Special Collections

American Oriental Society (SML 329) collection contains printed material and manuscripts in Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Assyrian, Babylonian, Sumerian, Pali, Prakrit, Chinese, Japanese, and Armenian. The printed materials and the accompanying card catalog are located in Room 329; the manuscripts are located in the Beinecke Library.

Andrews Study (SML 214 & 215) houses the Charles McLean Andrews Memorial Collection of American Colonial History, about 3,300 volumes of Anglo-American historical sources and works. Both rooms contain reserve shelves for readers and comfortable furniture for studying; a networked workstation is located in Room 215.

Arts of the Book Collection (SML, First Floor) The Arts of the Book Collection (AOB) is a research facility housed in the Sterling Memorial Library. The collection contains both examples of and reference materials about the arts related to the book covering topics such as binding, book history, illustration, calligraphy, graphic design, paper making and decorative papers, typography and more. Contemporary examples of artists’ books and fine printing are housed alongside more traditional publications. Additionally, AOB is the home to several named collections relating to persons who have significantly contributed to the book arts. binding, book history, illustration, calligraphy, graphic design, paper making and decorative papers, typography and more. Contemporary examples of artists’ books and fine printing are housed alongside more traditional publications.

Babylonian Collection (SML 318-327) : Some 5000 years ago, writing developed in the lower valley of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, and spread from there to the rest of ancient Mesopotamia, approximately present-day Iraq. The writing, called cuneiform (“wedge-shaped”), spread from there over the entire Near East. The Babylonian Collection houses the largest assemblage of cuneiform inscriptions in the United States, and one of the five largest in the world. The bulk of the inscriptions consists of clay tablets in all sizes and shapes. There are also a number of inscribed monuments on stone and other materials, some of considerable artistic interest, including a large collection of stamp and cylinder seals. In addition, the Collection maintains a complete library in the fields of Assyriology (the study of ancient Mesopotamia), Hittitology (ancient Anatolia, roughly equivalent to modern Turkey), and Near Eastern archaeology. It publishes several monograph series through the Yale University Press. The Collection is primarily for the use of students and faculty in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, but it is also open to visiting scholars and to all interested members of the Yale community and the general public.

Faber Birren Collection (Arts Library) : The Faber Birren Collection of Books on Color was presented to Yale University in 1971 by Faber Birren (1900-1988), a leading color authority in the United States. He began the collection early in the his career, maintained an active involvement with it throughout his lifetime, and created an endowment to ensure its continued future development. The collection’s major holdings are works on color theory, color techniques, and artists’ manuals and treatises, but it encompasses all aspects of color. Thus it includes works about color in such fields as architecture, the decorative arts, printing and the graphic arts, textiles, music, religion, vision, psychology, the sciences, heraldry and the occult. The Birren Collection’s holdings of color systems, color standards and color nomenclature are the most extensive to be found anywhere.

Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies houses over 4,000 videotaped interviews with witnesses and survivors of the Holocaust, the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies is part of Manuscripts and Archives, at Sterling Memorial Library.

Manuscripts and Archives Department (SML, First Floor) : Manuscripts and Archives promotes and sustains the research and teaching missions of the University and serves as the documentary memory of the Yale community by making primary source materials available for study. The resources and services of Manuscripts and Archives are available to all members of the Yale community as well as to researchers from outside the University who wish to make use of them and the department assists thousands of researchers each year. Manuscripts and Archives has more than 1,700 manuscript collections and archival record groups occupying approximately 42,000 linear feet of space. Some of the collections have been microfilmed in whole or in part and comprise 2,500 microfilm reels. There are more than 51,000 volumes relating to Yale and its history and an additional 27,600 volumes of dissertations. Major highlights of the collection areas and resources include holdings related to the United States, Latin America, Great Britain, South Africa, East Asia, the former Soviet Union and the Middle East. Especially well documented are the fields of U.S. social history, government, law, medical care, science, the environment, journalism, Native Americans, and the history of Yale University.

Map Collection (SML, Seventh Floor), one of the largest university collections of maps in the United States, is geographically comprehensive and consists of over 200,000 map sheets, 3,000 atlases, and 900 reference books. The Collection receives maps and charts on deposit from the U.S. government agencies, and also houses approximately 15,000 rare (pre-1850) sheet maps.

Microform Reading Room (SML, Basement) contains Sterling Library’s extensive microform and microfiche collections. The collection includes backruns for various newspapers, historical document sets, area studies resources, ERIC documents, declassified government documents, and more. A database of newpaper microforms at Yale allows one to search by city, state/country, year, and other criteria.

Newspaper Reading Room (SML, First Floor) houses the most current editions of newspapers from all over the world. U.S. titles are shelved on the left side of the Newspaper Room, arranged alphabetically by city, from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution to the Yale Bulletin and Calendar. Foreign titles are shelved on the right side of the room by broad geographic region, and then alphabetically by country, city, and title. Back issues of U.S. papers and Chinese, Japanese, and Korean language papers are located in the back of the room.

Philosophy Study (SML 609 & 610) contains the most recent 30 years of several heavily used philosophy journals (Room 609); and critical editions of the works of major philosophers, important secondary literature, and a small reference collection (Room 610).

Visual Resources Collection (Arts Library) consists of 320,000 slides (including 35 mm and historic 3 x 4 glass lantern slides) and 187,000 photographs. The collection was started over 60 years ago and has been formed by requests for the images needed for classroom instruction at Yale. There are many special groups of photographs which cover specific areas in depth, among them, Chinese painting, Romanesque and Gothic architecture, and Spanish painting. A significant number of the images date to the 19th century and have become valuable in documenting buildings, paintings and sculpture before present-day alteration, damage, cleaning, or restoration. Part of this 19th century collection of photographs includes views of Yale buildings and classrooms.

Yale Collection of Historical Sound Recordings seeks to collect, preserve, and make available for study historical recordings of performers important in Western classical music, jazz, American musical theater, drama, literature, history, and oratory. HSR holds more than 200,000 recordings in a variety of formats, from the beginning of the recording era to the present. It also contains a library of printed materials and microforms offering information about composers, performers, and the recording industry. HSR administers the American Musical Theatre Collection, which incorporates the Cole Porter and E.Y. Harburg Collections as well as other scores, sheet music, manuscripts, books, memorabilia, and recordings.