Researching at the Newberry

Independent Research

Summer programs at the Newberry offer summer scholars superb opportunities to renew and develop scholarly interests and skills through access to the collections and expertise of a premier research library. Accordingly, each participant will pursue a research project during the institute. Although the projects may be continuations of work already begun and need not be completed during the institute, we will ask each participant to prepare a brief report. Use of Newberry Library items in their research will be expected and meetings with library staff strongly encouraged.

The Newberry’s Collections

The Newberry Library, open to the public without charge, is an independent research library founded in 1887 dedicated to the advancement and dissemination of knowledge, especially in the humanities. The Newberry acquires and preserves a broad array of special collections research materials relating to the civilizations of Europe and the Americas. It promotes and provides for their effective use, fostering research, teaching, publication, and life-long learning, as well as civic engagement. In service to its diverse community, the Newberry encourages intellectual pursuit in an atmosphere of free inquiry and sustains the highest standards of collection preservation, bibliographic access, and reader services.

There are few institutions in the world where researchers can find a wider range of historic cartography than at the Newberry. The Newberry’s renowned collections of 500,000 manuscript and printed maps, 1.5 million books, and 5 million manuscript pages are a rich historical, literary, and geographical resource. Its map collection covers the entire period of modern cartographic history, from the Renaissance to the twentieth century. These collections are supported by an unsurpassed reference collection in the history of cartography and an expert reference staff and are used by an interdisciplinary community of scholars and teachers attracted to the Newberry from across the nation and around the world. (For a description of the Newberry’s geographical and map collections, see Maps, Travel, and Exploration.) The library continues to develop an extensive archive of online digital resources for educators, scholars, students, and general readers. For further information see Digital Resources.

The Smith Center

For 50 years, the Newberry’s Hermon Dunlap Smith Center for the History of Cartography has advanced knowledge of the history of cartography and promoted the use of the Newberry Library’s map collections by scholars, educators, and the general public. The center has organized twelve NEH summer institutes or seminars for college and university faculty and five seminars for schoolteachers; it has consistently received favorable reviews of these programs from participants. In 2015 and 2016, the center launched two major web resources supported in part by the NEH, featuring high-resolution map images and interpretive text: Make Big Plans: Daniel Burnham’s Vision of an American Metropolis and Mapping Movement in American History and Culture. The center has also curated seven major cartographic exhibitions mounted since 1996. Its many publications include 15 books published by the University of Chicago Press that emerged from the Kenneth Nebenzahl, Jr., Lectures in the History of Cartography.

Center for Renaissance Studies

The Center for Renaissance Studies promotes the use of the Newberry collection by graduate students and postgraduate scholars in the fields of late medieval, Renaissance, and early modern studies (ca. 1300 – ca. 1750), making available programs that may not be feasible for individual institutions to mount alone.

Founded in 1979, the center works with an international consortium of universities in North America and Europe. It offers a wide range of scholarly programs and digital and print publications based in the Newberry collections, and provides a locus for a community of scholars who come from all over the world to use the library’s early manuscripts, printed books, and other materials.

For more information on researching at The Newberry, please go to the Research page on the Library’s website.