William B. Greenlee (1872-1953) was a Newberry Library Trustee whose generosity greatly enhanced the library’s collections. Greenlee was an interested amateur student who studied Portuguese and Brazilian history in the Ayer Collection, meanwhile collecting books on his own. In 1937 he transferred his Portuguese library to the Newberry, where he worked among his books, selecting new titles and editing a volume of voyages to Brazil for the Hakluyt Society. The collection, numbering over 10,000 volumes, is particularly strong in these areas:
- Periodicals, gazetteers, bibliographies, and collections of documents
- Travel literature and special subjects relating to social life and customs
- General Portuguese history and literature, especially colonial expansion
- Local history and description
While purposely not focussing on first editions of old and rare books, the Greenlee Collection has been built into one of the world’s finest working libraries of Luso-Brasilian research materials. In addition to print material, the Greenlee collection contains 226 Portuguese manuscripts, 1660-1815. The acquisition of over 15,000 sixteenth through nineteenth century Portuguese leaflets, pamphlets and booklets in recent years, has added further research depth to this great collection.
Greenlee collection acquisitions are listed in the Newberry’s online catalog and in the WorldCat database. In addition, Greenlee acquisitions to 1978 are described in A Catalog of the William B. Greenlee Collection of Portuguese History and Literature and the Portuguese Materials in the Newberry Library (2 vols., 1953).
The following Newberry Library Bulletin article provides an overview of the Greenlee collection: The William B. Greenlee Collection.
For a review article of the Greenlee Collection, written by Janaína Amado, Universidade de Brasília, see: Importante Coleção de História Luso-Brasileira na Newberry Library.