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Class and Culture in Late Nineteenth-Century Chicago: The Founding of the Newberry Library

American Studies, Vol. 16, No. 1. 1975

18 Pages Posted: 9 Jul 2009  

Paul Finkelman

University of Pittsburgh, School of Law; Albany Law School - Government Law Center

Date Written: 1975

Abstract

This article is about Chicago’s rise to become and stay one of the nation’s most successful cities based on economic and geographic primacy; to be complete as a national leader, Chicago felt a duty to be a pioneer in American culture, which partly led to the opening of the Newberry Library. However, much thought and debate went into deciding how to build and characterize the library, despite the needs of the preexisting public library, or the lack of a working man’s, immigrant or mercantile libraries which were needed to compete with Eastern rival cities. The Newberry library became a source of older cultural values and ideas, supplemented by rare historical and artistic collections, as influenced by the standards, visions, and elite social values of Newberry himself, Librarian William Frederick Poole, scholars, and private philanthropists who were able to supply otherwise unsought materials. The library was caught between the worlds of gentlemen scholars and professional scholarship and social science research, ultimately becoming an important, though specialized, research institution.

Keywords: Chicago, Newberry

Suggested Citation

Finkelman, Paul, Class and Culture in Late Nineteenth-Century Chicago: The Founding of the Newberry Library (1975). American Studies, Vol. 16, No. 1. 1975. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1432009

Paul Finkelman (Contact Author)

University of Pittsburgh, School of Law ( email )

3900 Forbes Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States
412-648-2079 (Phone)

Albany Law School - Government Law Center ( email )

80 New Scotland Avenue
Albany, NY 12208
United States

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