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HIST 118J: U.S. Immigration Policy: History, Politics, and Activism, 1607-Present: Yale Library Archival Collections

This page is intended for students in Dr. Brendan Shanahan's course and provides an overview of resources in the Yale Library for your research assignments this semester.

Library Special Collections and the Archives at Yale Database

The Yale Library has seven different special collections units, all of which hold archival collections in addition to rare and unique books and other published and unpublished materials that can serve as primary sources for your research projects.

  • The Guide to Using Special Collections at Yale University is a great introduction to finding and using special collections and archives held at Yale for your research projects. 
  • The Archives at Yale database searches guides to over 8,000 archival collections held within Yale's special collections. You use this database to find and request boxes from archival collections, that you will then use in the relevant special collections reading room. Special collections materials, including archives, cannot be checked out.
  • The Primary Sources at Yale website is a great resource if you're not sure what types of materials might serve as primary sources for your research project. The section on database search strategies and using Advanced Search features is especially useful and will increase the power and focus of your database searches! Be aware that primary sources can be found in many library locations and resources other than the special collections units.

A Selection of Relevant Archival Collections at Yale

The following is a list, by no means comprehensive, of archival collections relating to immigration history and policy that are held in Yale’s special collections. Use Archives at Yale to search for other archival collections at Yale.

  • Click on collection titles below to link to the online finding aid for each collection. Specific collection materials, including information about the boxes/folders that contain them, are highlighted when relevant.
  • Abbreviations used: BRBL = Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, DIV = Divinity Library Special Collections, MSSA = Manuscripts and Archives.

American Immigration Conference Board Records (MS 614) MSSA: Correspondence, writings, printed materials, clippings, and other papers of the American Immigration Conference Board, an anti-communist organization devoted primarily to severely limiting immigration. The papers also contain materials relating to various immigration legislation during the 1930s.

  • Series II, Box 1, Folder 10 was used in the February 8 class session in the Gates classroom.
  • This entire collection has been digitized. Send an email to series #, box #, and folder #--if you would like to receive a PDF copy of any of the folders in the collection for your personal use.

A.P.A. Magazine (M10 Am 35), published in San Francisco, Volume 1 (1895)

William Kent Family Papers (MS 309) MSSA: Correspondence, writings, topical files, biographical files, scrapbooks, and other material relating to William Kent's businesses, political activities, and family. The papers document his activities as a municipal reformer in Chicago and Northern California; his interests in conservation, recreation, public control of water power, and opposition to Asian immigration; his campaigns for election to Congress; his service in the U.S. House of Representatives (1911-1917) and on the U.S. Tariff Commission; and his business interests in cattle ranches in Nebraska and Nevada.

Timothy Lester Woodruff Family Papers (MS 1229) MSSA: Family correspondence of John Woodruff and his son, Timothy Lester Woodruff. The collection includes several items documenting John Woodruff's career as a Congressman from Connecticut (1855-1857; 1859-1861) and his election on the nativist, anti-immigrant American Party ticket. 

  • Box 1, Folder 5b was used in the February 8 class session in the Gates classroom.

Potter Stewart Papers (MS 1367) MSSA: United States Supreme Court case files and supporting documentation, Appellate Court case files and supporting documentation, subject files, correspondence, writings, newspaper clippings, photographs, and audiovisual material that document Stewart's career as an associate justice of the Supreme Court and as a judge on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. 

Maurice Rea Davie Papers (MS 1359) MSSA: Correspondence and printed matter sent by the National Institute of Immigrant Welfare to Davie, a member of the Institute's Board of Directors. Most of the letters concern either requests for Davie to speak, or such routine business matters as committee meetings, dues, and financial problems.

  • Results from a search on immigra* within the Maurice Rea Davie Papers finding aid. Note the use of the asterisk (*) as a truncation operator - this searches all versions of words that begin with immigra (i.e., immigration, immigrant).

United States War Relocation Authority. Poston, Arizona, Relocation Center Collection (MS 803) MSSA:  Scrapbooks, record books, and memorabilia chiefly relating to the educational and library activities at the Relocation Center. Nine scrapbooks made and bound by the students document topics of academic study, student memoirs describing their feelings on being relocated, and Americanization agendas in school curriculum. A printed yearbook is also included.

Felix S. Cohen Papers (WA MSS S-1325) BRBL: The papers document Felix S. Cohen's professional career as a civil servant, private attorney, law professor, and author. Cohen (1907-1953) was a lawyer with special interest in natural resources, statehood and economic development for American territories, Indian affairs, immigration, and human rights. He received a B.A. from The City College of New York, an M.A. in philosophy from Harvard in 1927, a Ph.D. from Harvard in 1929, and a J.D. from Columbia Law School in 1931.

Harry Weinberger Papers (MS 553) MSSA: Correspondence, legal papers, notes, and other materials documenting Weinberger's career as a lawyer who specialized in civil liberties cases and, later in his career, copyright law. The one hundred and sixteen (116) case files include legal briefs, writs, and memoranda prepared by Weinberger and his staff, and similar material prepared by opposing attorneys, as well as materials relating to U.S. immigration and deportation policies. Correspondence files include letters with clients and individuals interested in a specific case. Weinberger's clients included: Alexander Berkman, Grover Cleveland Bergdoll, Emma Goldman, and Eugene O'Neill.

Dutton Family Papers (RG 63) DIV:  The collection is valuable for the documentation it provides concerning a New Haven area clergy family during the period 1800 to 1880. Daily events and family relationships are revealed in substantive family correspondence. Of particular interest are Samuel Dutton's notebooks from his student days at Yale. The bulk of the collection is comprised of manuscript sermons written by Aaron and Samuel Dutton during their pastorates in Guilford and New Haven. These sermons touch on topics such as slavery, the Civil War, "Millerism", temperance and immigration.

Right Wing Pamphlet Collection (MS 775) MSSA:  An collection of pamphlets, assembled by Manuscripts and Archives staff from a variety of sources, containing "conservative, reactionary, or right wing" publications on a wide range of topics including: China, anti-communism, Christian groups, race relations, immigration, and economics, 1917-2010.

Charles Nagel Papers (MS 364) MSSA: Correspondence, letterbooks, scrapbooks, writings, topical files, photographs, and clippings which document the career of Charles Nagel. The papers highlight Nagel's legal practice and detail his role as counsel to Adolphus Busch and the Anheuser-Busch breweries. Files relating to Nagel's cabinet term include discussions of patronage appointments and efforts to win support for President Taft's re-election through the foreign language press, and his concerns as secretary of commerce and labor, including the 1910 census, the abolition of pelagic sealing, and fair enforcement of immigration laws.

Social Ethics Pamphlet Collection (RG 73) DIV: Pamphlets, brochures, typescripts, booklets, comic books, posters, cartoons, letters, memoranda, offprints, etc., documenting various aspects of social issues, including immigration, in America and throughout the world during the mid-twentieth century. See especially the term “Nativism.”