Collections

The Yale Divinity Library is one of the world’s great theological libraries. It is responsible for building Yale’s research collections in most areas related to the study of Christianity. The Divinity Library has particular strengths in the history of Christianity, biblical studies, and Christian theology (both historical and constructive). Its collections now total more than 600,000 bound volumes, more than 270,000 pieces of microform, and significant electronic holdings. In addition, the Divinity Library’s special collections hold more than 5,500 linear feet of manuscript and archival materials as well as many antiquarian and rare books and pamphlets. Holdings in the areas of the history of Christian mission, student volunteer movements, and New England clergy and theology are particularly strong. The Divinity Library collections were recently expanded by the acquisition of books and manuscripts from Andover Newton Theological School. The Andover Newton materials also included a large collection of Jonathan Edwards manuscripts that are now housed in Beinecke Library.

The Divinity Library traces its origins to the construction of the Sterling Divinity Quadrangle in 1932. At that time, three collections were moved to the School’s new location at 409 Prospect Street: the Trowbridge Reference Library, the Sneath Library of Religious Education, and the Day Missions Library. With that move, the new Divinity Library began to serve as Yale’s main location for Christian materials in the fields of historical and constructive theology, biblical studies, and church history. These historical collections reflect a tradition of library service that continues today in the Trowbridge Reading Room, the Ministry Resource Center, and the Day Missions Library.

The Day Missions Library is the most distinctive and strongest collection of its kind. It was established in 1891 by George Edward Day, a professor of Hebrew language and literature, and his wife, Olivia Hotchkiss Day. In 1932 the collection included more than 20,000 volumes—about two thirds of the Divinity Library’s original collection. The Day collection has continued to grow over the years, with support from the Day endowment and, since 1981, with income from a fund established by Kenneth Scott Latourette, a professor of missions. The Day Missions Collection today makes up a healthy percentage of the Divinity Library’s volumes and constitutes the bulk of its manuscript and archival collections. Its scope has expanded from a fairly narrow focus on the history of Christian mission to become one of the preeminent collections documenting the thought, history, and practice of world Christianity. The Day Missions Room—one of the most recognizable spaces in the Divinity Quadrangle—is home to a selection of the library’s holdings in the history of Christian mission.

Also housed at the Yale Divinity Library is the Ministry Resource Center, a specialized collection of books on pastoral ministry as well as Sunday school curricula, Bible study guides, games, and vacation Bible school materials. The library continues to acquire these materials; however, many of them are increasingly found online. As a result, the library’s emphasis is shifting away from supporting a traditional resource center, moving toward the addition of more scholarly and semi-scholarly works on pastoral ministry and developing greater facility with online materials.

Resources found elsewhere at Yale bearing upon the work of YDS include approximately 100,000 volumes classed as religion in Sterling Memorial Library, with another 100,000 in the Library Shelving Facility. The wider collections contain a wealth of scholarly periodicals and publications of learned societies, including source material on the Protestant Reformation, Byzantine and Orthodox literature, Judaica, and early Americana. The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library includes prime collections such as the James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection of Negro Arts and Letters and extensive collections on Mormonism, Cardinal John Henry Newman, and the Tractarian Movement. The Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library has resources on Christian art, and the Yale University Art Gallery contains examples of some of the earliest known Christian art. The Music Library features the Lowell Mason Collection of Hymnology. Special collections within Sterling Memorial Library also include archaeological resources bearing on biblical studies and Christian origins and the ancient Near East in general. Resources to support 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. Yale students have access to all Yale Library collections as well as circulating materials, which can be transported to any Yale library to be checked out and returned.