"Pageant of Democracy" photographs, 1920  PDF

Overview of the Collection

"Pageant of Democracy" photographs
1920 (inclusive)
28 photographs, (1 box)
Collection Number
2011.82 (accession)
Photographs of the "Pageant of Democracy" Fourth of July performance in Woodland Park, Seattle, 1920
Museum of History & Industry, Sophie Frye Bass Library
Sophie Frye Bass Library
Museum of History & Industry
P.O. Box 80816
Seattle, WA
Telephone: 206-324-1126
Fax: 206-780-1533
Access Restrictions

The collection is open to the public by appointment.


Historical NoteReturn to Top

Seattle celebrated Independence Day in 1920 with a full day of events organized by a special committee appointed by Seattle Mayor Hugh M. Caldwell. Held on Monday July 5, the day's program opened in the morning with a parade down Second Avenue starting at Blanchard Street. With flags waving and bands playing, the column covered fifteen city blocks, and featured patriotic, civic, fraternal and labor organizations, as well as veterans and military groups. Organizations of the Central Labor Council occupied nearly half of the parade, and were escorted by "Uncle Sam" and "Joan of Arc" on horseback. The parade turned onto Yesler Way and disbanded at City Hall Park, where the crowd watched patriotic exercises, sang the "Star Spangled Banner," and listened to a reading of the Declaration of Independence. The crowd then disbursed to enjoy the rest of the day's celebrations at various parks and beaches across the city.

Thousands gathered for the full program of events in Woodland Park organized by the Central Labor Council. The arriving crowds of revelers taxed the street car service, in spite of the extra cars assigned to the run. The schedule started with a picnic at noon, and a "children's fairy land parade" thorugh the park at 1:30. At 2:30, spectators seated on the lawn before a stage watched a "Pageant of Democracy" which celebrated the history and promise of democracy across the globe.

Nearly all of those taking part in the "Pageant of Democracy" were members of organized labor unions, including women who worked as "Laundry girls, lady barbers, waitresses and bookbinders." The performers represented historical, allegorical and everyday figures related to the history of democracy, from ancient times to the present day. All 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence were played by members of organized labor, dressed in wigs and colonial era dress; of these men, four were direct descendants of the original signers. Others dressed as historical figures, including Abraham Lincoln and an ancient Greek man, as well as ordinary people from a variety of cultures. Nineteen nationalities joined in the closing scene of the pageant, titled "World Democracy for All."

After the pageant ended in the late afternoon, the day's program continued with sports events, including jiu-jitsu, fencing, and Swedish wrestling. From 6:45 to 8:45, revelers danced on the tennis courts and paved walks to music provided by Wagner's band. A water carnival took place at six o'clock on the Lake Union Canal, and a spectacular fireworks display over Green Lake after dark wrapped up the celebration.

Sources: Life and Labor by the National Women's Trade Union Leaders in America, 1921, p. 167; Seattle Daily Times, June 20, 1920 and July 6, 1920.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The collection is comprised of 28 black and white photographs of the "Pageant of Democracy" performed at Woodland Park as part of Seattle's Fourth of July celebration on July 5, 1920.

Fourteen of the photographs, by photographic firm Webster & Stevens, are backed with linen and bound into an album. This appears to be a sample album used by the firm for photo orders. The photographs were taken during the performance of the "Pageant of Democracy," and show performers on stage dressed as historical figures and allegorical figures representative of democracy and liberty, and dressed in traditional costumes of various nations. Two photographs show part of the crowd of spectators on the lawn in front of the stage.

The fourteen loose photographs, by photographer Joseph J. Kniesle, depict the same performers, though in most of these photos they are posing for the camera, either before or after the performance.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Alternative Forms Available

View selections from the collection in digital format by clicking on the hyperlinks in the inventory below.

Restrictions on Use

The Museum of History & Industry is the owner of the materials in the Sophie Frye Bass Library and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from MOHAI before any reproduction use. The museum does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners.

Preferred Citation

"Pageant of Democracy" photographs, Museum of History & Industry, Seattle

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Photograph album, 1920 July 5Return to Top

Webster & Stevens  ( photographer)
14 photographs : black & white ; 7 x 9.5 inches

These photos appear to have been taken during the performance of the pageant.

