The Newberry Honors David McCullough, Exceeds $25 Million Campaign Goal

125th Anniversary Event Raises $650,000 for Library

Board Chair Victoria J. Herget Presents The Newberry Award to David McCullough
Board Chair Victoria J. Herget Presents The Newberry Award to David McCullough
May 2013

What a night for Chicago’s Newberry.

Before a crowd of more than 400 people that included Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago-area teachers and students, Newberry Board of Trustees Chair Victoria J. Herget presented The Newberry Library Award to renowned historian David McCullough. But before doing so she had another announcement: the Newberry has exceeded its $25 million fundraising campaign goal.

“It was an honor to present The Newberry Library Award to David McCullough for his profound commitment to scholarship and his contribution to the humanities; to be able to do so as we successfully end both our campaign and our 125th year is a unique privilege and a great pleasure,” Herget said. “It is a magnificent night—for the Newberry, for the City of Chicago, for research and writing in the humanities, and for life-long learning.”

The Campaign for Tomorrow’s Newberry is a $25-million fundraising initiative to help further the library’s mission of preserving and augmenting a precious cultural heritage and fostering its use. The campaign is providing resources benefiting the library’s magnificent collection and enhancing its usability; making critical physical improvements; providing support for staff development and new initiatives; and strengthening the institution’s endowment.

Established in 1987, which was the library’s centennial year, The Newberry Library Award honors individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the humanities, particularly in fields of endeavor related to the Newberry’s collection. Recent recipients of The Newberry Library Award include Hanna H. Gray, President Emerita of the University of Chicago; Anthony Grafton, Henry Putnam University Professor of History at Princeton University; and Jonathan D. Spence, Sterling Professor Emeritus of History at Yale University.

“We are extremely pleased to recognize the magnificent achievement of David McCullough, and are honored to welcome him back to the Newberry,” said Newberry President David Spadafora. “His body of work and dedication to scholarship have immeasurably increased our knowledge of and feeling for American history—and, therefore, made it possible for us to understand ourselves better.”

Acclaimed as a “master of the art of narrative history,” McCullough is twice winner of the Pulitzer Prize, twice winner of the National Book Award, and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award. His most recent book, The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris, was a number-one New York Times best seller and has been called “dazzling,” “an epic of ideas … history to be savored.”

“For 125 years, this library’s fabulous collection and its widely esteemed dedication to scholarship have fired the spirit that keeps the love of learning burning bright,” McCullough said. “I am grateful indeed to be honored with The Newberry Library Award, and I have no doubt that the library will carry on in its all-important role, and that its doors, for all who live here in Chicago or come to this great city, will remain portals of freedom.”

Co-chaired by Nancy Lee and Jonathan Kemper, Suzanne and Grant McCullagh, and David E. McNeel, the event included the award program held at nearby Harvest Bible Chapel, followed by cocktails and dinner at the Newberry, and raised a whopping $650,000, far more than any other event in Newberry history.

“We are grateful to David McNeel, the Kempers, and the McCullaghs for their leadership, which resulted in a capacity event and support that is crucial to the future of the institution and its mission,” Spadafora said. “It also gives me great pleasure to recognize the J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation, whose generous gift in honor of Joan and Bill Brodsky enabled us to invite high school students and teachers, as well as Newberry fellows and scholars, to hear David McCullough.”

You may hear the program in its entirety here. Please be aware that by clicking this link, you will be downloading a large (65 MB) mp3 file.