Maps have long exerted a special fascination—as beautiful works of art and as practical navigational tools. But to those who collect them, the map trade can be a cutthroat business, inhabited by quirky and sometimes disreputable characters in search of a finite number of extremely rare objects.
The collections contain extensive materials on the history of Chicago and the Midwest, including its growth, politics, and eclectic inhabitants.
The Newberry houses an extraordinary collection of over 500,000 maps and sources relating to the history and culture of travel.
As a collection of Americana, the Edward E. Ayer Collection is one of the best in the country and one of the strongest collections on American Indians.
The Newberry has been actively collecting genealogy and local history materials since 1887.
From the Stacks
The Great War marked a pivotal shift in the lives of African Americans. As American industry ramped up to meet wartime demands and droves of young people joined the U.S. military, new economic opportunities drew hundreds of thousands of African Americans from the South to industrial centers in the North. Between 1916 and 1920, during what became known as the Great Migration, 50,000 black southerners relocated to Chicago, where they accounted for 20 percent of the wartime meat-packing labor force (to take just one example).
Though automobiles were already, by the 1920s, becoming the preferred form of transportation for short trips between American cities, trains remained the most convenient and efficient way to cover larger distances. The railroads preserved their competitive advantage in this area in part through the promotion of tourism.