Richard Barnhart of Daly City has been named the Henry Madden Library Donor of the Year. Barnhart, a lifelong collector of world’s fair materials from 1851 to the present, donated his entire collection to the Special Collections Research Center at California State University, Fresno earlier this year.

He previously donated the world’s fair research files of George R. Leighton, a journalist and editor who had tried to publish a book on the history of world’s fairs in the 1960s.

Barnhart’s gift expands the Donald G. Larson Collection on International Expositions and Fairs to the present, adding those that have occurred since 1940.

Barnhart was honored at a library event Nov. 14. Also recognized was Donald Larson, who donated his own extensive world’s fair collection in 1973. He was named the Madden Library’s first Advocate of the Year for 2008. It was through Larson that Barnhart’s gift was secured. Their 34-year friendship and shared interest in world’s fair were celebrated at the event.

Barnhart’s two collections represent more than 32 boxes. They contain thousands of items, including guidebooks, posters, postcards, correspondence, official reports, rarely-seen photographs and memorabilia from all international expositions from the Great Exhibition in London, 1851, to the World Expo in Aichi, Japan, 2005.

In addition, the gift includes rare, original planning documents from fairs that were never held, such as one contemplated in celebration of the U.S. Bicentennial in Boston, 1976, and another in Long Beach in 1967-68. Also in the Madden collection are materials from the Palace of Fine Arts League, which worked to restore the Palace (built for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition) in San Francisco in the 1960s, and from the 2000 Universal Exhibition in Hannover, Germany.

“We are honored that Richard Barnhart chose to donate his most valued collection to us,” said Tammy Lau, head of the Madden Library’s Special Collections Research Center. “It means a lot to us that a donor like Richard puts such trust and faith in our ability to preserve his collection and make it available to the research world in the many years to come.”

Lau also praised Larson, who she said, “tirelessly helps us promote our world’s fair collection and has been a key player in many projects.”

For more information, contact Lau at 559.278.2595 or