildings from around the world compressed into one idyllic fictional city.

What’s possibly most impressive though, is the Futurama exhibit sponsored by General Motors. This is a demonstration, complete with moving seats demonstrates motorcars as a reliable mode of transportation over virtually any terrain. You’re proud to be a friend of Martha Berry, who is such good friends with Henry Ford.

In the Court of States, the Georgia building’s colonial architecture evokes a feeling of the traditions of the Deep South. There are exhibits displaying Georgia’s natural resources which claim to provide a wealthier future, something which a person living at the end of the 1930s desperately wanted. At this time, the paper industry was picking up speed. Not only were there natural resources, but new businesses as well. A booth with students from the Berry Schools is there explaining some of Martha Berry’s most notable achievements. Certainly, Martha Berry’s students, the mountain children whom she raised up from poverty and educated could be compared to the rise of modern technology after the Great Depression.

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