Programs for Students | Newberry

Programs for Students

Poster, “We Are Ready What About You? Join the Schools at War Program.” Sponsored by The War Savings Staff of the U.S. Treasury, 1942.

To aid Chicago’s efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the Newberry is temporarily closed to the public until further notice. Due to these recent developments, all library programs, including Traveling Collections and exhibition tours, have been canceled, effective immediately.

We appreciate your patience and flexibility while we navigate this unprecedented situation. We care deeply about the health and well-being of the Newberry community. We will continue to monitor the situation and consult information from the CDC and the Chicago Department of Public Health to determine the next course of action. The library will regularly post updates to our website at

Newberry Traveling Collections

Can’t come to the Newberry? Let our research library come to you!

The Newberry is pleased to offer two new opportunities for teachers and high school students to work with original primary sources in their own classrooms.

The Civil War

Newberry staff will bring a traveling collection of original Civil War documents and images to your classroom. Highlights include illustrated copies of Harper’s Weekly, Union and Confederate soldiers’ letters, and The Liberator. Learn how both mass media and personal documents shaped Americans’ understanding of the Civil War. Students learn to engage in close reading and primary source analysis to better understand the Civil War.

World War II

Newberry staff will bring a traveling collection of original World War II documents and images to your classroom. Highlights include propaganda posters, a newspaper from the Heart Mountain Japanese internment camp, newspapers reporting on the Pearl Harbor attack and the D-Day invasions, and personal letters and photographs. Your students will learn to interact with primary sources ranging from the war front to the home front. Whether you seek World War II-era content or just want to introduce students to primary source analysis, this collection provides a unique experience for students to interact with historical documents.

This program, generously funded by the Mazza Foundation, is free for Chicago Public Schools and Big Shoulders Fund schools.

Hear what students from John Hancock High School have to say about this traveling collections program!

“My favorite part was interacting with the actual sources instead of looking at pictures of them or only being able to see them from afar.”

“It felt like a time machine.”

“I loved how old the documents were. It was a first-hand experience.”

What to Expect during a Traveling Collection Visit

Upon registering for the program and scheduling a visit, the Teacher and Student Programs team will send you a short document, written by a subject specialist, explaining important background context for the historical period we will cover in the traveling collection. You are free to assign the document or incorporate into your lesson planning however you wish. The day of the visit, we will arrive with a selection of historical artifacts to display, discuss, and engage with during your class. Your students are welcome to touch the items and take pictures. Following a brief analysis and discussion of the items as a large group, we will branch out into a small-group analysis activity, which will allow your students to practice document analysis skills first-hand. We strive to adjust the curriculum to best suit your class size, time allotment, and population needs and abilities.

Registration for 2019-2020 will open September 6, 2019. Register here.

Exhibition Tours at the Newberry

With generous support from the Walter E. Heller Foundation, the Newberry provided exhibition tours of The Legacy of Chicago Dance (Spring 2019) and What is the Midwest? (Fall 2019), and will continue to host school groups throughout the 2019-2020 school year. These tours, led by exhibition curators and library docents, are open to Chicago Public School groups. Bus transportation is free for participating schools. (Please note, however, that the Newberry is unable to offer substitute teacher coverage.)

Jun Fujita: American Visionary

Copresented by the Newberry Library and the Poetry Foundation, this exhibit focuses on the extraordinary accomplishments of poet and photojournalist Jun Fujita. It presents an expanded version of Jun Fujita: Oblivion, first mounted at the Poetry Foundation in 2017, and explores Fujita’s poetry, photojournalism, landscape photography, and uncommon life and love.

Born outside of Hiroshima in 1888, Fujita came to Chicago in 1909, becoming the first Japanese American photojournalist. As an English-language tanka poet, he published regularly in Poetry during the 1920s; as a photographer, he captured many of the most famous moments in Chicago history, including the Eastland Disaster, the 1919 race riots, and the St. Valentine’s Day massacre.

Throughout his work, Fujita put forward a vision of what “American” can mean, achieving unprecedented success in his profession despite the hostility, prejudice, and persecution he faced as a Japanese native.

Registration for Jun Fujita: American Visionary will open January 2020.

More information about the Jun Fujita: American Visionary exhibition can be found here.

Renaissance Invention: Stradanus’s “Nova Reperta”

During a time of globalization, colonization, and warfare, Europeans in the Renaissance embraced new technology even as they lamented its destabilizing consequences.

Renaissance Invention explores the conception of novelty and technology through an unprecedented study of Nova Reperta, a late 16th-century print series that celebrated the marvels of the age, including the stirrup, the cure for syphilis, and the so-called discovery of America. Designed in Florence and printed in Antwerp, the Nova Reperta images circulated widely, shaping Europeans’ perceptions of the innovations that were changing the world and breeding anxiety about the future.

In Renaissance Invention, materials from the Newberry’s collection will appear alongside armor from the Art Institute of Chicago and astronomical instruments from the Adler Planetarium, transporting visitors to a time of change, disruption, and technological development that resembles our own today.

Registration for Renaissance Invention will open April 2020.

More information about the Renaissance Inventionexhibition can be found here.

Class Visits to the Newberry’s Collections

Groups of 15 students or less are welcome to visit the library’s reading rooms to experience first-hand our amazing collections. Reservations are first come, first served, and all group members must be at least 14 years of age or in the ninth grade to enter the reading rooms. For more information on specific requirements and how to register your group, please visit the Reader Services department webpage.