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American Religious History: Yale Library Archives

An overview of resources available on American religious history at Yale Library.

Special Collections at Yale Divinity Library

The Yale Divinity Library's Special Collections include archival documentation of individuals, institutions, and organizations related to the history of Christianity in America.  A few examples of collections are listed here; use the discovery tools noted below to find more.  

  • Personal papers of clergy:
    • Dutton Family Papers: (RG63)
    • David Nelson Beach Papers: (RG60 A)
    • Gerald Beard Papers: (RG65)
    • Henry David Gray Papers:(RG52)
    • Various smaller collections in Miscellaneous Personal Papers Collection: (RG30)
  • Records of churches and religious organizations:
    • New England Church Records: (RG48)
    • Religious and Benevolent Societies and Organizations: (RG34)
    • Social Ethics Pamphlet Collection: (RG73)
    • Many missionary organizations
    • Many student Christian movement records

Use these tools to find  primary sources at Yale and elsewhere:

  • Orbis, the online catalog, contains records for primary source collections at Yale; use the Advanced Search option to limit the "Type" of material to "Archives or Manuscripts" or do a search and then use the "Filter your search" feature to find "Archives or Manuscripts."
  • Yale Finding Aid Database searches through all the text of the finding aids that describe archival and manuscript collections in the Yale libraries.
  • Worldcat is the most complete source for finding collections around the world.
  • Archive Grid searches through collection records and finding aids to collections, both at Yale and beyond.
  • Archive Finder is another tool for finding manuscript collections.  The best use of Archive Finder is the repository search, which you can use to find archives in specific geographic locations.
  • Connecticut Archives Online is a union catalog of archival collections held in Connecticut repositories.

Yale subscribes to various databases that provide access to primary source material online.  Some samples are listed below.

Newspapers and other published works can also be primary sources. Some examples of online resources of this type are listed below:

  • Accessible Archives: provides a searchable collection of American newspapers from the 18th & 19th Centuries
  • America's Historical Newspapers: This archive of American historical newspapers provides access to full text digitized versions of primary source material, Early American Newspapers, Series I, II, III, IV, and V. It includes titles from all 50 present states.
  • Early American Imprints, Series I: Evans: 1639-1800: has been hailed as the definitive resource for researching every aspect of 17th- and 18th-century America.
  • Early American Imprints, Series II: Shaw-Shoemaker: (1801-1819) provides full-text access to the 36,000 American books, pamphlets and broadsides published in the first nineteen years of the nineteenth century.

There are many good quality, freely available web resources such as the American Memory project of the Library of Congress and the Documenting the American South project of UNC.