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 strengths in the history of Christianity, biblical studies, and Christian theology as well as a growing collection of materials in practical theology. 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 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 Day Missions Library, the Trowbridge Reference Library, and the Sneath Library of Religious Education.
The Day Missions Collection at YDS is one of the strongest mission collections in the world. 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 comprises about one third of the Divinity Library’s volumes and constitutes the bulk of its manuscript and archival collections. Its scope has expanded from a narrow focus on the history of Christian mission to the degree that the Day Missions Collection is now one of the preeminent collections documenting the thought, history, and practice of world Christianity. The Day Missions Room—among the most recognizable spaces in the Divinity Quadrangle—is home to a selection of the library’s holdings in the history of Christian mission.
The Divinity Library also creates and maintains extensive and growing collections of digital photographs, annual reports, periodicals, manuscripts, and pamphlets mostly related to the history of Christian missions and world Christianity.
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.