The Newberry Library

The Newberry Library, Chicago.

Following on from the success of Adam Matthew’s existing American West project sourced from the Newberry Library’s prestigious Everett D. Graff Collection of Western Americana, we have once again partnered with the Newberry in digitising their celebrated Edward E. Ayer Collection for American Indian Histories and Cultures.

The Newberry Library is an independent research library concentrating in the humanities with an active educational and cultural presence in Chicago. Free and open to the public, it houses an extensive non-circulating collection of rare books, maps, music, manuscripts, and other printed material. The Newberry offers exhibits based on its outstanding collections, musical and theatrical performances, lectures and discussions with today's leading humanists, seminars, and teacher programs.

Serving the public as an independent research library since 1887, the Newberry hosts a collection focusing on Western Europe and the Americas and offers a wide array of programs. Its more than 1.5 million books, 5 million pages of manuscript, and 500,000 historic maps range from illuminated medieval works and rare cartographic treasures to rich genealogical resources and the papers of Midwest authors and companies.

We would like to thank the Newberry Library's staff for their continued support, invaluable advice and guidance throughout the project process, in particular John Powell, Jennifer Thom and Scott Manning Stevens.

These collections complement each other brilliantly through related documents, valuable secondary resources and similar themes. You will find helpful links to expand your search across both collections and links to The American West document list throughout the site.

The American West homepage

To search across both collections, click here: Link to American West resource or here: Link: 'Cross-search with The American West Collection'

For a full list of documents from The American West, click here: View Documents from The American West

Please note: If your institution does not have access to The American West collection content will be restricted. For more information please contact


The Edward E. Ayer Collection


[Portrait of Edward E. Ayer] by Elbridge Ayer Burbank, 1897As a collection of general Americana, the Newberry’s Edward E. Ayer Collection is one of the best in the country and one of the strongest collections on American Indians in the world.

In 1911, Edward E. Ayer (1841-1927) donated more than 17,000 pieces on the early contacts between American Indians and Europeans. Ayer, a member of the first Board of Trustees, was the first donor of a great collection to the Newberry. Since then, the Ayer endowment fund has enabled the library to collect in excess of 130,000 volumes; over one million manuscript pages; 2,000 maps; 500 atlases; 11,000 photographs; and 3,500 drawings and paintings on the subject.

The D’Arcy McNickle Center for American Indian and Indigenous Studies enacts programming, including fellowships and seminars, that allows participants to draw from the Newberry’s collections in their research.

The Centre's Director, Scott Manning Stevens, introduces this unique collection in his essay: Mr. Ayer’s Community Service: The Creation and Use of a Great Collection.