Explore Collections

These Yale collections are devoted to acquiring and providing access to primary source materials. See the Find & Discover section of this website for tips on how to identify primary sources in these collections as well as in the general library collections. View a map showing collection locations.

Babylonian clay tablet
Old Babylonian recipes (c. 1750). Yale Babylonian Collection, YBC 4644.

Babylonian Collection

The Yale Babylonian Collection consists of 45,000 items, including cuneiform tables, cylinder seals, and other artifacts, as well as a complete reference library, seminar room, and work space for visiting scholars. It is the largest collection of artifacts from ancient Mesopotamia in the United States and one of the leading collections in the world. Students are encouraged to include texts or objects from the collection in their dissertations or post-doctoral research.

Visit the Babylonian Collection.

Books on shelves
A selection of Italian language books on the shelves at Bass Library.

Bass Library

Containing nearly 150,000 volumes, the Bass Library holds published material on subjects most commonly taught in Yale College. Examples of primary source materials that can be found in this collection include autobiographies, published collections of original documents such as photographs and correspondence, eyewitness accounts of travel and exploration, personal narratives of experiences in war, documentaries on DVD, and graphic novels.

Visit the Bass Library.

Illuminated manuscript in early Gothic bookhand
Missal, Use of Beauvais (c. 1150). Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library

The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library is Yale University’s principal repository for literary papers and for early manuscripts and rare books in the fields of literature, theology, history, and the natural sciences. In addition to its general collection of rare books and manuscripts, the library houses the Yale Collection of American Literature, the Yale Collection of German Literature, the Yale Collection of Western Americana, and the Osborn Collection (English literary and historical manuscripts from the Anglo-Saxon period to the twentieth century). The Beinecke’s collections afford opportunities for interdisciplinary research in such fields as medieval, Renaissance, and early modern studies, art history, photography, American studies, the history of printing, and modernism in art and literature.

Visit the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Title page of report of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (1978)
The Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, 1978 Annual Report. Document from the Economic Growth Center Collection, housed at the Center for Science and Social Science Information.

Center for Science and Social Science Information

CSSSI’s collection includes government documents of the United States, Canada, and the United Nations as well as publications of the World Bank, IMF, OECD, and other IGOs. It also includes numeric data resources such as surveys of public opinion, economic behavior, and electoral behavior; census and demographic data; economic and social indicators; trade data; elections data; and geospatial data. Other data currently collected by CSSSI includes remote sensing data and ecological indicators. The CSSSI StatLab also provides resources for researchers to analyze and interpret data from these collections.

Visit the CSSSI.

Loeb Classical Library editions
Loeb Classical Library editions in Classics Library stacks.

Classics Library

This library’s collections and services support the study of Greco-Roman antiquity at Yale University. Primary source materials that can be found at the Classics Library include original language editions and translations of texts by ancient Greek and Roman authors and publications of epigraphic, papyrological, numismatic, and archaeological sources from antiquity.

Visit the Classics Library.

Poster of doctor examining patient
An example from the Historical Medical Poster collection: A complete examination omits no detail. Cushing/Whitney Medical Library.

 Cushing/Whitney Medical Library

The Cushing/Whitney Medical Library serves the biomedical and health care information needs of the Yale-New Haven Medical Center and the University, as well as providing service to area physicians and medical libraries. The collections cover clinical medicine and its specialties, the pre-clinical sciences, public health, nursing, and related fields.

Visit the Cushing/Whitney Medical Library.

Cushing Center: Home of the Cushing Brain Tumor Registry, a historical teaching collection created by Dr. Harvey Cushing–often referred to as the “father of modern neurosurgery.” The Cushing Center displays selections of materials from an archival collection of over 2,200 case studies which includes human whole brain specimens, tumor specimens, microscopic slides, notes, journal excerpts, and over 15,000 photographic negatives dating from the late 1800s to 1936. The registry a unique resource that documents the history of neurological medicine from its beginning.

Visit the Cushing Center.

Medical Historical Library: Includes printed books and manuscripts relating to the history of medicine, including rare medical works, pamphlets and medical ephemera, patent medicine advertising, prints, posters, and drawings, medical and scientific instruments, and weights and measures. Special strengths are the works of Hippocrates, Galen, Vesalius, Boyle, Harvey, Culpeper, Haller, Priestley, and S. Weir Mitchell, and works on anesthesia, smallpox inoculation, and vaccination. The library owns over 50 medieval and renaissance manuscripts, Arabic and Persian manuscripts, and over 300 medical incunabula.   Manuscript collections include parts of the Harvey Cushing papers, and the John Fulton diaries and notebooks.

