Newberry Library

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NEWBERRY LIBRARY, in Chicago, Illinois, was founded in 1887 with a bequest of $2.15 million left by Walter Loomis Newberry, a Chicago businessman, to establish a public library. Since the Chicago Public Library had a circulating collection, the Newberry from its beginnings was a reference and research library with noncirculating materials. Early in the twentieth century, the scope of the Newberry became focused on the humanities, while the Crerar and Chicago Public Libraries concentrated respectively on science and social science. From the outset, collection development came from private funds and endowments. Grants from federal agencies and other sources support research projects and fellowships. Educational activities include an undergraduate research seminar program, faculty fellowships, and a variety of adult education courses. Research centers in the history of cartography, American Indian history, family and community history, and Renaissance studies, founded in the 1970s, continue to be active.

The holdings of the library in manuscripts, maps, microforms, and some 1.4 million books cover a broad range of western European and American culture and history. Strong collections include materials on the Americas, music, cartographic history, midwestern culture, the history of printing, and a range of other topics in the humanities. The extensive use of the collections in published research has made an invaluable contribution to scholarship and knowledge.


Towner, Lawrence W. An Uncommon Collection of Uncommon Collections: The Newberry Library. 3d ed. Chicago: Newberry Library, 1985.

Wyly, Mary. "Chicago's Newberry Library—Independent Research Library and National Resource." Alexandria 7 (1995): 181–193.


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