Century 21 Exposition


Records of the Century 21 Exposition, Washington State Archives, Puget Sound Branch.

In 1958, the United States was shocked when the Soviet Union became the first country to launch a spaceship into orbit around the earth. In the months and years that followed, the “Space Race” became the impetus for the United Sates to increase its capacity to do scientific research and development. The federal government in particular became concerned about increasing the number of students who chose science as field of study and a profession. The organizers of the Seattle Worlds Fair chose to focus its theme on the twenty-first century and the role that science and technology would play in everyday life.

Start with secondary sources

Use secondary sources to gain basic knowledge of your topic, its significance, and historical context.

Ask a Librarian online at Washington State Library to get expert help in locating useful secondary sources. 


Then use primary sources

Use primary sources to deepen your understanding of the topic, and assemble evidence to support your own analysis and interpretation.

Ask an Archivist online at Washington State Archives to get expert help in locating useful primary sources.


Some key historical research questions:

  • Why did the Federal Government invest so heavily in the Seattle Worlds Fair?
  • How did the Fair convey national concerns and priorities for use of technology?
  • Was the Exposition successful?
  • How accurately did Century 21 exhibits predict the future?
  • What economic, environmental, social and cultural impacts did it have on Seattle and the greater Puget Sound area?
  • Consider other possibilities for historical questions as you analyze and interpret this topic.


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