Visit the Medical Historical Library.

Photograph of farmers crossing a river on a wooden bridge
Lantern slide of Chinese farmers crossing a river. Rolland and Lottie Welch Papers, Record Group No. 224, Special Collections, Yale Divinity School Library.

Divinity Library

The Yale Divinity Library supports teaching and research in disciplines related to Christianity with particular strength in Bible, theology, and the history of Christianity. Primary source materials at the Divinity Library include published documentary sources for the history of Christianity throughout the world, as well as original and microform archival and manuscript resources particularly related to the following areas:

  • Records of Christian missionary activities overseas.

  • Records of Protestant Christian religious work among college and university students.

  • Personal papers of American clergy, evangelists, and religious leaders, particularly those involved in missions, ecumenical work, or student work, those from the New England area, and those of Congregational background.

  • Personal papers of Yale Divinity School faculty, deans, and prominent alumni.

The Special Collections department also oversees the library’s rare book, hymnal, Bible, and pamphlet collections.

Visit the Yale Divinity Library.

Visit the Yale Divinity Library Special Collections.

Video stills of a man and two women
Rachel G. Holocaust Testimony (HVT-139), Edmund M. Holocaust Testimony (HVT-1219), Edith P. Holocaust Testimony (HVT-107). Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, Yale University Library.

Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies

The Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies is a collection of over 4,400 interviews with witnesses and survivors of the Holocaust, comprising over 10,000 recorded hours of videotape. These testimonies were produced in cooperation with 37 affiliated projects across North America, South America, Europe, and Israel.

 

The collection began in 1979 when a grassroots organization called the Holocaust Survivors Film Project began videotaping survivors and witnesses in New Haven, Connecticut. In 1981, the original collection of testimonies was deposited at Yale University, and the archive opened its doors to the public the following year. Since then, the Fortunoff Archive has worked to record, collect, and preserve Holocaust witness testimonies, and to make its collection available to researchers, educators, and the general public.

Visit the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies.

19th-century music manuscript
Felix Mendelssohn, 1809-1847. Lied ohne Worte. Page 1, Op. 19. No. 2. Manuscript, 1830. Misc. Ms. 423. Gilmore Music Library.

Gilmore Music Library

Primary source materials that can be found in the general music collection include autobiographies, published collections of original documents such as photographs and correspondence, eyewitness accounts documenting performance practices of the past, musical scores and recordings, facsimile reproductions of manuscripts and rare editions, and many other items.

Visit the Gilmore Music Library.

Special Collections: The Music Library’s Special Collections provide students and researchers with a world-class collection of primary source material in music, including manuscripts, archives and personal papers, historical sound recordings, and rare editions. 

Visit the Music Library’s Special Collections.

Other collections in Music: 

Photograph of vinyl Berliner recording
A Berliner 7" 78rpm recording (c. 1895), representing the earliest efforts to capture musical sound through recordings. Yale Collection of Historical Sound Recordings.

Historical Sound Recordings

The purpose of this collection is to collect, preserve, and make available for study historical recordings of performers important in the fields of Western classical music, jazz, American musical theater, drama, literature, and history (including oratory).  The recordings document performance practice from the beginning of the recording era (c. 1890) to the present day. 

Visit the Historical Sound Recordings.

Photograph of bust of Abraham Lincoln with volume of territorial papers
Territorial papers of the United States in the Sterling Memorial Library History Seminar Room.

Humanities Collections

Primary sources relating to the humanities can be found throughout Yale’s library and museum collections, with the majority of this material being housed in Sterling Memorial Library. A research consultation with a librarian can be helpful as a guide to locating this material through the online catalog.

Visit the Humanities Collections.

Japanese illustrated manuscript with a boat at sea
Hie Sannō rishōki. Manuscript (Japan, 19th century). East Asia Library Special Collections.

