Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Newberry trifecta

If I put the Newberry Library news in separate posts, there won't be room for anybody else. So here are three recent developments in one:

(1) Their "Chicago Biography and Industry File" (PDF) is now on line. It's a list of 48 biographical compendia published 1876-1937, followed by a name index of those profiled in each book. (NOT a complete name index of all the books, but wouldn't that be something?) Warning: if, like me, you were hoping for some nuts and bolts about the biographees' businesses, it is generally lacking.

(2) Matter-of-fact and helpful curator of genealogy and local history Jack Simpson has a new book out, entitled Basics of Genealogy Reference: A Librarian's Guide. I've only been able to glance at it, but what I saw confirmed my first thought: Even though it's not addressed directly to us, and of necessity deals with basics and not advanced research, this is a book every serious genealogist should take a good look at. Seeing oneself reflected in a top genealogy librarian's advice to his colleagues can be, um, instructive. (There's a wonderful brief chapter near the end on common researcher mistakes. I won't spoil the lead story.)

(3) An even newer book, compiled by members of the Chicago Map Society in collaboration with the Newberry, is Chicago to Lake Geneva: A 100-Year Road Trip. That's right: the University of Chicago Press republished a 1905 photographic guide to the unmarked route to a popular resort, and matched it with pictures of how that route looks now. I haven't seen this book but the idea is so cool I can only hope and expect that the execution measures up.

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