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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.

Union Do's and Don'ts: Pullman Porters Unite

A. Philip Randolph

Case Pullman 06/01/04, Box 17, Folder 490

The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP), the first African American labor union in the United States, was established by A. Philip Randolph in August 1925 in New York City. In this document, Randolph threatened, in no uncertain terms, African American Pullman employees who sided against the BSCP.

Be My Vinegar Valentine

Case Wing oversize NC 1866 .V3 M6 Box 8

Valentine’s Day is known as an occasion for exchanging loving sentiments. Whether you send flowers, chocolates, or a handwritten card, these gifts express feelings of adoration for their recipient. But this mode of address has not been immune from more irreverent sensibilities. The Newberry’s newest exhibition, Love on Paper, demonstrates the ways in which the valentine tradition has not always been so saccharine and sweet.

The Art of the Christmas Card

Gleeson White

Wing folio ZC 5 .973

Magazine editor and art critic Gleeson White was already experiencing holiday-card fatigue by the end of the nineteenth century. He estimated that at least 200,000 Christmas-card designs had been published in England alone at that time. “How many thousand patterns have passed under my eye,” he sighed in the introduction to his pamphlet Christmas Cards and Their Chief Designers, “I dare not estimate.”

Pass the Squirrel, Please: Thanksgiving in 1870

VAULT broadside Graff 1275

While many think of Thanksgiving Day as a timeless American tradition, it did not become the federal holiday celebrated on a late November Thursday until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War. The Newberry's Graff Collection includes the printed menu for the Thanksgiving Day meal served seven years later, on November 24, 1870, at Chicago's Everett House hotel, located at the corner of Clark and Van Buren streets.

The Good Dracula Name

Bram Stoker

Case 3A 2531

The Newberry’s 1899 copy of Dracula was the first American edition of the iconic novel, and the first to depict the Count’s now-notorious castle on its cover. Inside, the pages are uncreased and unmarked—unmarked, that is, save for a letter pasted inside the front cover and written by Bram Stoker himself.

Campaign Mudslinging: An American Tradition since (at Least) 1828

John Binns

F 83 .657 v. 10

The Newberry's "coffin handbills" were part of a Whig campaign to smear Democrat Andrew Jackson's reputation in the run-up to the 1828 U.S. presidential election. The election was one of the nastiest the country had seen.

The Map Thief Map

Ralph Hall

map1F G3880 1636 .H3 (PrCt)

Tucked away in a humble, notebook-sized folder, this 1635 map of Virginia—by Ralph Hall, working from a copy of John Smith’s 1612 map of the region—might seem unremarkable. Its life at the Newberry, though, has been anything but ordinary.

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).