Tuesday, January 23, 2007


This area is focused on collecting original sources from Western Europe and the Americas between the late Middle Ages and early 1900s. It includes: Bibles, sermons, prayer books, liturgical works, medieval and Renaissance manuscripts and early books, hymnody, psalmody and other sacred music, texts of writers including original works and works by women, periodicals of publications and religious organizations, local and church history as well as church records, biographies and autobiographies, religious and political tracts and pamphlets, sheet music and collections of family papers. These areas are particularly strong in the history of the Christian church, the history of learning, education and libraries, humanism, missions, religious practices, religious non-conformity, anti-slavery and abolitionism, Roman, Spanish and Spanish American Inquisitions, religious publishing and censorship, manuscripts and early printing and Utopian communities.

printing, book arts and the history of the book

The John M. Wing Foundation on the history of printing includes almost 100,000 volumes of technical literature, periodicals and the history of printing and book arts. It also has more than 600 cubic feet of printing and publishing-related archives, 650 calligraphic manuscripts with 2,100 printed volumes on calligraphy, 68,000 volumes of classified printing samples and more than 15,000 items of printed ephemera. The collection is strongest in areas of incunables, calligraphy, type specimens, products of Chicago printers, private press books and books and ephemera from Italy.

philippine history

The Newberry has a strong collection in Filipino immigration to the U.S. including commentaries from the 1920s and 30s on the pace of independence. The collection is focused in five main areas of Philippine history:

  • A large number of manuscripts from the Spanish period particularly from the 17th and 18th centuries.
  • Important materials on the origins of Filipino nationalism as well as documents of the Philippine Revolution against Spain.
  • Reports, bulletins and circulars from the American Civil Government from the Philippine-American War
  • More than 8,000 ethnological photos
  • Philippine linguistics and
  • Travel literature and maps of the Philippine islands

map and history of cartography collections

This collection is made up of several individual collections including atlases and the Edward E. Ayer, Franco Novacco Map, Johan Gabriel Sack Map, Everett D. Graff, Chicago Region Map and Roger S. Baskes collections. It also includes county, railroad and road maps. Documents involving discovery and exploration of the Americas are found in the Ayer collection; including 2,000 maps, 500 atlases and more than 300 manuscript maps. The Novacco collection holds over 700 16th and 17th century Italian maps. 900 maps covering trans-Mississippi Western history can be found in the Graff collection. The Chicago Region Map collection holds more than 800 artifacts of Chicago as well as Dupage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, Will and Cook counties between the years of 1779-2003. Finally, the Roger S. Baskes collection holds more than 12,000 books and over 400,000 maps included in atlases, travel guides and geography materials.

italian history and literature

More than 40 pre-1500 manuscripts and over 350 post-1500 manuscripts of Italian history are represented in this collection. Included are humanist manuscripts, music theory texts and books of hours. A notable artifact is a manuscript in roll form of a poem by Battista da Montefeltro-Malatesta. The post-1500 collection includes emblem books, music and liturgy, calligraphica, family papers, travel narratives, religious texts and political commentary. They have printing materials dating back from the 15th century. Along with the rich humanities represented in the collection, they also have over 800 maps printed in Italy during the 16th century; this collection is one of the strongest in the world and is supplemented by gifts and purchases.

Monday, January 22, 2007

continental european history and literature

This is one of the library’s strongest collections. They have materials from the 14th century to the Napoleonic era with strong representation of Italy, France and Germany. Spanish and Portuguese artifacts emphasize their imperial periods and include literary works, religious history and pamphlets. Switzerland, Austria and the Low Countries are represented but not as extensively as Italy, France and Germany. The library’s collection focuses on literature and cultural history with an emphasis on politics, theology, Romance and Germanic philology, education and the classics. They have around 300 medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, political treatises of all periods up to the French Revolution, humanism, French political pamphlets from the 16th and 17th centuries, French Revolutionary pamphlets, early works on military science and architecture, calligraphy, handwriting and shorthand books, emblem and courtesy books, dictionaries and encyclopedias, institutional history of Christian churches, religious non-conformity, Roman and Spanish Inquisitions and religious publishing and censorship.

british history

This collection contains artifacts from the Middle Ages through World War I. The collection contains publications of official bodies and national societies and a relatively complete account of national and local historical society publications. The library has books, pamphlets and manuscripts from 1559-1829, 19th century political pamphlets, 18th and 19th century periodicals, Irish history, local histories and records, travel literature, biography, autobiography and memoirs and the history of learning, education and libraries in Britain.

american indian history

This collection has been described as “perhaps the finest gathering of materials on American Indians in the world.” Over 17,000 sources of early contacts between American Indians and Europeans were donated in 1911 by Edward E. Ayer, for whom the collection is named. Since this donation, the Newberry has acquired 130,000 volumes, over 1 million manuscript pages, 2000 maps, 500 atlases, 11,000 photos and 3500 drawings and paintings regarding American Indians. The collection holds an emphasis on Native American archaeology, ethnology, art and language; the history of contact between Natives and Europeans; the history of voyages including accounts of early America; the development of cartography in the Americas; and the expanding western frontier of America.

african american studies

The African American studies collection at the Newberry has over 2000 books and pamphlets regarding the anti-slavery movement. The selection includes historical and genealogical society papers, newspapers and periodicals, county, city and state histories and music materials. They also have more than 2000 travel accounts to Africa dating from the 19th century. This includes a developed collection relating to Portugal’s exploration and colonization of Africa. The library also contains some accounts of the Afro-Latin experience in Mexico and Puerto Rico.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

special collections

The Newberry has special collections in 18 different topic areas including:
  • African American studies
  • American Indian history
  • British history
  • Continental European history and literature
  • Genealogy and local history
  • Italian history and literature
  • Maps and history of cartography
  • Philippine history
  • Printing, book arts and the history of the book
  • American history
  • American literature
  • British literature
  • French in the Americas
  • Historical linguistics
  • Latin American history
  • Music
  • Portuguese and Brazilian history, and
  • Religion

I will give a brief description of the collections in bold.

*NOTE: none of the images used are representative of the library's collection.

visiting the library...or at least the first floor

On Thursday, January 11, myself, as well as fellow classmates Liz, Monica and Kyle made our way to the Newberry to check out this distinguished library. However, upon arrival, we were informed by a guard that our visit would stop at the first floor. Because it is a research library with a huge selection of first edition books, manuscripts and other rare artifacts, one must have a legitimate reason to use the library. And, being students who just wanted to look around, didn't count as a good reason.

I was somewhat surprised that we were shut down; especially after reading on their website that they are "open to the public." I understand the importance of their materials, but it's not like we were asking to go into the stacks. We just wanted to see the library.

As crazy as it may seem, the first floor did have some to offer. There were two exhibit rooms worth the trip. They both dealt with the ancient Aztec empire. The first was full of books, texts and other writings from the empire. The other was a miniature city of historical Tenochitlan. It was complete with mini people, canoes, tents and Aztec temples.

So, despite not really fulfilling the goal of touring the library, we were able to get a bit out of our visit.

Link: http://www.newberry.org