The history and literature of Continental Europe has been a specialty of the Newberry since its beginning, but like many other such broad fields, there are particular areas of great strength and others that are less well developed.
In general, materials concerning Central and Western Europe from the fourteenth century to the end of the Napoleonic era are in scope for the library. Italy, France, and Germany are best represented. The Spanish and Portuguese collections tend to emphasize the imperial experiences of those countries but include major literary works, religious history, and pamphlets in abundance. There are significant but less extensive collections for Switzerland, Austria, the Low Countries, and some other areas. Literature and cultural history are strongest, including politics, theology, Romance and Germanic philology, education, and the classics. Philosophy, fine arts, architecture, law, and the natural sciences are more unevenly included, though the library owns many important individual works in these fields.
The collections of source materials are particularly strong in these areas:
- Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts
- Political treatises of all periods to the time of the French Revolution
- French political pamphlets of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries
- Early works on military science and military architecture
- Calligraphy, handwriting, and shorthand books
- Religious non-conformity, especially Recusancy, Jansenism, Sociniansim
- The Roman and Spanish Inquisitions
- Religious publishing and censorship
Some smaller but notable concentrations exist:
- Prose novels in the Romance languages
- Children’s books, especially alphabet books
- Hebraica, especially manuscripts and early printing
- British and Irish History
- British and Irish Literature
- French History and Literature
- French Pamphlets
- German Literature
- Italian History and Literature
The Newberry’s holdings of modern European manuscripts (post-1500) comprise some 2,000 items, both individual pieces and collections. Principal topics represented include literary works and literary criticism, calligraphy, music, letters and family papers, religious texts, histories, official documents, and military affairs. The principal languages represented are French, Italian, Portuguese, English, German, and Spanish.