Exploring the Newberry's Collections

Exploring the Newberry's Collections

This week, I’ll present the three Digital Collections for Classroom Use on which I have been working all fall: Chicago Workers during America’s Long Gilded Age; Wives and Wenches, Sinners and Saints: Women in Medieval Europe; and Dissent and Democracy in U.S. History, 1880–1920. The titles alone give you a sense of the wide-ranging subjects I’ve had the opportunity to research over the past few months. One week, I (gently) turned the pages of a fifteenth-century illuminated manuscript, marveled at its lavish ornamentation and still-brilliant blues and reds, and puzzled over some of its contents. In Le Miroir de Humaine Salvation (c. 1455), for example, Eve is lured to her fate by a serpent with a woman’s face and breasts, a common trope, apparently, in medieval and early modern texts. “While Adam was busy by himself,” the text reads, “this foe, knowing that Eve was weak, credulous, and less prudent than her husband, appeared to her with sweet words honeyed with the most venomous poison.” Hmm. The next week, I found myself holding a thin, plain pamphlet the size of my hand. It was Margaret Sanger’s What Every Girl Should Know (1922), a still-resonant call to provide young women and men with accurate, comprehensive information about sex, anatomy, venereal disease, and birth control. “I have more faith in the force of love,” Sanger wrote. “I believe that two people convinced that they love each other and desire to live together will talk as frankly of their own health and natures as they do today of house furnishings and salaries. Their love for each other will protect them from ill health and disease.” From the medieval Eve to Sanger’s Every Girl—what distances I travel in the Newberry’s reading rooms.

 Please take the time to examine excerpts from these texts and others in the Digital Collections PDFs posted at http://publications.newberry.org/teacherdocs/dcc/. In just over a month, our new website will launch with full browse, search, and download capability. Stay tuned.

Posted by Hana Layson, Digital Collections Coordinator

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