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Linguistics: Rare Books, Manuscripts & Archives

Searching for rare books & manuscripts at Yale

Rare primary sources can be a challenge to identify. Not so at Yale. Use one or more of the following three tools to obtain the bibliographic information you need quickly and easily: 


1. Start your search in Orbis, as you would any other search. Rare books, cataloged manuscripts and some archival collections will be listed here irrespective of their physical location on campus. For general tips on how to best search Orbis, click here.


  2.  For manuscripts and archival materials, your next stop is the Yale Finding Aid Database. This database searches the full text of finding aids for archival and manuscript materials at Yale University. Finding aids are guides that provide information about the creation, historical context, arrangement, and content of archival and manuscript collections, as well as the information necessary for users to identify and request the portions relevant to their research.


Holdings of the following Yale repositories are represented in the Finding Aid Database:


Manuscripts and Archives (Sterling Memorial Library)


Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library Special Collections


Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library


Historical Library, Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library


Yale Divinity School Library


Irving S. Gilmore Music Library


Visual Resources Collection



3. For primary source collections that Yale has digitized, go to Digital Collections. It provides a cross-collection search tool that retrieves results from over 500,000 images in selected Library Digital Collections at various Yale repositories.

Additional search tools for archival materials at Yale

Copyright-free picture for private, academic or research purposes



Some materials in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library are not represented in the above-mentioned catalogs, so make sure to also check these additional resources:


    •  The Uncataloged Acquisitions (Beinecke materials only) is a database containing records with brief information for uncataloged printed, archival and manuscript material acquired from 1985 until the present, although the database includes some earlier acquisitions as well.


    •  Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts at the Beinecke are now searchable in a separate database.



The following collections are housed in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. You may click on the title to access the relevant entry in Orbis:

  • Cleanth Brooks Papers: Cleanth Brooks was one of the founders of New Criticism, editor of The Southern Review, professor at Louisiana State University and Yale University, Faulkner scholar, educator,and lecturer.  His papers contain correspondence, manuscripts of books, textbooks, essays, lectures, and various other shorter works, classroom material, professional papers, writings of others, and personal papers.
  • Notes and proofs for Les Deux Masques and Other Writings: A major part of the material is the manuscript notes for Les Deux Masques, a collection of critical essays on the theater (tragedy and comedy), including discussions of Aeschylus, Shakespeare, Euripides, Aristophanes and Racine, written by Paul de Saint-Victor. Also in this volume are notes concerning painting (Dürer, Michaelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci) and history.

Archives and manuscript collections outside Yale

Interested in manuscripts and archival materials outside of Yale? Use the following catalogs/databases to locate primary source collections in Europe, as well as elsewhere in the US and the world:

Archive Finder    

A current directory which describes over 220,000 collections of primary source material housed in thousands of repositories across the United States, the United Kingdom and Ireland.


ArchiveGrid describes primary sources for material on family and corporate histories, personal papers, and historical records with direct search access to dispersed collections and collection descriptions. Locate relevant research institutions, arrange visits, or request copies from libraries, museums, and archives worldwide.

Bibliothecae codicum medii aevi

Database of mediaeval libraries and manuscripts in Germany and other countries in Europe. An approach to reconstructing mediaeval libraries based on the present manuscript tradition.

Scriptores possessoresque codicum medii aevi

Database providing information on scribes and owners of mediaeval manuscripts in Europe. Information and Search interface in Latin and in German. Biographical information on and list of manuscripts produced by more than 33800 scribes; biographical information on and list of manuscripts owned by more than 15000 manuscript collectors/owners. Also single manuscripts searchable for scribe and ownership.

Archives and manuscripts at Yale

The following collections are located in Sterling's Manuscripts and Archives, just inside the Wall Street Entrance to SML. Some finding aids for these documents are unpublished, but are available there for reference. Click on the collection title to access the online catalog file. These links are available through Orbis.


  • Charles Frederick Tucker Brooke Papers: Charles Frederick Tucker Brooke taught in Yale University's English Department from 1909-1946. He published works on English literature and drama, including studies of Marlowe, Shakespeare, and Gager. The papers consist of writings, note-cards, printed material, and correspondence with Joseph Quincy Adams, John Bakeless, and John LeGay Brereton, among others.
  • Clarence Whittlesey Mendell Papers: Clarence W. Mendell was professor of Latin and Greek from 1911-1952 at Yale University, and was professor emeritus from 1952-1963. The papers include:  Translations and notes of Latin and Greek classics; essays on classical authors; and a few pieces of correspondence and poetry.
  • Franco-American Review Papers: The Franco-American Review was a quarterly devoted to history, literature, and criticism. It was first published in June of 1936 in New Haven, Connecticut, jointly edited by American and French scholars and critics.
  • Gustav Gruener Papers: Gustav Gruener served as chairman of the Department of Germanic Languages, 1920-1928. The papers consist of correspondence, professional papers, writings, notes taken as a student in Germany, and teaching materials. There are numerous letters besides from European scholars, including Ernst Mayer, Friedrich von der Leyen, Max Friedländer and Hanns Oertel, among others. Also included is his correspondence with Yale scholars Arthur T. Hadley, Anson P. Stokes, Wilbur L. Cross, William Walker, Russell Chittenden, Henry S. Graves, James R. Angell and Charles Seymour.
  • Leonard Bloomfield Papers: Leonard Bloomfield was a professor of linguistics at Yale University from 1940 to 1949.  His papers include correspondence, writings, and notebooks related to his professional interests. The largest part of the collection consists of a sequence of forty- four notebooks, each devoted to a language or a linguistic problem. Three unpublished articles by Bloomfield are also included.

Archives in foreign countries

To find specialized archives in foreign languages and literatures, consult the following LibGuides (developed by me):