European History and Literature

The Assembly Man, Written in the Year of 1647. Case Y 194 .785.
The Assembly Man, Written in the Year of 1647. Case Y 194 .785.

The history and literature of Continental Europe has been a specialty of the Newberry since its beginning, but like many other such broad fields, there are particular areas of great strength and others that are less well developed.

In general, materials concerning Central and Western Europe from the fourteenth century to the end of the Napoleonic era are in scope for the library. Italy, France, and Germany are best represented. The Spanish and Portuguese collections tend to emphasize the imperial experiences of those countries but include major literary works, religious history, and pamphlets in abundance. There are significant but less extensive collections for Switzerland, Austria, the Low Countries, and some other areas. Literature and cultural history are strongest, including politics, theology, Romance and Germanic philology, education, and the classics. Philosophy, fine arts, architecture, law, and the natural sciences are more unevenly included, though the library owns many important individual works in these fields.

In recent years, we have added only original sources in their original form, reference guides, bibliographies, textual editions, and a select number of monographs. The retrospective collections are also strong in monographs and scholarly periodicals. The Newberry does not systematically acquire new monographs or microform sets for European history and literature.

The collections of source materials are particularly strong in these areas: 

  • About 300 medieval and Renaissance manuscripts
  • Political treatises of all periods to the time of the French Revolution
  • Humanism
  • French political pamphlets of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries
  • French Revolutionary-period pamphlets
  • Early works on military science and military architecture
  • Calligraphy, handwriting, and shorthand books
  • Emblem books
  • Courtesy books
  • Dictionaries and encyclopedias
  • Editions of Terence
  • The institutional history of the Christian churches
  • Religious non-conformity, especially Recusancy, Jansenism, Sociniansim
  • The Roman and Spanish Inquisitions
  • Religious publishing and censorship
  • Children’s books

Some smaller but notable concentrations exist:

  • Arthuriana
  • Prose novels in the Romance languages
  • Children’s books, especially alphabet books
  • Hebraica, especially manuscripts and early printing
  • Works on Mary Queen of Scots
  • Napoleonica
  • Gypsy lore
  • The history of libraries 

See also:

Checklist of Post-1500 French Manuscripts

Checklist of Post-1500 Italian Manuscripts

Bibliographic Guide for European History and Literature