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
Date Written: 1975
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: Suggested Citation