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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.

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.

Think Spring

American Tobacco Company

Midwest MS Farrell - Paturis, Box 4, Folder 71

The T206 series of baseball cards, known informally as the “White Border” set, was enclosed by the American Tobacco Company in cigarette and loose tobacco packs from 1909 to 1911. Each card features a color lithographic portrait of a major- or minor-league player surrounded by a white border. On the versos are advertisements for company brands, including Sweet Caporal, Piedmont, and Sovereign. The cards have long been popular with collectors due to their rarity and the quality of the lithographs.

A Civil War Valentine

George Deal

VAULT Case MS 10030, Box 1, Folder 9

On January 30, 1863, George Deal, a Union Army soldier in Company K of the 20th Ohio Regiment, sent his wife, Sarah, a letter and a valentine (pictured here). Very likely illiterate, Deal dictated his letters to fellow soldiers, some of whom introduce themselves to Sarah in the letters.

“I will send you this valentine just because I thought it was nice,” the letter reads. “I know you will keep it till (sic) I come home if I am so permitted. I would be glad to see you all, even the cat, but I must close as I have told you about all I can think of at this time.”

A Priory Story

4A 7028

The Masterpiece Theater production “Downton Abbey,” the fourth season of which premiers in January, has inspired many with a new fascination for England’s great houses. This week’s selection from the stacks, an auction catalog for August 11, 1834, gives insight into the story of one such great house: Lee Priory. The building is particularly remarkable because for 10 years in the early nineteenth century, it housed a private printing press.

Neuer Americanischer Calendar

VAULT Ayer AY851 .Z7 1751

This beautiful German calendar, with a binding that includes leaves tied with twine along the spine, is highlighted by a woodcut vignette of Christopher Columbus, looking out a window with his navigational instruments, on its cover. Calendars inside include black and red symbols for tracking the planets, the moon, the zodiac, and weather conditions, and auspicious times for planting, chopping timber, cutting hair, even trimming fingernails. It also includes saints’ days, astrological information, and a calendar of market days for a variety of towns and villages.

The "Noble Experiment" Ends

John T. McCutcheon

McCutcheon Box 19, Folder 568

“An obvious flop, Prohibition nonetheless continued to hang on until the onset of the Depression and the election of Franklin Roosevelt,” wrote Chicago Tribune journalist Rick Kogan in an essay for the book Chicago Days. “Its final undoing came at the hands of Utah, which became the 36th state to ratify repeal in the form of the 21st Amendment.”

Passed on December 5, 1933, that amendment contains two short but important sentences:

Talking Turkey for 150 Years

Winslow Homer

Folio A5 .392 v. 8

In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln declared that the third Thursday of November would, for the first time, be a national “day of Thanksgiving and Praise” to honor the “sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” of the Civil War.


Edward Everett

Case Y 2275 .E92

Published in 1864, one year after the consecration of the National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, this book includes the full program of events at the consecration ceremony along with a plan for the cemetery. Compiled by orator and politician Edward Everett—who also spoke at the ceremony—the book includes what is believed to be the first appearance of President Abraham Lincoln’s landmark speech, here called a “dedicatory address,” now simply known as the Gettysburg Address. Lincoln delivered the 272-word speech on November 19, 1863.