Library Holdings

Art + Architecture Library, which was established in the late 1860s, is located on the first floor of the Art and Architecture Building. It contains approximately 100,000 volumes on architecture, painting, graphic design, photography, urban planning, and the history of art and architecture. It serves as the working library for the schools of Art and Architecture, the History of Art Department, and the Yale University Art Gallery, and as adjunct library for the Yale Center for British Art. Planning for a new Arts Library is underway. The Arts Library collection offers basic reference works, monographs, exhibition catalogues, and other scholarly works in the fields of art and architecture; a comprehensive collection of more than 800 periodicals, including nearly 500 current subscriptions; and a growing suite of networked digital library resources.

Classics Library was organized in 1892 by the Greek and Latin Club of Yale University as the Classical Club Library (the name was later changed to Classics Library). The Library has been located in Phelps Hall since 1896. The collection in the Classics Library covers many disciplines that include Greek and Latin texts, textual criticism, inscriptions, paleography, papyrology, epigraphy, Greek and Roman literature, philology, numismatics, history (prehistory, Greece and Rome, Byzantine and medieval), Greek and Roman law, classical archaeology and art, Greek and Roman mythology and religion, ancient philosophy and science, ancient music, classical scholarship, Byzantine studies, and the early history and literature of Christianity. The reference collection contains dictionaries, encyclopedias, manuals, and bibliographies for Greek and Latin studies. All material is non-circulating.

Drama Library holds more than 30,000 volumes, including plays by American, British, and foreign playwrights, books on the history of theatre, theatre architecture, dramatic criticism, costume and stage design, stage lighting and production, biographies, and related reference books. Periodicals collected range from the most scholarly theatre journals to the weekly trade papers. In addition to theatre, there are books on the other performing arts: film, dance, radio, television, and opera.

Special items in the collection include files of scene design, more than 80,000 theatrical prints and photographs, and bound copies of master’s theses and doctoral dissertations from the Drama School. The library has been collecting production books of Drama School productions and scripts from the Repertory Theatre since 1966. There is also a significant collection of School and Repertory Theatre programs and scrapbooks.

Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library is Yale University’s principal repository for literary papers and for early manuscripts and rare books in the fields of literature, theology, history, and the natural sciences. In addition to its general collection of rare books and manuscripts (Medieval & Renaissance and Modern), the library houses the Yale Collection of American Literature, the Yale Collection of German Literature, the Yale Collection of Western Americana, the Osborn Collection and the Playing Cards Collection. The Beinecke collections afford opportunities for interdisciplinary research in such fields as medieval, Renaissance, and eighteenth-century studies, art history, photography, American studies, the history of printing, and modernism in art and literature. Books and manuscripts at Yale have been extensively described since 1926 in the “Yale University Library Gazette,” which is available in many libraries.

Divinity Library Special Collections include original and microform archival and manuscript resources related to the following areas:

  • Records of Christian missionary activities overseas.
  • Records of Protestant Christian religious work among college and university students.
  • Personal papers of American clergy, evangelists, and religious leaders, particularly those involved in missions, ecumenical work, or student work, those from the New England area, and those of Congregational background.
  • Personal papers of Yale Divinity School faculty, deans, and prominent alumni.

Law Library has 800,000 volumes of print materials and approximately 10,000 active serial titles. Special strengths of the collection include materials emphasizing law and the social sciences, and a 200,000-volume foreign and international law collection.

Lewis Walpole Library, a department of Yale University Library, has significant holdings of eighteenth-century English books, manuscripts, prints, drawings, watercolors and paintings. A leading non-circulating research library for English eighteenth-century studies and the prime source for the study of Horace Walpole, it was bequeathed to Yale by Wilmarth Sheldon Lewis (1895-1979), who devoted his life to collecting the letters and works of Horace Walpole (1717-1797) and to editing the Yale Edition of Horace Walpole’s Correspondence, whose 48 volumes opened windows as no other work on the life and culture of Georgian Britain.

Almost every aspect of the eighteenth century is covered by the library’s holdings. The centerpiece of the book collections is a considerable portion of Horace Walpole’s own library from his house at Strawberry Hill. The library’s collection of prints and drawings is particularly strong in caricatures, portraits, and topographical views, including more than 13,000 personal and political satirical prints and drawings from the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

Medical Historical Library contains a large and unique collection of rare medical books, medical journals to 1920, pamphlets, prints, and photographs, as well as current works on the history of medicine. The library was founded in 1940 by the donations of the extensive collections of Harvey Cushing, John F. Fulton, and Arnold C. Klebs. Special strengths are the works of Hippocrates, Galen, Vesalius, Boyle, Harvey, and S. Weir Mitchell, and works on anesthesia, and smallpox inoculation and vaccination. The Library owns over 300 medical incunabula. The notable Clements C. Fry Print Collection has fine prints and drawings from the 16th century to the present on medical subjects by artists such as Gillray, the Cruikshanks, Hogarth, and Daumier. The Peter Parker Collection contains manuscripts of the 19th century medical missionary Peter Parker and paintings by the artist Lam-Qua of patients at Canton Hospital with pronounced pathological conditions. The Edward Clark Streeter Collection of Weights and Measures is one of the most comprehensive and extensive collections of its kind in the world. Parts of this collection are on permanent display throughout the Library.

