Timeline | Newberry



1833 Walter Loomis Newberry moves to Chicago.
1868 Walter Loomis Newberry dies at sea.
1871 Great Chicago Fire destroys Newberry’s personal library.
1887 Bequest of about $2.2 million from Newberry’s estate founds the Newberry Library after all of Newberry’s immediate heirs pass away. Library founded with the requirement that it be a “free, public library.”
William Frederick Poole named the Newberry’s first president and librarian.
1887 The Newberry first opens in a temporary building on La Salle Street.
1888 The Newberry moves to East Ontario Street, and two years later to Oak and State Streets.
1889 Count Pio Resse’s music library acquired. Originally consisting of 751 items, the music collections at the Newberry number at least 200,000 today.
1890 Henry Probasco’s library acquired. Probasco’s library contained many of the gems the Newberry is known for today, including the first Shakespeare Folio, many incunabula, and two Grolier bindings, among other treasures.
1892 The Newberry is officially incorporated.
1893 Building on West Walton finished; the library moves into its permanent home in November 1893.
1894 Poole dies. At the time of Poole’s death, the Newberry owned around 120,000 books and 44,000 pamphlets.
John Vance Cheney becomes the Newberry’s second librarian, and brings with him Alexander J. Rudolph, his assistant. Rudolph invents Rudolph binders and Rudolph indexer catalogs. In-house bindery created.
1901 The Newberry acquires the Prince Louis Lucien Bonaparte collection in linguistics, an 18,000-item collection.
1909 W. N. C. Carlton becomes the third Newberry librarian. He does away with the Rudolph indexer.
1911 Edward E. Ayer, member of the first Board of Trustees, gives his collection of 14,000 printed and manuscript items to the library. In later years he will continue to add to it and give three endowed funds for its maintenance. Today it stands at more than 100,000 volumes.
1912 John M. Wing donates his personal collection on printing history to the Newberry, along with funds to expand this collection. It now contains more than 30,000 volumes and thousands of manuscript pages.
1920 George Burwell Utley named the fourth librarian at the Newberry.
1920s Intensive collecting of incunabula begins, expanding to some 2,200 items today.
1930 Rare Book Room created.
1937 Newberry Trustee William B. Greenlee donates his Portuguese library.
1942 Stanley Pargellis becomes the Newberry’s fifth librarian. Pargellis is credited for broadening the scope of the library’s collections, as well as expanding scholarly and public programming.
1962 Lawrence W. Towner named the sixth Newberry librarian. Towner expands conservation and research programs.
1963 Special Collections department created.
1964 Purchase of Louis H. Silver collection.
Newberry Trustee Everett D. Graff donates his personal library of Western Americana.
1964-65 First fundraising efforts for the Newberry, resulting in $1.5 million.
First Newberry Library Seminar, centered on renaissance studies, takes place.
1971 Hermon Dunlap Smith Center for the History of Cartography created, after a proposal from President Towner, who saw Italian map collections and wanted one at the Newberry.
Center for Family and Community History, now known as the Dr. William M. Scholl Center for American History and Culture, founded. 
1972 D’Arcy McNickle Center for American Indian and Indigenous Studies founded.
1975 Position of Vice President created, and James Wells named first vice president. Later, multiple Vice President offices were created to oversee departmental divisions.
Conservation Department created through union of production binding and Conservation Laboratory.
1979 Newberry Library Center for Renaissance Studies founded through a National Endowment for the Humanities grant.
1982 Stack Building completed.
1985 Newberry Trustee Rudy Lamont Ruggles donates his library to the Newberry.
First annual Book Fair held.
1986 Charles T. Cullen named president and librarian.
Bughouse Square Debates begin in their current form.
1987 Exhibition and publication of Humanities Mirror marks the Newberry’s centennial.
1990 Newberry receives a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission to establish an archive of the library’s institutional records.
1994 Center for Public Programs created.
1998 Exterior of Newberry washed. The exterior, blackened with the city residue since its construction, was restored to its original color. A new, red tile roof was installed in 2008.
2003 The Time Traveler’s Wife, written by Audrey Niffenegger, hits bookstore shelves. The main character, Henry, is a time traveler who works at the Newberry.
2003 Queen Elizabeth I quadracentennial exhibition is the most visited in Newberry history.
2005 David Spadafora named president and librarian.
2007 National Medal for Library Service awarded to the Newberry by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
2012 125th Anniversary of the Newberry.