Newberry Library Archives

Newberry Library Reading Room, 1894 NL Archives 15/01/03, Box 5.
Newberry Library Reading Room, 1894. NL Archives 15/01/03, Bx. 5, Fl.#63.

The Archives of the Newberry (960 cubic feet), comprising the library’s institutional records, the records of the Newberry estate, and the personal papers of staff members and trustees, are remarkable for the completeness of their documentation of a particular library type – the independent research library of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Beginning with Newberry estate trustees Blatchford and Bradley, individuals associated with the Newberry have conscientiously preserved the great majority of the library’s operational records. Virtually complete Board of Trustees records and the administrative files and personal papers of Newberry trustee founders and donors (Blatchford, Edward E. Ayer, Robert B. Greenlee, Everett D. Graff) and of Newberry Librarians (Poole, John V. Cheney, W.N.C. Carlton, George B. Utley, Stanley Pargellis, Lawrence W. Towner) contain a wealth of information on the establishment and operation of the library, its growth and transformation over time, and its active participation in the cultural and intellectual life of Chicago and the nation.

Extensive records of library divisions and departments also document finances, personnel, collection development and management, and programs for scholarly and public outreach. In addition, the records of the Newberry estate contain significant information on the activities of a wealthy Chicago family, 1868-1885, and on real property and its development in Chicago, Cook County, and Wisconsin during the same period. The Archives also holds numerous photographs dating from the 1890s of the library building, of staff and readers, and of library events and exhibitions. Also included is a very complete set of publications issued by the library.

The following are among the topics covered:

  • Independent research libraries
  • History of professional librarianship
  • Women librarians
  • Library cooperation in Chicago
  • Library building design
  • Library collection development
  • Library exhibits
  • Library endowments and fund raising
  • Conservation and restoration of library materials
  • Programs for scholarly and public education
  • Government and private philanthropy
  • Antiquarian book trade
  • Book collectors and collecting
  • American Library Association
  • Chicago intellectual and cultural life
  • Newberry family
  • Chicago and Cook County real estate development

Finding Aids:

  • The main guide to Newberry Library institutional records is A Guide to the Newberry Library Archives compiled by Martha Briggs, Alison Hinderliter, and Cynthia Peters (Chicago, Newberry Library, 1993).
  • Full catalog records with name and subject access for records series and the record groups and subgroups to which they belong are located in the Newberry Online Catalog and on OCLC.
  • Brief abstracts of Newberry-related collections may be found at Modern Manuscript Collections.
  • Additional information on the History of the Newberry.