To mark its 125th anniversary, the Newberry will publish a book highlighting 125 outstanding items from its collection: The Newberry 125, Stories of Our Collection. The Newberry is home to millions of books, maps, manuscripts, and other media, and these featured few represent the collection’s most awe-inspiring, while corresponding to the items on display in The Newberry 125, the library’s special anniversary exhibition running from September 6 through December 31. Each item is afforded a one- or two-page spread that includes stunning high-resolution photographs and an essay documenting historical significance, surprising statistics, and amusing tidbits.
But The Newberry 125, Stories of Our Collection is not all flash. The book also acts as a kind of timeline of the Newberry’s illustrious collecting activity, explaining not only what can be found in the Newberry but also how and when it got there.
“No single book could possibly encapsulate an entire 125-year history, but this measure performs the indispensible functions of memorializing, reflecting, and celebrating in equal measure,” says David Spadafora, President and Librarian of the Newberry. “As an independent research library, the Newberry has always relied on its generous donors and exceptional staff, and this project has benefited from the same combination of forces. Publication of the book would not be possible without the support of Richard and Mary L. Gray, the consultation of Kim Coventry and the Coventry Group, and the dedication of the Newberry and non-Newberry contributors.”
The 125 essays accompanying beautiful visual renderings come from Newberry curators, librarians, and outside researchers who have relied on the collection in some way while pursuing their work. The essays are brief but informative, and revel in, but also take very seriously the task of, preserving a vibrant cultural heritage. A cultural heritage that includes one of the first printed editions of Ptolemy’s Geographia, a spectacular German-American baptismal certificate, the first Bible printed in North America—in Algonquian, not English—and a manuscript score written by Mozart when he was nine.
This book is divided into nine sections, reflecting the Newberry’s array of collection strengths: American History and Culture; American Indians and Indigenous Peoples; Chicago and the Midwest; Family Histories; History of the Book; Maps, Travel, and Exploration; Medieval and Renaissance Culture; Music and Dance; and Religion. Such broad scope is matched only by the depth of resources the Newberry offers—a depth toward which the highlighted items here can only gesture.
The Newberry 125, Stories of Our Colelction will be launched at the library’s Annual Dinner, Wednesday, October 10, after which it will be available for purchase at the A.C. McClurg Bookstore, located in the lobby. Publication of the book was made possible through the generous support of Richard and Mary L. Gray.