Medieval, Renaissance, and Early Modern Studies

Gramhart, Allemodisch Stambuch, Newberry Wing ZP 647. R755, f.15r.
Gramhart. Allemodisch Stambuch. Wing ZP 647. R755, f.15r.

The Newberry collection is rich in European printed and manuscript sources from 1300 to 1800. Italy, France, and England are best represented, but the holdings are also strong for Spain, Portugal, Germany, the Low Countries, and the Americas.

The Center for Renaissance Studies enacts programming, including fellowships and seminars, that allows participants to draw from the Newberry’s collections in their research. Newberry librarians have created Research Guides in certain subject areas to support research at the Newberry; several medieval, Renaissance, and early modern-related guides are below.

For late medieval, Renaissance, and early modern studies, the Newberry collections are especially outstanding in six subject areas:

Early Modern Colonialism (French, English, Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese)
Including maps, travel, exploration, and settlement; ethnography; indigenous languages; missions; colonial histories; music and dance; natural history; and law and sovereignty.

Humanism, Education, and Rhetoric
Including history of learned institutions; historiography, historical theory, and philosophy of history; editions of classical authors; neo-latin literature; courtesy books; emblem books; language textbooks, grammars; and dictionaries, encyclopedias.

Maps, Travel, and Exploration
Including manuscript maps (including portolan charts); printed atlases from Ptolemy onward; voyages and travel narratives; and separately printed maps.

Music and Dance
Including theory and instructional books; psalmody and hymnody, vocal performance; polyphonic performance; lute books; opera scores, opera librettos; and music and dance notation.

History of the Book
Including medieval manuscripts, incunables; calligraphy, type specimens, bindings; specimen imprints from major presses; printing and paper processes and technology.

Including reform and Reformation; recusancy and Jansenism; sermons, devotions, and controversial literature; church history and canon law; theology, doctrine, and liturgy; scripture and scripture commentaries; hebraica; and missionary efforts.

Other strengths
Including French political pamphlets; British local history and heraldry; British political pamphlets, broadsides, and prints; eighteenth-century periodicals (especially British and French); languages, historical linguistics, and philology; biographies; works by women writers in all genres; archival materials for Italy, Portugal, and Spanish Empire; and gypsy lore, Arthuriana.

See also the listing of Medieval, Renaissance, and Early Modern Studies Collection Strengths - in Geographical Terms.

The most thorough guide to the Newberry’s medieval manuscripts is Paul Saenger’s Catalogue of the Pre-1500 Western Manuscript Books at the Newberry Library (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989). Guides to Pre-1500 European Manuscripts and Post-1500 European Manuscripts are also available online, as is a bibliography of publications about the Newberry’s Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts.

Please call the reference desk at (312) 255-3506 with questions on our holdings, or Contact a Librarian with research questions.

Digital Resources

Below is a list of related digital resources.

The Capirola manuscript is a beautiful example of Renaissance lute tablature that has recently been made available online by the Programme Ricercar through the Center for Renaissance Studies at the University of Tours, France. This resource is in French with no English translation.

Newberry Digital Collections for the Classroom are thematic collections of primary source documents selected from the Newberry’s extensive holdings.

This exhibition explores the life and reign of Elizabeth I, examining how her unique personality was forged and why her legend has endured.

Humanism For Sale concerns the ways books were written, designed, printed, and marketed for schools in Renaissance Italy.