Libraries, Collections, and Other University Sources

Yale’s libraries have been developed over a period of three centuries. Throughout its history, the University has devoted a significant proportion of its resources to the building of collections that have an international reputation and that are matched by those of few other universities in the world.

The Yale University Library comprises three central libraries—Sterling Memorial Library, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, and the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Library—and twelve school and department libraries as well as many special collections. Third-largest among the university libraries in the United States, it includes more than fifteen million volumes and information in all media, ranging from ancient papyri to early printed books to electronic databases. Students have access to the physical collections and study spaces of all the libraries at Yale, as well as to a full array of online and digital resources. For additional information, please visit

The Divinity Library was established in 1932 through the consolidation of the Day Historical Library of Foreign Missions, the Trowbridge Reference Library, and the Rich - ard Sheldon Sneath Memorial Library of Religious Education. These collections have been augmented through purchases and gifts. The gifts include the libraries of Deans Charles R. Brown and Richard J. Wood, Professors Benjamin W. Bacon, Frank C. Porter, Douglas Clyde Macintosh, Henry Hallam Tweedy, Kenneth Scott Latourette, Carl H. Kraeling, Roland H. Bainton, Liston Pope, Johannes Hoekendijk, Henri Nouwen, Robert L. Calhoun, George Lindbeck, Randolph Crump Miller, James Dittes, and Mar - vin Pope; the files on religion in higher education collected by Clarence P. Shedd; the Edward Sylvester Smith Collection of Methodistica; and the John R. Mott Library. The library contains more than 500,000 volumes, 250,000 microforms, and 5,000 linear feet of manuscript and archival material.

The primary strength of the Divinity Library is in the history of missions, Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox; Christian doctrine, historical and constructive; biblical literature; and church history. The mission collection is one of only two such major collections in the world, and the section on doctrine is unusually complete. Subjects particularly well documented include Jansenism; American slavery and the Church; and the classical theologians, especially Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Schleiermacher, Harnack, and Barth.

The Special Collections Department is a rich source of primary research material. It includes the archives and papers of the World Student Christian Federation, the Student Volunteer Movement, the Student Division of the YMCA, John R. Mott, Henry Knox Sherrill, Horace Bushnell, Dwight L. Moody, the United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia, and the China Records Project. This department also houses many microform collections of missionary archives, a large collection of historical sermons, the publications of numerous missionary and non-Western ecclesiastical bodies, and the papers of many Yale scholars.

In addition to its extensive print and manuscript collections, the Divinity Library’s Henry H. Tweedy Reference and Resource program provides access to research materials in electronic formats. At the heart of the program are computer workstations connected to locally mounted tools and databases, to public resources on the University’s campus-wide network, and to the Internet. Patrons may use the workstations to query a wide variety of bibliographic and full-text databases and to communicate with scholars throughout the world. The Tweedy program also provides facilities for using audio, video, and multimedia tools for study and research. Inaugurated in 1992, the program is named in honor of Henry Hallam Tweedy, professor of practical theology at YDS from 1909 to 1937, and acting dean from 1934 to 1935.

Resources found elsewhere in the University bearing upon the work of YDS include approximately 100,000 volumes classed as religion in the Sterling Memorial Library, with another 100,000 in the Library Shelving Facility. This collection contains a wealth of scholarly periodicals and publications of learned societies, the source material of the Protestant Reformation, Byzantine and Orthodox literature, early Americana, and older books acquired in the past. A primary collection of Mormonism is in the Collection of Western Americana, together with related materials. Other collections important to YDS are Judaica; the American Oriental Society; and the Lowell Mason Collection of Hymnology in the School of Music Library. Early English church history imprints and the James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection of Negro Arts and Letters are found in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. There is an excellent collection on Cardinal John Henry Newman and the Tractarian Movement. Christian art is in the Arts Library; archaeology bearing on biblical studies and Christian origins is found in association with archaeology, ancient Near East, and classics. Resources to support the various area programs at Yale—East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Slavic and East European—are invaluable for the study of missions, non-Christian religions and culture, and world Christianity. The collections of the University illustrating the monuments and literature of Assyria and Babylonia are housed in Sterling Memorial Library.

The Yale University Art Gallery houses a collection of Palestinian pottery, acquired through the generosity of the late Mrs. Francis Wayland. Collections obtained through the excavations of the Yale–British Expedition to Gerasa, Transjordania, and the Yale–French Academy Expedition to Dura-Europos are also located in the Art Gallery.