The Newberry collects manuscript and printed source materials for western European music from the late Middle Ages into the early 20th century and for American music from the 17th to the mid-20th century. There are also strong holdings for musical life in Chicago, from the mid- 19th through the 20th century. Strengths include:
- Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque music manuscripts and imprints
- Psalmody and hymnody
- Examples of music printing techniques
- Theory and instructional books
- American sheet music
- Classical music scores and anthologies
- Music periodicals
- Manuscript collections of musicians, composers, and musical societies
- Concert programs
For a survey of the library’s music collecting up until the 1960s, see Donald W. Krummel’s description published in volume 16 (1969) of Fontes artis musicae.
Since 1969, the largest single acquisition in music has been the donation of the library and papers of Howard Mayer Brown (1930–1993), a leading medieval and Renaissance musicologist of the University of Chicago. In addition to collecting numerous liturgical books and opera librettos, Brown directed considerable resources to the microfilming of music from the 13th through the 19th centuries.
The American Sheet Music collections shed light on the history of popular music in America and the history of American music printing. The acquisition of the Driscoll Collection of American Sheet Music in 1968 added dramatically to the library’s preexisting holdings of U.S. sheet music.
Additional information about the Newberry’s music collections is listed in the bibliographic guide, Music – Publications about the Newberry Library Collections, and our reference guide, Music – Reference Sources.
Please call the reference desk at (312) 255-3506 with questions on our holdings, or Contact a Librarian with research questions.