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Knoxville Shoebox | The World's Fair collection

People sent the Knoxville History Project over 1,000 photos from the 1982 World's Fair.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Knoxville Shoebox was created with one intention: to make memories tangible. It collects photos, newspaper clippings and memorabilia to paint a picture of the city's past.

According to historians Paul James and Jack Neely with the Knoxville History Project, the Shoebox initiative has been very successful. 

In August, these historians asked the public to send pictures from the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville. They ended up getting over a thousand pictures in return. 

"So many people have really terrific fond memories of the 1980s World's Fair," James said.

"We're trying to figure out after 40 years, what was the history, what was the history made here?" Neely said.

Within the 1,000 pictures, the historians were able to uncover pictures from every single pavilion. However, some were more photographed than others.

"It was also really interesting just from the number of photographs that people shared, which appear to be the most popular pavilions that people at least took photographs that off," James said.

Out of all the pictures, the China pavilion seemed to pique the most interest back in 1982.

"The China pavilion was amazingly popular and we know that because so many people queued up for hours and hours, but we had a lot of great photographs depicting the China pavilion both inside and out," James said.

Other countries in Asia piqued interest as well, including Korea and Japan.

One surprise to the team was the lack of photos from the European Union, or as it was known in 1982, the European Economic Community.

"We didn't really have many photographs of that pavilion, the same with Great Britain or Germany. Some of the other pavilions were not photographed as much," James said.

Each one of the photos that was sent in was digitized and uploaded to a public Flickr account. The Knoxville History Project wants people across the globe to be able to view this collection.

Credit: Doka Howell/ Knoxville History Project

"I just want to thank everybody in the community that has shared images of the past with us to share with everyone I was Knoxville," James said.

You can view the albums of photos on Flickr: Knoxville History Project.

Historian Jack Neely also typed up a recap of the fair, looking back 40 years later.

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