Stories from the Fair: Women of Century 21

Women's Participation at the 1962 World's Fair

The decade of 1960's marked a turning point in American culture. The Civil Rights movement was at its height and women were just beginning to break out of the traditionally prescribed image of a ‘housewife’ and carve out new roles for themselves in public and professional spheres.

Although all of the executives and department heads for Century 21 were male, women played important roles in making the fair successful. They worked diligently behind the scenes as organizers, secretaries, and as exhibit managers and guides. The wives of some of the fair's top brass performed hundreds of hours of unpaid labor -- hosting luncheons and dinners, shepherding the families of VIP visitors around the fairgrounds and the city, and working with the Protocol Office to greet diplomatic visitors upon their arrival. As much as their male counterparts, female performers and special guests from around the world were memorable and highly publicized faces of the fair.

The slideshow above presents a collage of historic photographs illustrating the many ways in which women helped shape the 1962 World’s Fair.

For more on women of Century 21, see the book, 'The Future Remembered: The 1962 Seattle World's Fair And Its Legacy,' by Paula Becker, Alan J Stein, and the Historylink Staff.