Search form

Donate Today

When Seattle Invented the Future: The 1962 World’s Fair (2012)

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.



There are 4 Comments

Read Comments Hide Comments

I watched and enjoyed the Seattle World's Fair 50 year program and it brought back many, many memories. I was 14 at the time and going to the fair with my Dad was the only time we went anywhere, just the two of us. It was a very special day for me.
We received a Century 21 souvenier dollar and I was thrilled. My Dad was a jeweler in downtown Seattle and he put the dollar into a casing so I could wear it as a necklace. It is still one of my most treasured memories. While watching your program I went in and showed it to my husband who is not from the area. He was very impressed.
Thank you so much for all the wonderful programming. It is very much appreciated.
LJ McVay

I would like to watch the Seattle worlds fair documentary but don't live in Seattle. Can I stream it?

Hello Heather,

We do not have plans to stream this documentary any time soon. You can, however, pledge to KCTS and choose the DVD as your thank-you gift:

Also, I believe we are currently in talks to share the program with some other public televisions across the country. Possibly to one near you!

Hope this helps!

KCTS 9 Staff

My mother-in-law was one of the featured musicians, one of the group of the St. Johns Mandolin and Guitar Club, the grandmothers singing group who performed at the fair. I am writing up her remembrances and sending them to "Reminisce" magazine. Do you have a quality photo of this group that I could use?


Joan S. Hamblin