From the Stacks
“From the Stacks” offers a regular helping of Newberry sustenance for the hungry intellectual. Every week or so, one of our hidden treasures, meticulous maps, or enduring ephemera will be featured, 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.
Ayer MS 3188
In February of 1864, Chief Wanzopeah of the Miami West addressed a letter to President Abraham Lincoln. “My Father,” he begins, “I have not bothered you for the last ten years and now I have one little favor to ask.”
Midwest MS Rodgers, Box 1, Folder 15
Not much is known about Washington Hall, the African American slave author of three 1836 letters to his wife, Jemima Hall. Hall’s owner was Levi F. Hall, a large landowner near Florida, Missouri, who had ten slaves in 1840 and probably produced cash crops like hemp and tobacco. When Levi Hall died in 1841, his son took over the farm and continued to own slaves. Whether Washington Hall was among them is not known.
Midwest MS McCutcheon, Box 13, Folder 382
Cartoons satirizing pretentious residents of New York reached an apotheosis with Saul Steinberg’s celebrated 1976 New Yorker cover, “View of the World from 9th Avenue.” Beyond the Hudson River lies a visual approximation of a certain provincialism: an empty plane populated by words recognizable as place names but without any distinctive characteristics.
Case 4A 878
In 1865, Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson—better known by his nom de plume, Lewis Carroll—delighted readers with the topsy-turvy world of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. A first edition of this fantastical classic, one of 23 surviving copies, sits on the Newberry shelves. Why is this particular edition so rare? Because, and much to its illustrator’s chagrin, it is littered with unintended content. It contains 42 off-color drawings by Sir John Tenniel.
Wing MSZW 645.K29
The Newberry’s John M. Wing Foundation on the History of Printing and the Book Arts is one of the world’s leading resources in the field, with strengths that include calligraphy, design, the history of book collecting, and the history of libraries. Esther Inglis’s 1606 miniature calligraphic manuscript, A New Yeeres Gvift, which never fails to amaze readers, is relevant to all of these categories.