Thanks, Chicago History Journal!

Sharon Williams, who runs the Chicago History Journal, mentioned this site on her blog today! I’ve added her site to the “Links” list, if you want to check it out.

Here’s her excerpt:

“There’s a new blog on the Century of Progress Exhibition, but with a wonderful twist. While “snooping through a closet at my grandmother’s house” about 10 years ago, Kelly Cook found a treasure. It was an almost daily account, written by a family friend, of her then 12-year old grandmother’s journey from a small town in South Dakota and her visit to the 1933-34 Chicago World’s Fair. The letters are charming and filled with detail. You’ll enjoy Chicago 1934: A Trip to the Fair. Love them primary resources!”

We also have a link on her list of links, under “Century of Progress”. Thanks, Sharon!


About this site

1933-34 Chicago World's Fair poster
Chicago World’s Fair poster

I found these letters about 10 years ago while snooping through a closet at my grandmother’s house…I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.

In 1934, when my grandmother was 12, she took her first trip by train from her family’s South Dakota farm to the Chicago World’s Fair. This is the story of her adventure, told through letters written to my great-grandparents by Glen E. Shears, a family friend who saved change in a coffee can for two years to make her trip happen.

He was returning a favor. Sometime in the mid- to late-20s, when Glen was a teenager, he was running with a bad crowd in Chicago and his parents thought that “roughing it” on my great-grandparents’ cattle ranch in South Dakota might help get him back on the straight and narrow (his parents knew my grandmother’s parents through relatives who lived in Chicago at the time). My grandmother was about five or six when Glen visited their ranch. These summers with my grandmother’s family seem to have made an impact on Glen, because in 1933 he invited my grandmother to visit him and his family in Chicago during the World’s Fair to repay her family for their kindness. He wrote them about all the preparations for her visit, sent gifts and letters for Mary to open on the train (so she wouldn’t get bored), and even created a charming book to prepare her for her first trip on a train.

While my grandmother was in Chicago, Glen wrote letters almost daily to my great-grandparents to keep them informed about all their adventures. All in all, I believe this is probably one of the most complete records of the Chicago World’s Fair in 1934 that exists.

One request…if you have any information you could share about Glen Shears, please leave a comment or contact me at I believe Glen passed away in February 1985 in Sausalito, California. Through reading his letters, I almost feel like I know him…I would love to find out more about his life.