The Red Record: Souvenir of "The Triumph of Man" | Transcript with audio!

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The red vinyl 33 1/3 RPM recording of "The Triumph of Man" has become one of he most prolific and popular collectibles from the Fair!

Read along and LISTEN to the soundtrack of the The Travelers exhibit. Your on-line souvenir of the Fair!


Man lives in a world of violence and danger. History is a record of his struggle to survive. For more than a million and a half years man has faced threats that would have crushed a lesser being. He had to learn to use his mind and discipline his body. He had to discover the world of the spirit; develop science and technology; fight hostile creatures; battle the elements; invent language; devise patterns of organization; create art, architecture, literature and law. Slowly, at times painfully, man has done all these things and more. True, he has been capable of brutality and heedlessness. But he has inched himself forward, picking himself up when he has fallen, repairing the damage of destruction, pushing forward the frontiers of his knowledge and insight.

Man has always striven to protect what he loves. He has sacrificed himself for a principle or an ideal; for his family or for his nation. His instinct for self preservation has been altered by his determination to place the objects of his love above himself. This is the triumph of man.

Over the ages there have been certain crucial episodes which have changed the entire course of man's history. The Travelers exhibit at the New York World's Fair presents thirteen of the most significant of these events. There is, of course, room for a difference of opinion as to the merits of their selection. Literally thousands of important incidents could have been presented with equal validity. It might, in fact, prove highly entertaining as well as enlightening, for you to list your own "top thirteen" of the most significant "triumphs of man."

The purpose of The Travelers exhibit is not to limit man's achievement but to celebrate it. The episodes chosen are only symbolic. They are intended to enlarge not circumscribe your awareness of history. In words, in music, in visual artistry, we take you on the long journey your ancestors have taken before you. It has been a hard, dangerous journey but a glorious one. We hope you will enjoy this experience of reliving The Triumph of Man.

Script by Robert P. Davis
Narration by Peter Thomas
Original Score by Frank Ledlie Moore
Performed by the Hartford Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Fritz Mahler



Welcome to The Travelers Insurance Companies exhibit. You are about to start on an unforgettable journey. A journey across two and a half billion years of life on earth. You are going to walk through the history of man. You will be with him as he meets his greatest challenges. For this is your story. The Triumph of Man.


The Dawn of Man

This is East Africa and man; your ancestor of a million and a half years ago. He is ape-like. Clothed in coarse hair. But he stands upright. He can think. He can learn. Early man uses rocks and clubs to kill animals for food. He fashions small stone tools to help him cut through tough hides. His world is violent; cruel. But he survives. And this simple pebble tool is the beginning of a technology which will take man to the stars.


The Discovery of Fire

For a million years man faces life like the animals with only primitive tools to help. Man has long known of fire but he runs from it in fear. Then, man discovers he can use this energy. The small flames light his night. He is able to cook. With fire man can now live in colder climates and he inhabits more of the earth. In northern China two hundred and fifty thousand years ago we find man gathering his family around the fire. The hearth has remained, ever since, the symbol of home.


The Origins of Art

A quarter of a million years go by. Man is now aware of a world beyond his own senses. A world of emotion. Imagination. The supernatural. The succession of day and night; the rhythm of the seasons; the pattern of life and death are mysteries he tries to understand. These cavemen hope to exert a magical power over the animals by painting their images. Out of man's desire to influence forces beyond himself a simple religion arises in the hostile world of twenty-five thousand years ago.


The Beginning of Agriculture

Man moves over hills and past far rivers in search of game. Then on a warm spring day he plants his first seeds. The grain grows. And, again, his life changes. With agriculture the hazardous nomadic life of hunting flows into a more settled existence. It is eight thousand years ago. Man is building small villages. He domesticates animals; develops crafts like weaving and pottery. The earth yields. Man stores his surplus, protecting himself against starvation. Society becomes more complex as man begins to organize himself and those around him.


The First City

You are standing on a wall of the city of Ur in Mesopotamia four thousand years ago. Great walled cities are man's answer to population increase. Surplus grows into wealth and wealth encourages war. Man attacks man. Ramparts shake. The clash of battle echoes through long days of the Bronze Age. Man increases his power and knowledge. He invents government, commerce, architecture, writing and taxes. Over and over again he fights to protect what is his. And out of destruction man rebuilds and moves forward.


The Grandeur of Rome

Homer has said his words. The Hebrew prophets have spoken. To the east, whole civilizations have come and gone. Now the Roman Empire spreads across the western world. It is a triumph of technology and culture. Rome sets the pace for western civilization. Our laws and the organization of our government go back to the days of the Forum. But another great endowment emerges from these years as the Apostles travel the Mediterranean bringing a new message to man. It is a message of hope. Of a power stronger than weapons. A wealth more lasting than the coins of Caesar.


Civilization in Peril

These are the Plains of Chalons in eastern France more than fifteen hundred years ago. The Roman Empire is under attack. The earth trembles to the hoof beats of charging horses. Attila bursts out of the Balkans to ram his savage troops through all of Europe. Here at Chalons, Attilla meets two Roman armies head-on. In five hours, one hundred six thousand men fall. The barbarian horde retreats. Western civilization is saved from extinction. But this is a struggle that will be repeated again and again as man learns that what he cherishes he must protect.


