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Series IV: Benefactors, 1700-1963

Call Number: RU 151, Series IV

Scope and Contents

The BENEFACTORS series contains all treasurer's records (excluding correspondence) relating to gifts, donations, and bequests, both those designated for special purpose and those contributed to the general endowment. The series is arranged in four sub-series:

General Histories


Special Gifts

Estates Completed

General Histories is composed of compilations of information on the history of gifts to Yale. Most of the histories give a chronological list of donors along with the amounts and stipulations on the donation. Of particular interest is a volume in the hand of Ezra Stiles and others which contains, in addition to a list of gifts, lists of the library'sholdings and of philosophical apparatus, copies of honorary degrees, and the wording of the diplomas. The volume called "Histories and stipulations of donations and funds, ca. 1746-1908" is also noteworthy, containing information, duplicated elsewhere, on funds created from 1888-1908. An index in the volume provides an alphabetical list of the included funds. The sub-series is arranged in rough chronological order according to the records" creation dates.

Subscriptions encompasses the records of many campaigns for financial support, both for general endowments and for special purposes, addressed to the multitude of Yale supporters. The records of any particular campaign usually include a list of subscribers with their pledges and may include the purposes and terms of donations, accounts of payments received and pledges unpaid, and notes by campaign agents on their travels and responses to their requests. (The accounting records of income and expenses of some campaigns are found in Series V, INVESTMENTS.)

library. These records are arranged alphabetically by name of the project or fund.

Special Gifts contains records of a few large or unusual gifts made by individuals during their lifetimes. The donations of Richard Salter and Timothy Dwight Porter came in the form of land and are particularly well documented. Salter proposed that the income derived from his gift of a farm in Windham, Connecticut, be used to promote the study of Hebrew and other oriental languages in Yale College. Porter'sgift put the use of a square block of Manhattan real estate under Yale's control. (In CORRESPONDENCE, 1841-1888: Select there are many letters from Thomas Thacher concerning this gift.) Sheldon Clark'sgifts in the form of assigned mortgages were the largest to that point in the college'shistory and created an endowed professorship and the first fellowships for non-professional postgraduate study. The histories of the DeForest, Hillhouse, and Leffingwell scholarship funds are also detailed in this sub-series. Papers respecting the John Trumbull and William Augustus Hillhouse annuities document how Yale came to own its fine collection of John Trumbull paintings and a large quantity of undeveloped real estate in New Haven. The records of the sub-series are arranged alphabetically by name of the donation or fund. (Correspondence concerning individual gifts will be found in CORRESPONDENCE, Filing Code: #239.)

Estates Completed is by far the largest sub-series in this series. Most of the files date from the 1880s to 1950 with a few files earlier and later than these dates. The sub-series contains records of only those estates that had been settled at the time of the last transfer of records from the treasurer's office to Manuscripts and Archives. As of 1979 the sub-series Estates Completed was closed. Any completed estate papers that were retained by the office after this date, even those dating much earlier, will not be added to this sub-series. Instead they will be considered as part of the records of the Treasury Services (YRG5-E), the office where they are now filed.

The files in this sub-series are arranged alphabetically by the name of the testator. Most files contain only a copy of the will or a note of what the treasurer reported to the corporation concerning the estate. In some instances there may be court proceedings and accounts compiled by the executors. In a few instances, usually where the treasurer or someone from the university acted as an executor, an estate'srecords may become voluminous. In such cases the files could contain personal papers, executor'scorrespondence, account books, and may other papers that an executor'smight have kept. Examples of such files include those for the estates of Edward Augustus Bowers, Sheldon Clark, Henry L. Ellsworth, William Lampson, Elias Loomis, Edla McPherson, O. C. Marsh, Mary Ann Goodman, and Augustus Russell Street. The files for the Edward S. Harkness estate are also very detailed.

Though a few items of correspondence will be found in these files most correspondence concerning estates has been filed in the CORRESPONDENCE series. During the years ca. 1907 - 1937 the treasurer kept most correspondence on completed estates in subject files which are now Series III, Filing Code: #238. A few other estates" correspondence files were filed individually under the name of the estate in this code. The folder list which follows includes cross-references to the appropriate files in the CORRESPONDENCE series.


  • 1700-1963

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Language of Materials

From the Collection: English


Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

Yale University Library
P.O. Box 208240
New Haven CT 06520-8240 US
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(203) 432-7441 (Fax)


Sterling Memorial Library
Room 147
120 High Street
New Haven, CT 06511

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