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From the Stacks

“From the Stacks” offers a regular helping of Newberry sustenance for the hungry intellectual. Learn about one of our hidden treasures, meticulous maps, or enduring ephemera, highlighting the resonance between the Newberry’s 125 years of collecting and the timely—and timeless—issues of today. These items, covering a wide range of subject matter and form, are presented here in all their scholarly pathos and quirky splendor.

Over There—Not So Different from Over Here

Case Wing oversize D522.25 .W67 1914 no. 96

The Great War marked a pivotal shift in the lives of African Americans. As American industry ramped up to meet wartime demands and droves of young people joined the U.S. military, new economic opportunities drew hundreds of thousands of African Americans from the South to industrial centers in the North. Between 1916 and 1920, during what became known as the Great Migration, 50,000 black southerners relocated to Chicago, where they accounted for 20 percent of the wartime meat-packing labor force (to take just one example).

What Will Replace the Trains?

Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company

CB&Q 32.9: Box 117, Folder 923

Though automobiles were already, by the 1920s, becoming the preferred form of transportation for short trips between American cities, trains remained the most convenient and efficient way to cover larger distances. The railroads preserved their competitive advantage in this area in part through the promotion of tourism.

A Book Fair Find Enters the Collection

Willis Fletcher Johnson

Wing ZP 883 .E2575

The Newberry holds two editions of this work in the Edward E. Ayer Collection, as one might expect in a renowned collection on the history and culture of American Indians. But a third copy was recently added to the Newberry’s John M. Wing Foundation on the History of Printing, for its relevance as an artifact of the publishing industry.

Life and Theft in Bughouse Square

Wallace Willits/John Drury

John Drury-Marion Neville Papers. Box 25, Folder 681.

John Drury was a writer for the Chicago Daily News, from 1926 to 1944. He often covered Chicago street life. In compiling notes for “Towertown,” an unpublished inventory of the near north side, Drury typed out the length of an article by Wallace Willits, as if performing a ritual of historical memory. Willits’s piece, printed October 4, 1921, in the Daily News, celebrates Bughouse Square (officially, Washington Square Park), located directly across the street from the Newberry Library.

Fathers Say

Author unknown

Case B 692 .007

This 1688 edition of an advice book originally published in 1664 promises to instruct the child addressee in "how to demean himself in the most important passages of this life." Modern readers may see "demean" and assume the anonymous author is a dispenser of tough love—or of a shame-based, if culturally mediated, form of child rearing. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, however, during the early modern period the word commonly referred to any kind of behavior. It was completely neutral in tone: you either demeaned thyself well or poorly.

One Nation, in a Single Broadsheet

Humphrey Phelps

Case Oversize E166 .U557 1847

The United States at One View presents a patriotic portrait of an expanding nation through statistics, charts, lists, and symbols. Humphrey Phelps (1799–1875), an entrepreneurial New York editor and publisher of popular maps, travelers’ guides, atlases, and gazetteers, synthesized data readily available in these genres to compile the broadside. Displayed most likely in post offices, banks, schools, and taverns, the sheet would have reached a wider audience than most books or maps of the period.

The Infant Shakespeare

George Romney

Case oversize YS 65 .11

In 1786 the engraver and publisher John Boydell (1720-1804) devised a plan for an ambitious edition of Shakespeare’s plays with illustrations by the best artists in England. Financing the project entirely himself, he commissioned painters to create works inspired by Shakespeare, and planned a gallery to exhibit the paintings. The Shakespeare Gallery opened in 1789 in Pall Mall, and the first set of engravings based on the paintings was issued in 1791.

Consort to Use Choirbooks for May Concert

VAULT oversize Case MS 5148

One of the Newberry’s great music treasures is a set of manuscript choirbooks that were created for the use of the nuns in the former convent of the Encarnación in Mexico City, which was founded in the Renaissance and dissolved in the mid-nineteenth century. The books were donated to the Newberry in 1899 by Charles Hutchinson, then-president of the Art Institute of Chicago, upon his return from a trip to Mexico. For more than seven decades, the church or monastery in which the books had been used remained unknown.

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