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Library exhibit lost chapters of Mills history

In honor of the centennial of the Panama Pacific International Exposition, the F.W. Olin Library will be hosting an exhibition of publications and artifacts from the original World’s Fair in 1915.

From Nov. 2 to Dec. 17, items from both the circulating and Special Collections in the library will be on display outside the Special Collections room.

The Panama Pacific International Exposition was a celebration held in San Francisco from February to December of 1915, in honor of the completion of the Panama Canal and the recovery of the city from the massive earthquake that had struck the city nine years before. The original fair overtook the entire Marina district, but the Palace of Fine Arts is the only remnant of it left standing today.

Libraries and museums around the Bay Area will be honoring the centennial of the Fair, and Janice Braun, library director and Special Collections curator at the F.W. Olin Library, felt that Mills should pay homage to the event as well.

Janice Braun and Alex Post, archive specialists at Mills, have spent the better part of the fall semester searching out and compiling pieces for the exhibit. Each piece of the exhibit, most of them published during or in recent commemoration of the 1915 event, were discovered within existing collections of the library.

“We really searched high and low,” Braun said of her journey to seek out memorabilia and writings on the World’s Fair.

During her search, she uncovered more and more information about Mills’ involvement with the fair that had previously been lost to Mills history.

On May 28, 1915, hundreds of Mills students attended the fair to celebrate “Mills Day,” a day organized by the fair to honor Mills’ illustrious place in the local community. Former Mills President Aurelia Reinhardt attended the year before she began her presidency and her personal fair pass now holds a central place in the exhibition.

Additionally, a certificate awarded to Mills during the fair, now on display in one of the exhibit cases, was discovered for the first time in decades within Special Collections, commemorating the presentation of a silver medal to the school for photography of the Mills campus.

Braun and Post hope that this exhibit will help current Mills students get in touch with their local history.

“I’m really happy that we found [these documents], it really did explain how Mills girls were involved and what they did,” Post said.

The exhibit, entitled A Fair Centennial: The Panama-Pacific International Exposition, will be available for public viewing inside the library through the end of the semester, and students are encouraged to stop by.