• The Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition grounds housed objects, stories, and peoples from across the American empire. This ticket provided entrance to the Hawaii Building. Most of the exposition structures were demolished after 1909, but a few remain as part of the University of Washington’s campus. Courtesy of University of Washington.

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    Hawaii Building pass, Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition, Seattle, Washington, 1909
    • Rights
    • For information on permissions for use and reproductions please visit UW Libraries Special Collections Use Permissions page: http://www.lib.washington.edu/specialcollections/services/permission-for-use
    • Partner
    • University of Washington

  • Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition organizers labored to create an authentic and entertaining Igorotte Village on the boardwalk. In this photo, a group of Igorotte men stand in front of a sign that reads "A-TO" and "PA-BA-FOO-NAN,” identifying the stone structure as an assembly place for men. Courtesy of University of Washington.

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    Igorrote men at the Igorrote Village, Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition, Seattle, 1909
    • Creator
    • Nowell, Frank H., 1864-1950.
    • Description
    • Natives of the Philippine Islands. A sign reading "A-TO" and "PA-BA-FOO-NAN" identifies this stone structure as an assembly place for men.PH Coll 727.707
    • Rights
    • For information on permissions for use and reproductions please visit UW Libraries Special Collections Use Permissions page: http://www.lib.washington.edu/specialcollections/services/permission-for-use
    • Partner
    • University of Washington

  • The exposition also showcased how the US managed and maintained its extensive empire. In this photo, the United States Government Building exhibits a model of a Puerto Rican mail carrier. Courtesy of University of Washington.

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    Model of a Puerto Rican mail carrier mounted on a donkey, United States Government Building, Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition, Seattle, 1909
    • Creator
    • Nowell, Frank H., 1864-1950.
    • Description
    • This was part of the U.S. Postal Service exhibit.PH Coll 727.593
    • Rights
    • For information on permissions for use and reproductions please visit UW Libraries Special Collections Use Permissions page: http://www.lib.washington.edu/specialcollections/services/permission-for-use
    • Partner
    • University of Washington

  • Exposition artwork commemorated America's empire. In this lace medallion, one woman holds a steamship carrying goods from Asia, another gold from Alaska, and the third a locomotive bringing wealth to the American continent. Courtesy of National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center via the Smithsonian Institution.

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    Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition Medallion
    • Date
    • 1909
    • Creator
    • Verporte, Edy.
    • Description
    • This needle lace medallion was made to commemorate the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in 1909 held in Seattle, Washington. The lace was designed and made by Eduord Marie Verpoorten (Edy Verporte) a native of Belgium, living in Spokane. The medallion... more
      This needle lace medallion was made to commemorate the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in 1909 held in Seattle, Washington. The lace was designed and made by Eduord Marie Verpoorten (Edy Verporte) a native of Belgium, living in Spokane. The medallion depicts the official seal of the exposition. One of the three women is holding a steamship carrying goods from the Orient, another is holding gold from Alaska and the third holds a locomotive bringing wealth to the American Continent. Mrs. Verpoorten was awarded the Grand Prize for her lace. Currently not on view. less
    • Rights
    • Gift of Margaret Lee Feliz Sherlock & Warren C. Sherlock.
    • Partner
    • Smithsonian Institution
    • Contributing Institution
    • National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

Thousands of miles separated the US from its colonies. This did not stop Americans from imagining Hawaii, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico. They were far-away and exotic, the source of constant curiosity and excitement. Still, they were familiar, inspiring American fashion and entertainment. This section explores how American popular culture—from world's fairs to wallpaper, prose to politics—brought the nation's empire into the lives of average Americans.

Seattle, Washington held one of the largest celebrations of America's newfound international influence. Since the late 1890s, the city had been the gateway to Alaska serving as a major outpost for explorers and entrepreneurs headed north. The Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition opened in 1909 to celebrate the city and nation's connections with Alaska, Canada, and the Pacific Rim.

Among the carnival rides, souvenir stands, and ornate gardens stood a number of other, more exotic exhibitionsmodels of Hawaiian villages, copies of treaties with Puerto Rico, and Alaskan dog sleds. On the exposition's Pay Streak boardwalk, organizers installed a Filipino Igorotte village with fifty native peoples brought in from the Philippines. Attendees had to pay an extra fifty cents for all human exhibitions, but many purchased the ticket. With it, they could watch indigenous peoples like the Igorrote live on the boardwalk. They cooked, slept, sang, and danced, all to the delight and unrelenting demand of exposition-goers.