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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.

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).

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.