International Collections

Yale is strong in primary source materials from nearly every corner of the globe. In addition to related materials found throughout the Yale libraries and museums, a large collection of primary-source material is located in the stacks of Sterling Memorial Library in a variety of formats, including print, microfilm, and digital. Electronic full-text resources can be identified through Orbis, the online catalog. Subject specialist librarians have created research guides to assist researchers in finding primary sources in vernacular and Western languages, accessible through the library’s webpage. A research consultation with a subject specialist librarian can be helpful in locating this material.

Visit the International Collections.

Etching with hand coloring
The Bombardinian by James Gillray. Prints and Drawings, Lewis Walpole Library.

Lewis Walpole Library

The Lewis Walpole Library is a research center for eighteenth-century studies and an essential resource for the study of Horace Walpole and Strawberry Hill. The library’s collections cover all aspects of eighteenth-century British culture with important holdings of prints, drawings, manuscripts, rare books, paintings, and decorative arts. Rare books include approximately half of the volumes from Walpole’s own library, and the print collection is one of the most important collections of eighteenth-century British visual satire anywhere, the largest outside the UK, with the most complete collection of fine-impression prints by Hogarth in the US. Given to Yale by Wilmarth Sheldon Lewis (1895-1979) and Annie Burr Lewis (1902-1959), the Lewis Walpole Library is located in Farmington, Connecticut.

Visit the Lewis Walpole Library.

Title page of Acts Passed at a Congress
Title page of Acts Passed at a Congress of the United States of America (1791). Lillian Goldman Law Library.

Lillian Goldman Law Library

The Yale Law Library supports the needs of twenty-first-century legal researchers by integrating access to print and online sources throughout the library. Primary sources in this collection include United States government documents related to law and policy and major reference works produced by the government. The library also provides access to a wide variety of other primary source materials including collections of treaties, court records, resources on foreign law, and a variety of collections of original documents both in print and online. The library of the Kuttner Institute of Medieval Canon Law includes over 700 microfilms of medieval manuscripts and a large reference collection.

Visit the Lillian Goldman Law Library.

Rare Book Collection: The Law Library’s Rare Book Collection holds historical law books and manuscripts including collections of Anglo-American law, Roman and canon law, legal manuscripts from the twelfth to the twentieth century, and the works of Sir William Blackstone (1723-1780). The collection also includes the largest gathering of Italian statutes outside of Italy, a large collection of visual culture related to the law, and over four thousand published trial reports.

Visit the Law Library Rare Book Collection.

Ingalls Rink pencil sketch
Original pencil perspective sketch by Saarinen on yellow tablet paper of the David S. Ingalls Rink. Eero Saarinen Collection (MS 593), Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library.

Manuscripts and Archives

This collection includes original manuscripts and archival materials relating to a wide variety of topics in the humanities, sciences, and social sciences. For the United States, the fields of social commentary, diplomatic history, legal history, health policy, environmental policy, architecture history, and the history and culture of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people are especially well documented.

International collections of note document the history of colonial Latin America, especially Peru and Mexico, and the history of southern Africa. The collection also includes the official records of Yale University.

Visit the Manuscripts and Archives.

Other collections in Manuscripts and Archives: 

Math books on shelves
A selection of dissertations on shelves in the Mathematics Library.

Mathematics Library

The Mathematics Library acquires books, conference proceedings, and journals in the area of pure mathematics. Primary source materials found in this collection include dissertations and collected works.

Visit the Mathematics Library.

Reel of microfilm on opened drawer
One of more than 700,000 reels of microfilm in the Microfom Reading Room.

Microform Reading Room

The reading room contains one of the largest collections of its kind, and is an especially rich source of newspapers and other primary source material. Collections include the papers of Winston Churchill, the NAACP, Planned Parenthood, and government agencies, as well as other organizations. The collection also includes documents preserved through Yale’s Cambodian Genocide Program.

Visit the Microform Reading Room.

Photograph of an analog reel-to-reel tape recorder and various digital recorders
Various digital recorders used to conduct interviews. Oral History of American Music.

Oral History of American Music

Oral History of American Music (OHAM) collects and preserves audio and video memoirs in the voices of major musical figures of our time.  Since its founding in the 1960s, OHAM has been dedicated to preserving the sound of artists’ voices and making this primary source material available to the public. In-depth interviews by OHAM staff with the artists are recorded, cataloged, transcribed, and kept at the archive.

Visit the Oral History of American Music.

Blue Morpho butterfly
Blue Morpho butterfly. Peabody Museum of Natural History.

