Division of Archives and Records Service
Authorized birds eye view of the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition (1909) Looking southeast toward Mt. Rainier. Denny Hall and Parrington Hall visible in the right foreground.

Highlights with Heidi: The Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition

Heidi Stringham
May 3, 2023

The Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, also known as the AYP Exposition, was a world’s fair in Seattle, Washington, in 1909 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Klondike Gold Rush. It attracted over three million visitors to the University of Washington campus and featured exhibits from countries around the globe, including the United States. One state that was particularly involved in the exposition was Utah. 

Utah’s participation in the AYP Exposition was significant as it marked an important moment in its history. Utah was still a relatively new state at that time, having been admitted into the Union in 1896. The expo showcased Utah’s natural resources, cultural heritage, and industrial advancements. 

One of the most notable exhibits from Utah was the state’s pavilion. It showcased various mining and agricultural products and exhibits related to education, art, and recreation. The structure was a reproduction of a section of the Hopi Pueblo, an adobe community dwelling built originally by the Bear and Snake families of the Hopi Indians. Mining, irrigation, and the State’s specialties were well represented in the exhibit.

Utah Building, Alaska-Yukon-Pacific-Exposition, Seattle, Washington, 1909
Utah Building at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific-Exposition in Seattle, Washington, 1909. Image from the University of Washington Libraries Special Collections, Eugene M. Weaver Photographs.

Another aspect of Utah’s involvement in the exposition was the participation of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The choir, which had gained international renown for its performances, was invited to perform at the exposition. This marked a significant moment for the choir, as it was the first time it had performed outside of Utah.

Commemorative medallions made from Utah copper were popular souvenirs, an example of which the Archives holds in Series 5603 – Alaska-Pacific-Yukon Exposition Commission Awards, 1909. The front reads Alaska-Yukon Pacific Exposition 1909 Utah Exhibit and the reverse text is The Great Seal of the State of Utah, 1896, Virgin Utah Copper Industry. These “so-called dollar” souvenirs were popular in the early 1900s as a way to commemorate significant events.

Also found in the Commission Awards series is this silver medal award presented to the State of Utah!

Looking back, Utah’s involvement in the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition was a pivotal moment in the state’s history. It provided an opportunity for the state to showcase its resources, culture, and people to a wider audience. The success of the Utah pavilion and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s performance helped promote the state’s image and attract more visitors and businesses. 

References Consulted 

  • Salt Lake Telegram, Utah to have Fine Display at Seattle, 8 August 1908. 
  • Salt Lake Telegram, Preparing to Boost Utah at A.Y.P. Fair, 14 August 1908.
  • The Salt Lake Herald-Republican, Arranging an Exhibit of Utah’s Resources, 15 August 1908.
  • The Salt Lake Tribune, Tabernacle Choir Charms Thousands, 30 August 1909. 
  • Salt Lake Telegram, Utah’s Good Record at Seattle Fair, 9 November 1909.
  • Header photo: Authorized birds eye view of the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition: Seattle, U.S.A., 1909. Image from the University of Washington Libraries Special Collections, Eugene M. Weaver Photographs.