The Black Death

A city in Europe six hundred years ago. A church bell tolls. The death wagon rolls through cobbled streets. People cough and convulse. Crowding; lack of sanitation have brought the dreaded plague. The life of the Medieval city with its commerce, its art and architecture, is one of the triumphs of man. But out of the swarming streets come recurrent disease and disaster. Slowly, man learns the nature of epidemic. He discovers its treatment and prevention. With the health of the people safeguarded man's great cities will grow and flourish.


The Voyage of Man's Mind

The desire to know the secrets of the universe is almost as old as man himself. The Chinese, Arabs and Greeks have all explored the realm of science. But the real awakening comes as the Renaissance spreads through Europe five hundred years ago. The writings of Copernicus, a Polish monk, inspire a whole new way of scientific thinking. He says that the sun, not the earth, is the center of the universe. Old superstitions and beliefs are shattered. Copernicus and his fellow scientists launch man on a voyage of the mind that will take him beyond the limits of his dreams.


The Journey to the New World

Man's restless spirit urges him to discover what lies beyond the far horizons. But he fears the unknown edges of the world and his ships sail close to shore. Columbus has another idea and he heads three small ships out into the unknown sea. Food supplies dwindle. Mutiny threatens. But after thirty-six days Columbus sights San Salvador; America. Columbus and the brave adventurers like him snap the physical bounds of man. Their voyages change the whole course of earth's history.


The Taming of a Continent

It is three hundred years after Columbus. Pioneers journey west across the new world leaving the comfort and security of home; cutting paths over the Appalachians, moving deep into the heart of the continent. The world begins to hear about the American spirit. The tough, self-reliance of individuals in a free society. Our hearts still beat for the Daniel Boones, the sod busters, the Ohio River flat boatmen. Their vision of democracy is ours. The wilderness is not yet tamed. Ahead of us there will always be a frontier. An endless challenge to the heart and mind of man.


The American Crisis

The Civil War presents the greatest threat to our nation. A grave moral issue is at stake. But the thunder dies. And as the smoke clears from Vicksburg, Pickett's Ridge, Chancelorsville; the nation's reborn. We are one people under God moving ahead together united and free. Slowly, the wounds of the Civil War heal but the scars remain. We reaffirm that in unity there is strength and that the American contribution to man's triumph is the unfaltering spirit of liberty. The endless struggle for the right of all men to live together in peace and freedom.


Man's Leap to the Stars

The earth travels around the sun one hundred times. The pace of human accomplishment accelerates incredibly. More is achieved in this brief one hundred years than in all the other ages combined. In a blaze of discovery, man's mind penetrates inner space seeking the very basis of all life. He explores outer space, freeing himself from the planet which has held him for almost two million years. This is man's nature. Where there is truth, he must find. Where there is danger he must overcome. Where there is destruction, he must rebuild. Where there is love, he must protect. This is the triumph of man.

The story of man's progress from his early beginnings to our own age is a long, complicated story and anyone might wonder how it could possibly be encompassed in the 13 scenes that make up The Travelers Exhibit at the New York World's Fair "The Triumph of Man." The answer is that it is not meant to display the complete story; no single exhibit of this kind could do that. It is rather a carefully chosen series of scenes or episodes that illustrate significant achievements or triumphs in man's struggle to understand himself and the world about him and to solve the problems that have at times threatened to destroy what he had accomplished.

The problems facing those who designed and created the series of dioramas were difficult ones. First of all, there was the matter of space. Each scene or episode required a minimum of square footage to do it justice. And with the most careful planning, the designers could accommodate no more than thirteen of them. Since two of these had necessarily to be reserved for the beginning and end of the sequence, it left eleven available for all the rest.

Dozens of possibilities, all with strong claims for their use, were examined, but only those survived that seemed best to mark the major turning points and the most fundamental achievements. The basic role of science in shaping modern life, for example, could not be omitted. It is symbolized here by the monk, Copernicus, who first questioned the earth centered view of our universe and opened men's minds to the fresh investigation of nature that eventually led to the great triumphs of modern science. The shift from the ancient and primitive hunting economy to agriculture was a development in prehistoric times, but one that nevertheless made all subsequent progress toward civilization possible. The emergence of a social organization that permitted men to live in large urban centers where architecture, specialized skills of a high order, commerce, writing and many other by-products of civilization could flourish, also marks another turning point.

The remainder were all chosen for similar reasons. But clearly there is no general consensus on such decisions, either as to number or theme. Values and judgments vary in the reading of history and pre-history, and perhaps no two students might select exactly the same thirteen scenes, even though many might appear on every list. But if this particular sequence touches the imagination of the viewer, opens his mind to the grandeur of the human experiment, and gives him a sense of the potentiality that exists in man, the exhibit will have accomplished its purpose.

Harry L. Shapiro, PhD.
Chairman, Dept. of Anthropology
The American Museum of Natural History

webmasters note: Mike Harrison reports: I thought you might be interested to know that the man whose voice took visitors through the exhibit ... is the legendary Peter A. Thomas, who was one of the original news anchors for CBS Television, even before the late Walter Cronkite. In the early 1960s, Peter's voice became so in-demand for commercial and narration work that he left CBS to do voice-over work full-time. And he still works today: in addition to various commercials and documentaries, Peter has been the narrator of 'Forensic Files,' seen on TRU-TV (formerly Court TV), since the series began. Mike Harrison, via email 3/10/2010.

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webmasters note: I would like to extend a sincere THANK YOU to Bradd Schiffman for the many materials he lent and the time he spent toward the creation of the Travelers Insurance pages at He has also been an invaluable resource for the audio found on these and other pages. Many thanks, Bradd.

Bill Young
July, 2017


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