Peabody Museum of Natural History

As a resource and catalyst for interdisciplinary research on the earth’s history and environment, the Peabody Museum’s collections include a wide variety of anthropological artifacts as well as collections of minerals, fossils, zoological materials, and historical scientific instruments. The museum’s collections are a major component of the research and teaching activities at Yale. Curators, staff, and students are engaged in contributing new knowledge based on the museum’s collections and making this knowledge available to the general public and to specialized audiences.

The Yale Peabody Museum fills many important roles on the Yale campus by offering a “front door” to the University for the general public. The museum’s collections are searchable through multiple online catalogs from Peabody’s Collections Portal to the Cross Collection Discovery to the Yale Finding Aid Database.

Visit the Peabody Museum of Natural History.

Printed color wheel
Plate from Cercles chromatiques (1861). Faber Birren Collection of Books on Color, Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library.

Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library

The Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library’s collections support the instructional and research needs of Yale University’s School of Art, School of Architecture, Department of the History of Art, and the Yale University Art Gallery. The Arts Library maintains circulating, non-circulating, and special collections and also provides image support services. Examples of primary sources include publications of artists’ autobiographies, diaries, correspondence, and interviews; facsimiles of artists’ sketchbooks and notebooks; exhibition catalogs and pamphlets; lantern slides, 35mm slides, photographs, and 370,000 digital images documenting global art, architecture, and material culture; fine press and artists’ books; manuscript and archival holdings on the book arts; rare research materials on art and architecture; the Faber Birren Collection of Books on Color; and the Yale Bookplate Collection.

Visit the Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library.

Oil painting of a ship in harbor
Joseph Mallord William Turner, 1775–1851. Dort or Dordrecht: The Dort Packet-Boat from Rotterdam Becalmed. 1818. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.

Yale Center for British Art

The Yale Center for British Art holds the largest and most comprehensive collection of British art outside the United Kingdom, presenting the development of British art and culture from the Elizabethan period to the present day. Together with the Reference Library and Archives, the museum’s collections of paintings, sculpture, drawings, prints, rare books, and manuscripts provide an exceptional resource for understanding the story of British art.

Visit the Yale Center for British Art.

Stringed instrument in the shape of peacock
Mayuri, South Indian, Late 19th century. The Belle Skinner Collection, Yale Collection of Musical Instruments.

Yale Collection of Musical Instruments

One of the foremost institutions of its kind, the collection acquires, preserves, and exhibits musical instruments from antiquity to the present, featuring restored examples in demonstration and live performance. An important resource for the music curricula of the University, it also serves as a resource for courses taught in art, architecture, acoustics, engineering, European history, and environmental studies. Lectures, tours, and concerts are offered throughout the year.

Visit the Yale Collection of Musical Instruments.

Film reels stacked on shelves
Stacks of film reels. Photograph taken by Brian Meacham of the Film Study Center.

Yale Film Study Center

The Yale Film Study Center, an associate of the International Federation of Film Archives, is committed to fostering a robust film culture at Yale through collection, preservation, access, and exhibition. The center houses more than 30,000 Blu-rays, DVDs, and VHS tapes, as well as more than 150 published screenplays. The film archive contains more than 5,000 35mm and 16mm prints, and is featured in the monthly public series, “Treasures from the Yale Film Archive.” Blu-rays, DVDs, and VHS tapes are available for students and faculty to borrow, and for all members of the Yale community to view onsite.

Visit the Yale Film Study Center.

Painting of reclining young woman
Éduoard Manet, Reclining Young Woman in Spanish Costume, 1862–63. Oil on canvas. Yale University Art Gallery, Bequest of Stephen Carlton Clark, B.A. 1903.

Yale University Art Gallery

The Yale University Art Gallery, the oldest college art museum in the United States, was founded in 1832 when the patriot-artist John Trumbull gave more than 100 of his paintings to Yale College. Since then its collections have grown to more than 200,000 objects ranging in date from ancient times to the present. In addition to its world-renowned collections of American paintings and decorative arts, the museum is noted for outstanding collections of Greek and Roman art, including artifacts from the ancient Roman city of Dura-Europos; collections of early Italian paintings; the Société Anonyme Collection of twentieth-century European and American art; modern and contemporary art and design; Asian art; African art; art of the ancient Americas; and Indo-Pacific art.

Visit the Yale University Art Gallery.