Music Library - Special Collections: In addition to its regular collections of books, scores, periodicals, and recordings, the Irving S. Gilmore Music Library possesses a remarkable array of special collections, including approximately 4,000 linear feet of archival materials, 500 individual music manuscripts, 45,000 pieces of sheet music, and 50,000 photographs. The Library owns a large number of rare books and scores printed before 1850; its holdings are particularly strong in historical treatises on music theory, as well as early publications of opera scores, chamber music, and works for keyboard and plucked-string instruments.

The Music Library’s archival collections emphasize American music (including classical, jazz, and musical theater) and German music between the two World Wars, and feature the papers of Charles Ives, Benny Goodman, Vladimir Horowitz, Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya, and Virgil Thomson. The Paul Hindemith Collection focuses on the composer’s American years, while the Plaut and Dance Archives contain thousands of photographs of classical and jazz musicians. Individual manuscript holdings include autograph manuscripts by J.S. Bach, Frederic Chopin, Johannes Brahms, Robert Schumann, and Franz Liszt.

  • Oral History, American Music (OHAM) was founded in 1972, following an oral history project with those who knew and worked with composer Charles Ives. This project originated as an adjunct to the Yale Music Library’s Ives Collection of papers and manuscripts. After the success of the Ives project, OHAM was created to obtain memoirs from American composers and those who knew them. It is the only ongoing project in the field of music dedicated to the collection and preservation of oral and video memoirs directly in the voices of those who make our musical history. In addition to creating these invaluable primary source materials, OHAM functions as an archive where the tapes and transcripts are preserved and made available to a wide range of users.

Peabody Museum of Natural History - Archives document the history of the Museum and its collections. Maintained principally in the curatorial divisions and mostly postdating the founding of the Museum in 1866 are materials such as field notebooks, maps, correspondence, catalogs, photographs, and publications associated with the specimens amassed by the Museum’s first curators—O. C. Marsh, A. E. Verrill, and G. J. Brush—and their successors. (Documentation of earlier accessions as well as the papers of some members of the curatorial staff can be found at Manuscripts and Archives, Sterling Memorial Library.) Other materials document the Museum’s administration, personnel, activities of the public education department, and past exhibits and events; they include correspondence, photographs, clippings, and publications.

Yale Center for British Art houses the most comprehensive collection of English paintings, prints, drawings, rare books, and sculpture outside Great Britain. Given to Yale University by Paul Mellon, Class of 1929, the Center’s resources illustrate British life and culture from the 16th century to the present. The Photo Archive, located within the Reference Library of the Center, consists of over 200,000 black and white photographs of British art worldwide, with a special focus on holdings in United States, Canadian, and Australian collections. The Center’s Department of Rare Books and Archives houses a rare book collection of approximately 27,000 volumes. The emphasis is on printed and manuscript material relating to the visual arts and cultural life in the United Kingdom and former British Empire from the 17th through the end of the 19th century, although the collection also includes a growing collection of contemporary artists’ books.

The Center’s Department of Prints and Drawings houses over 20,000 drawings and watercolors and over 30,000 prints. The collection offers a comprehensive view of the development of British graphic art, with an emphasis on the flowering of the British watercolor school in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Other areas of interest include architectural drawings, topographical prints, caricatures, mezzotint portraits, and Shakespearean subjects. The Center provides a wide range of free public programs which include films, concerts, gallery talks, tours, lectures and symposia.

Yale University Art Gallery is the oldest college art museum in the United States. Founded in 1832 with the gift by Colonel John Trumbull of his paintings of the American Revolution, the Gallery has grown to include more than 100,000 works of art from virtually every culture from ancient times to the present. Known worldwide for its collections of American art, the Jarves Collection of early Italian paintings, the finds excavated at the ancient Roman city of Dura-Europos, and the Société Anonyme Collection of early twentieth-century European and American art formed by Katherine Dreier and Marcel Duchamp, the Gallery and its collections continue to grow through the generosity of its many donors and friends.

Individual curatorial departments provide access to collections in the following fields: African Art, American Decorative Arts, American Paintings and Sculpture, Ancient Art (including the Mediterranean and the ancient Americas), Asian Art, Coins and Medals, Early European Art, Modern and Contemporary Art, and Prints, Drawings, and Photographs. The museum archives are available by appointment with the archivist.