Reading Time: 2 minutes.


From February 21 through February 26, 1916 several agencies of the federal government conducted the First National Safety Exhibit at the New National Museum in Washington, D.C. The idea originated with the Buearu of Mines, but quickly gained support from several other agencies. An organizing committee quickly put the exhibition program together.

Special days emphasized the efforts of specific departments:

  • Monday, February 21: Department of Interior Day
  • Tuesday, February 22: War and Navy Department Day
  • Wednesday, February 23: Department of Agriculture Day
  • Thursday, February 24: Department of Labor Day
  • Friday, February 25: Department of Commerce Day
  • Saturday, February 26: Treasury Department Day.

There were illustrated lectured by federal experts each day featuring the work of each department.

There were exhibits from numerous federal agencies, including:

  • Treasury Department: Public Health Service and Coast Guard Service
  • War Department: Office of the Surgeon General
  • Navy Department: Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Bureau of Steam Engineering, Bureau of Ordnance, and Bureau of Construction and Repair
  • Department of Interior: Bureau of Mines, Bureau of Education, Geological Survey, Indian Office and Reclamation Service
  • Department of Agriculture: Weather Bureau and Forestry Service
  • Department of Commerce: Bureau of Standards, Coast and Geodetic Survey, Bureau of Lighthouses, Bureau of Navigation, and Steamboat Inspection Service
  • Department of Labor: Children’s Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • Bureau of Safety of the Interstate Commerce Commission

Other exhibitors included:

  • American Red Cross
  • Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, D.C.

Thousands of people visited the Exposition each day. The 10,000 visitors on Washington’s Birthday set a record. Attendees were citizens, government employees and school children.

President and Mrs. Woodrow Wilson spent a couple of hours touring the exhibits on February 24. His greatest interests were the booths of the Army Medical Corps that included first aid equipment and gas masks and the American Red Cross that showed field and base hospitals and trench warfare illustrations. He also took note of a demonstration of a new mine rescue apparatus, the first successful American design that was light weight and had unlimited oxygen supply.

In conjunction with the Exhibit, state Governors received invitations for their key agency employees to attend a two- day conference. Other attendees were representatives of insurance and other interested companies, including the American Museum of Safety. The focus was building cooperation among federal and state agencies for compiling mining statistics and standardization of reporting and classifying accidents.

The organizations planned and operated the events without a separate federal appropriation.



  • Safety, Volume 4, Number 4, April 1916, pages 93-94 (publication of the American Museum of Safety in New York City).

Pin It on Pinterest