To mark its 125th anniversary, the Newberry has assembled one hundred and twenty-five of its most significant objects in one beautifully illustrated volume. Arranged in order to tell both the story of the library as an institution and its collecting history, The Newberry 125 covers a great breadth of topics including: American culture throughout the ages, the history of Chicago and the Midwest, geography and exploration, religion, music and dance, Medieval and Renaissance studies, and the indigenous peoples of North America. Each of the highlighted items has been photographed in stunning full color and is accompanied by a brief description, its call number, and a concise yet informative essay by a Newberry curator, librarian, or researcher on the object’s importance to the collection. By describing the unique physical qualities of these items, as well as their great scholarly import, these essays remind us how irreplaceable many of these maps, books, and documents are—and how much they still have to offer us.
The pieces themselves show us the amazing power of physical objects, particularly the products of humanists over many centuries. Included are items as varied as a painting by Elbridge Ayer Burbank, the correspondence between Ernest Hemingway and Sherwood Anderson, the earliest print version of Voltaire’s Candide, and a copy of Ptolemy’s Geographia that dates from the fifteenth century. The Newberry 125 is as wide-ranging and impressive as the library itself, and it serves as a wonderful introduction to the collection, as well as a new and fascinating lens through which visitors and fans can view the Newberry.