From the Stacks
“From the Stacks” offers a regular helping of Newberry sustenance for the hungry intellectual. Learn about one of our hidden treasures, meticulous maps, or enduring ephemera, highlighting the resonance between the Newberry’s 125 years of collecting and the timely—and timeless—issues of today. These items, covering a wide range of subject matter and form, are presented here in all their scholarly pathos and quirky splendor.
The Masterpiece Theater production “Downton Abbey,” the fourth season of which premiers in January, has inspired many with a new fascination for England’s great houses. This week’s selection from the stacks, an auction catalog for August 11, 1834, gives insight into the story of one such great house: Lee Priory. The building is particularly remarkable because for 10 years in the early nineteenth century, it housed a private printing press.
VAULT Ayer AY851 .Z7 1751
This beautiful German calendar, with a binding that includes leaves tied with twine along the spine, is highlighted by a woodcut vignette of Christopher Columbus, looking out a window with his navigational instruments, on its cover. Calendars inside include black and red symbols for tracking the planets, the moon, the zodiac, and weather conditions, and auspicious times for planting, chopping timber, cutting hair, even trimming fingernails. It also includes saints’ days, astrological information, and a calendar of market days for a variety of towns and villages.
McCutcheon Box 19, Folder 568
“An obvious flop, Prohibition nonetheless continued to hang on until the onset of the Depression and the election of Franklin Roosevelt,” wrote Chicago Tribune journalist Rick Kogan in an essay for the book Chicago Days. “Its final undoing came at the hands of Utah, which became the 36th state to ratify repeal in the form of the 21st Amendment.”
Passed on December 5, 1933, that amendment contains two short but important sentences:
Folio A5 .392 v. 8
In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln declared that the third Thursday of November would, for the first time, be a national “day of Thanksgiving and Praise” to honor the “sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” of the Civil War.
Case Y 2275 .E92
Published in 1864, one year after the consecration of the National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, this book includes the full program of events at the consecration ceremony along with a plan for the cemetery. Compiled by orator and politician Edward Everett—who also spoke at the ceremony—the book includes what is believed to be the first appearance of President Abraham Lincoln’s landmark speech, here called a “dedicatory address,” now simply known as the Gettysburg Address. Lincoln delivered the 272-word speech on November 19, 1863.
Vault Case MS 10030, Box 1, Folder 2
This letter by George Deal to his wife, Sarah, is one of more than 100 items on display in “Home Front: Daily Life in the Civil War North,” the Newberry’s exhibition marking the sesquicentennial of the conflict. It is a part of the George Deal papers, which include 55 letters, photographs of George and Sarah, photocopies of army service reports, confederate bills, and genealogical notes from their grandson.
folio Inc. 526
The Malleus Maleficarum, or “Hammer of Witches,” was a popular medieval handbook for witch hunters, prosecutors, and executioners—and the source of a popular Newberry ghost story.
In 1985 the Chicago Tribune reported that, while part of an exhibition on the Inquisition at the Newberry, the “Hammer of Witches” turned slightly in its cradle everyday. According to the Tribune, the Malleus Maleficarum, in a locked case and untouched by anyone, magically moved 30 degrees over a weekend.
VAULT Ruggles 203
Francis Scott Key penned “Defence of Fort M’Henry,” the poem that would become “The Star-Spangled Banner,” after watching British ships bomb Fort McHenry, near Baltimore, in September of 1814. This birth of the United States’s national anthem is one of the most well-remembered events of the War of 1812, now in its bicentennial.