In 1841 the Yale Corporation appointed alumnus Edward Elbridge Salisbury (class of 1832) as professor of Arabic and Sanskrit languages and literature, the first such position in the Americas. He was also among the earliest members of the American Oriental Society (founded in 1842), and energetically supported both the organization and its journal. His many benefactions to Yale include two endowed chairs: the professorship in Sanskrit that was later named for him, and the Silliman Professorship in Chemistry. After resigning his professorship in 1856, Salisbury continued to contribute to his alma mater through his involvement in the Library Committee and the advisory board of the School of Fine Art. In 1870 he gave Yale College his entire “Oriental Library,” consisting of hundreds of rare and early printed books and manuscripts. This valuable legacy enabled Yale to establish its strong research collections in languages of the Near East and South Asia, and became the core of what is now the third-largest collection of Islamic manuscripts in the United States.
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