For centuries, handwriting served as a powerful tool for communicating information, preserving knowledge, shaping identity, and building empires. In our digital world, however, fewer and fewer people can read handwritten words.
Handwriting has survived disruptive technologies before. The invention of printing did not diminish the need for handwriting. Instead, it created new markets for ambitious printers and entrepreneurial writing teachers. These men and women used advances in print technologies to widen the influence of handwriting in everyday life.
A Show of Hands focuses on people, cultures, and technology to illustrate how handwriting has been taught, reproduced, and reimagined over the past five hundred years. Displaying a range of books and manuscripts from the Newberry’s collection, the exhibition makes the role of handwriting in the age of print newly legible.
A Show of Hands is generously supported by the Richard C. von Hess Foundation, the Fitzgerald Family Foundation, and Diane and Richard Weinberg.
Tuesday – Thursday
10am – 7pm
Friday and Saturday
10am – 5pm
Admission for Newberry exhibitions is free. No advance registration required.
Guided Public Tours
Visit for a free docent-led tour of A Show of Hands.
- Tuesdays at 1pm
- Thursdays at 11:30am
- Fridays at 1pm (no tour will be offered December 9)
- Saturdays at 1pm
To book a private tour of a Newberry exhibition (for a group of 10 or more), please contact Rebecca Haynes at (312) 255-3526 or via email.
Private tours are free, but donations are encouraged.