Despite already housing 1.6 million books, 600,000 maps, and 15,000 square feet of manuscript material, the Newberry’s collection grows each year. Some of these acquisitions deepen our holdings in premodern history, while others document our present moment for future study. That means we may take in a book printed in the 1600s on the same day as a photograph taken in the 2010s.
For the past fifteen years, a generous group of donors called the Society of Collectors has dedicated itself to the mission of growing and deepening the Newberry’s collection. Members of this donor society support the Newberry by making a gift of $5,000 or more toward the acquisition of new items for the collection. Since 2006, the group has helped fund nearly 250 purchases.
Below we’re highlighting three recent acquisitions that we purchased thanks to the generosity of the Society of Collectors.
To celebrate the group’s 15th anniversary and help the Newberry continue to develop its collection, Newberry Life Trustee Roger Baskes is matching all Society of Collectors gifts up to $100,000 until June 30, 2022. If you are interested in making a gift to support the development of the Newberry’s collection, learn more about the Society of Collectors on our website.
Eunice Hundseth Militante Photograph Collection
The Eunice Hundseth Militante Photograph Collection is a large archive of materials that includes photographs of Pride Parades as well as more informal and intimate moments among women in Chicago’s lesbian and feminist communities.
A photographer and activist, Eunice Hundseth Militante was a fixture at women’s marches, demonstrations, and Pride Parades in Chicago throughout the 1970s. Born in 1942, she arrived in Chicago in 1960, studying art and honing her talent as a photographer before marrying Vincente Militante and taking a job at Evanston Hospital. By the late 60s, however, she had discovered Second Wave Feminism and become a self-described “raging full-blown feminist lesbian,” devoting herself to political action—and documenting her participation with her camera.
This important collection, which documents the gay rights and feminist movements in Chicago in the 1970s, was acquired by the Newberry in 2021. It is now available upon request in the library’s reading rooms. Click here to view the collection’s catalog record.
African Voices from the Inquisition, Vol. 1: The Trial of Crispina Peres of Cacheu, Guinea-Bissau (1646–1668)
This reference text, published by Oxford University Press in 2021, presents the first full transcription and translation of the trial of Crispina Peres, a woman born in Guinea-Bissau to a Portuguese father and an African mother. Accused of practicing Pagan rituals and witchcraft—an accusation she emphatically denied—Peres was imprisoned by Portuguese Inquisitors and made to stand trial in Lisbon. The materials produced during this 17th-century trial provide one of the most detailed pictures available of daily life in precolonial Africa.
Created to serve as a unique reference for English-language readers, African Voices from the Inquisition, Vol. 1 supplements the primary sources it explores with a detailed introduction to the Inquisition and Guinea-Bissau region and a full annotation and glossary to assist in teaching and understanding the trial. Though the Newberry does not hold the original manuscripts pertaining to Peres’s trial, this important reference text is now available in our reading rooms thanks to funds provided by the Society of Collectors. Click here to access to book’s catalog record.
Artist’s Books: “Ars Poetica: Empsonics including a remark by George Saintsbury”
This original work, created by renowned San Francisco calligrapher Thomas Ingmire in 2017, was based on a poem by British poet Alan Halsey. The piece was included in Ingmire’s 2018 exhibition Visual Poetry: A Lyrical Twist at the San Francisco Public Library, for which Ingmire collaborated with 11 contemporary poets. Ingmire made marks on paper inspired by music and sent them to the poets, who then wrote poems based on the marks. Ingmire calligraphed the resulting poems, creating stunning artist’s books filled with pages like the excerpt below.
The Newberry houses many artist’s books like Ingmire’s. We began to collect materials documenting the history of printing, calligraphy, and allied fields in the years following World War I, thanks to a bequest by Chicago journalist and publisher John Mansir Wing (1844–1917). Wing envisioned “a great typographical library.” Thanks to his early philanthropy and the current generosity of members of the Society of Collectors, we’ve been able to achieve that. Today, the John M. Wing Foundation on the History of Printing Collection is a world-renowned resource for studying the history of the book, containing more than 100,000 technical volumes, calligraphic manuscripts, printed ephemera, artist’s books, and more.
Click here to visit the catalog record of Ingmire’s “Ars Poetica” Or, to learn more about the breadth and depth of the Wing Collection, visit our collection information page.
Are you nterested in learning more about how the Society of Collectors helps the Newberry grow its collection? Visit our Giving Societies webpage or contact Natalie Edwards, Director of Major and Planned Giving, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story is part of the Newberry’s Donor Digest, Winter 2022. In this newsletter, we share with donors exciting stories of the work made possible by their generosity. Learn more about supporting the library and its programs.