The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has awarded the Newberry a grant of $185,000 to expand the library’s digital resources for teachers, students, and lifelong learners.
The grant will enable the Newberry to digitize manuscripts of 13 prominent social reformers of twentieth-century Chicago. After being digitized, the materials will be freely accessible online to the public. Among the Newberry collections to be digitized are the papers of defense lawyer Clarence Darrow, correspondence by International Workers of the World founder Eugene Debs, letters written by women’s rights activist May Walden, and the papers of Chicago NAACP president E. Winston Williams and his wife and partner, Ina D. Williams.
“By augmenting the Newberry’s online resources, we hope to open new pathways for teachers and students to engage with Newberry collection materials beyond the walls of a physical classroom,” said Alice Schreyer, Vice President for Collections and Library Services at the Newberry. “We’re grateful to the IMLS for the support in making these materials available to students, teachers, and the public.”
An independent federal agency, the IMLS provides funding for libraries and museums across the United States while also supporting policy development and research.
In supporting the digitization of some 252,000 manuscript pages from the Newberry’s archive, the IMLS grant will help the library build on its rapidly expanding digital engagement initiatives. As much of the world has moved online for learning, entertainment, and cultural experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Newberry has seen a surge of interest in its crowdsourcing transcription projects as well as its curriculum materials for teachers.
“The materials we plan to digitize draw on the Newberry’s strong collections of social action and social protest in Chicago and place today’s struggles for social justice within a larger historical context: the movements for civil rights, women’s suffrage, and worker’s rights of a century ago,” said Alison Hinderliter, Lloyd Lewis Curator of Modern Manuscripts. “In this way, the Newberry can help the public look to the past in order to better understand our current turbulent moment.”