This is probably a sample album used to place photo orders. A sticker inside the front cover reads: "This book is the property of Webster & Stevens and is to be returned when order is completed."

Container(s) Description Dates
1 1920 July 5
.2:  Men in colonial period dress near table
These men, in breeches, long coats and wigs, are probably acting the parts of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.
Webster & Stevens number 79757
1920 July 5
.3:  Man dressed in ancient Greek costume standing at throne
Joined on stage by other actors in various costumes.
Webster & Stevens number 79749
1920 July 5
4 1920 July 5
5 1920 July 5
.6: duplicate of .4
7 1920 July 5
.8-.9: Group of men in colonial dress gathered around table
These men are probably reenacting the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
Webster & Stevens numbers 79755, 79760
1920 July 5
.10:  Crowd seated on lawn
Webster & Stevens number 79758
1920 July 5
.11:  Full cast of pageant on and in front of stage, with sign "For all humanity"
In this photograph, probably showing the closing scene of the pageant, a large group of costumed actors, including men, women and children, stand on the stage, with men in military uniforms in front of the stage. Young women with star headbands hold letters which spell "for all humanity."
Webster & Stevens number 79754
1920 July 5
12 1920 July 5
.13:  Woman representing Liberty holding American flag, with Native Americans in traditional dress and other characters
The woman is probably dressed as Marianne, a French allegorical figure representing Liberty, and a national emblem of France. She wears a Phrygian Cap, or Liberty Cap, which was adopted by French revolutionaries as a symbol of freedom.
1920 July 5
.14: Crowd seated on lawn
Webster & Stevens number 79759
1920 July 5

Loose photographs, 1920 July 5Return to Top

14 photographs : black and white ; 7 x 9 inches
Kniesle, Joseph J.  ( photographer)

Unlike the Webster & Stevens photographs, these photographs show actors in costume posing for the camera, rather than during the pageant performance.

Each photograph is captioned either "Pageant of Democracy" or "Labor's Pageant of Democracy" and "July 4, 1920." This date may be inaccurate, as newspapers of the time report the pageant to have taken place on Monday, July 5.

Container(s) Description Dates
2 1920 July 5
.16:  Man in ancient Greek dress holding American flag
Man is posed with three women also in ancient Greek dress, with other actors in costume in the background.
1920 July 5
4 1920 July 5
5 1920 July 5
.19:  Men and women on stage holding flags
This is probably the French flag, although the colors cannot be seen in this black and white photograph.
1920 July 5
.20:  Woman representing Liberty holding American flag posed with Native American in traditional costumes
Same women as in .13, probably dressed as Marianne, a French allegorical figure representing Liberty, and a national emblem of France.
1920 July 5
8 1920 July 5
.22: "Joan of Arc" on horseback with others on stage behind
1920 July 5
10 1920 July 5
.24: Crowd of spectators on lawn
1920 July 5
.25:  Young women in costume holding banners
The six banners read: "Free Press," "Free Speech," "Political Democracy," "Free Assembly," International Justice and Peace," and "Industrial Democracy."
1920 July 5
.26:  Woman and girl in outfits adorned with leaves
The woman in the photograph is carrying a parasol to which leafs are attached, as if representing autumn. She wears a dress, with a trailing drape bearing an unidentified coat of arms.
1920 July 5
14 1920 July 5
15 1920 July 5

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Clothing and dress--Russian
  • Costumes
  • Fourth of July celebrations
  • Historical pageants --Washington (State)--Seattle
  • Joan, of Arc, Saint, 1412-1431
  • Liberty cap
  • Uncle Sam (Symbolic character)
  • Corporate Names :
  • Central Labor Council of Seattle and Vicinity
  • Geographical Names :
  • Woodland Park (Seattle, Wash.)
  • United States--Washington (State)--Seattle
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Photographs
  • Other Creators :
    • Personal Names :
    • Kneisle, Joseph J. (creator)
    • Corporate Names :
    • Webster & Stevens (creator)