Librarian, Yale University records
Scope and Contents
The records consist of the central administrative files of the Yale University Library, correspondence, memoranda, reports dealing with all aspects of library business and historical photographs from library events. Records for the earlier years appear to be part of a central filing system for the library, while those in later years primarily reflect the activities of the university librarian's office.
Conditions Governing Access
While this collection as a whole is available for research, parts of it may be restricted due to law, university policy or fragility. Any restricted material will be noted as such.
Some records in this finding aid have been redacted, as they include student names, donor names, and other restricted data. These records will not appear in the published finding aid.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The materials were transferred from the university librarian's office.
518.33 Linear Feet (1067 boxes)
Language of Materials
The records consist of the central administrative files of the Yale University Library, correspondence, memoranda, and reports dealing with all aspects of library business and historical photographs from library events. Records for the earlier years appear to be part of a central filing system for the library, while those in later years primarily reflect the activities of the university librarian's office.
Biographical / Historical
The Yale Library has been the heart of the university ever since, according to tradition, ten ministers met at the house of Reverend Samuel Russel in Branford in 1701 and contributed 40 books to found Yale College. The books were taken to Killingworth in 1704 where the Rector Abraham Pierson resided and then upon his death in 1707 to Saybrook, the seat of the College, where they remained until 1718. At that time the College was to move to New Haven, but the people of Saybrook forcibly resisted the transfer of books. Many volumes and papers were lost in the scramble.
The Senior Tutor acted as Librarian until 1805 and received an extra five pounds to his yearly salary for sorting and cataloguing the books. The tutor's efforts at book acquisition were aided by several large gifts of books from prominent people such as Jeremiah Drummer, Elihu Yale, and Bishop George Berkeley so that by 1742 when Rector Thomas Clap and Tutor John Worthington compiled the first library catalogue, there were 2,600 volumes. This grew to 4,000 volumes by 1765.
During the Revolution three quarters of the Library's volumes were removed from New Haven for safe keeping from the enemy. Although they were painstakingly reassembled after the war, only 2,448 books had been recovered by 1782. After the war, donations picked up again. There was increasing need for book storage space because of aggressive acquisition on the part of early librarians and faculty members.
The librarians acted as the guiding force in the library's development. Prior to 1805 the Senior Tutor acted as Librarian. Prof. James L. Kingsley was named the first librarian in 1805 and remained in that position until 1824. Prof. J. W. Gibbs succeeded Kingsley until 1843. Edward Herrick served as Librarian from 1843-58 and D. C. Gilman from 1858-65. Gilman's resignation in 1865 brought in Addison Van Name until 1905. John Christopher Schwab was Librarian from 1905-16 and Andrew Keough was Librarian from 1916-38 through the 1930 move to the Sterling Library. The Records of subsequent librarians can be found in Records of the Librarian 1904-to the present.
A series of sites were used by the library after the college moved to New Haven. In 1718 the books were housed in a library on the 2nd floor, south end of the original Yale College building at the corner of College and Chapel Streets. As new buildings were constructed and the old deteriorated, library apace was provided on an upper floor af the First Chapel (Athenaeum) in 1783, in the rhetorical chamber of the Connecticut Lyceum in 1801, and in the attic of the Second Chapel in 1824. It wasn't until 1842 that the first separate library building (now Dwight Chapel) was constructed by architect Henry Austin.
The early library collected primarily in the sciences, classics, theology, English literature, mathematics, and philosophy, and restricted borrowing to the college officers, faculty members of the professional and scientific schools, and Junior and Senior classes. As a result literary society libraries were founded (Linonian 1753, Brothers-in-Unity 1768, Calliopean 1819) to supplement the college library. Their books on languages, modern history, literature and the arts were brought together with the Yale Library books under one roof upon construction of the Old Library. The central nave was used for the Yale Library and the two wings for the society libraries. This brought the aggregate number of books available to the Yale community to 35,000. By 1871 when the society libraries were brought under Yale library control this number had grown to 95,000 volumes and 20,000 pamphlets and expanded to 161,000 by 1884. By 1886 six thousand volumes were being added every year and a new library to house them was planned. In 1887 funds were provided for construction of the Chittenden Library designed by architect J.C. Cady. It was not many years after its completion in 1889 that more space was needed. Linsly Hall was built by architect Charles C. Haight in 1905 to connect the Old Library (Dwight Hall) with the Chittenden Library. As early as 1918 a new library was under discussion. In 1919 the Yale Corporation decided to construct the Sterling Memorial Library as the principal memorial to be erected from the John Sterling bequest. Construction was under the direction of James Gamble Rogers. The massive centrally located collegiate gothic library was built to house three and one half million volumes and allowed them to function truly as the center of the university.
Forms part of Yale Record Group 32-A (YRG 32-A), Central records of the Yale University Library and records of the librarian.
In addition to the catalogues and donation records housed in the Beinecke Rare Book Library there are several record groups within Manuscripts and Archives which can be consulted for library records and history.
- Day Family Mss 175
- James Luce Kingsley Mss 664
- Josiah H. Gibbs Mss 236
- Edward C. Herrick Mss 691
- Daniel Coit Gilman Mss 582
- Andrew Keough Mss 940
- Salisbury Family Mss 429
- Rice Family Mss 415
- Yale Misc O Misc. Harry Ostrander
- Treasurer's Records YRG 5-B
- Linonian Society YRG 40-A-96
- Brothers-in-Unity YRG 40-A-5
- Records of the Librarian YRG 32-C
- President's Papers YRG 2-A
- Records of the Provost YRG 3-A
- Records of the Corporation YRG 1-A
- Architectural Archives YRG 46-A
- Guide to the Librarian, Yale University, Records
- Under Revision
- compiled by Daniel Hartwig and staff of Manuscripts and Archives
- April 2008
- Description rules
- Finding Aid Created In Accordance With Manuscripts And Archives Processing Manual
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.
Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository
Yale University Library
P.O. Box 208240
New Haven CT 06520-8240 US
(203) 432-7441 (Fax)
Sterling Memorial Library
120 High Street
New Haven, CT 06511