Skip to main content

Get Started


  • Share


The Industrial Revolution brought unprecedented change to the Western world. It was an age of accelerated advancement spurred on by a unquenchable thirst for innovation and a new lust for progress. Nowhere was this more evident than at the Great Exhibition of 1851.

Conceived and designed as a spectacular display of manufacturing achievements, the Great Exhibition of 1851 was attended by six million people attracted to the 8,200 exhibitors' "modern" wares. Joseph Paxton's enormous Crystal Palace, built from 900,000 square feet of glass to house the exposition, is testimony to the scale of the event's ambition and success.

Although mostly supported by British vendors, foreign nations were an integral part of the event. The vast cross-section of products exhibited from the nations of the world was a profound statement of what many believed healthy competition, free trade, and general political stability could achieve. More than any previous exposition, this event provided a tremendous opportunity for comparisons of leading products and new innovations, and catalyzed subsequent advancements. These technological advancements were detailed in the exhibitors' prospectuses.

The Great Exhibition of 1851: Prospectuses of Exhibitors provides insight into the design, technological innovations, business activities, and marketing of the time. Comprising nearly 900 individual prospectuses from businesses around the world, the collection is divided into four general categories: raw materials, machinery, manufactures, and fine arts. Within these categories, the material has been organized into 30 classes. Prospectuses are included on the following types of products.

Raw Materials

  • mining and mineral products
  • chemical and pharmaceutical products
  • substances used as food
  • vegetable and animal substances used in manufactures


  • machines for direct use (carriages, railways, etc.)
  • manufacturing machines and tools
  • civil engineering, architecture, and building contrivances
  • naval architecture, military engineering, guns, weapons, etc.
  • agricultural and horticultural machines and implements
  • philosophical and horological instruments
  • musical instruments
  • surgical instruments


  • woolen & worsted, mixed fabrics
  • leather, saddlery, boots and shoes, skins, fur, hair
  • paper, printing, and bookbinding
  • tapestry, floor cloths, lace, and embroidery
  • cutlery, edge, and hand tools
  • general hardware including locks and grates works in precious metals, jewelry, etc. glass
  • china, porcelain, earthenware, etc. furniture, upholstery, paper hangings, papier mache, and Japanned goods

Fine Arts

  • sculpture, models and plastic art, enamels, etc.

The prospectuses are a major source for students and scholars researching the historical aspects of economics, business, music, agriculture, architecture, sociology, and communications.

Support & Training

ProQuest offers best-in-class customer service, technical support, and training so you can hit the ground running with your ProQuest products and leverage everything they can do.

Access Support Center

Related Products


A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century

Eight-volume English edition reprinted in two volumes; two very scarce volumes of the German edition, which were not translated into English, reprinted in a separately available third volume.

Learn More


A Concordance to the Poems of Dylan Thomas

Romantic. Affirmative. Rhetorical. The poetry of Dylan Thomas urged readers to ponder life as they never had before. Researchers now have access to a concordance and word list keyed to the 1978 printing of Dylan Thomas: The Poems, edited by Daniel Jones.

Learn More


A People at War

Letters, diaries, memoirs, and other personal papers from the Civil War holdings of the Library of Congress. Edited by John R. Sellers.

Learn More


Lessons from the Chifley Library Flood

How an Australian library is rebuilding after losing an entire floor in an unprecedented natural disaster.

Learn More

On Her 100th Birthday, a Holocaust Survivor Looks Back

Honoring victims of Nazism and exploring learning opportunities on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Learn More