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Yale Library COVID-19 updates.

Senior Essay in History: Home

Welcome to the YUL guide for the Senior Essay in History! Click on the link below to schedule an appointment with your research librarian, and take a few minutes to look at the resources and tools highlighted on these pages as you start your research.

Meet With Your Librarian

Click here to complete the online request form to schedule a Zoom meeting with your librarian. You will be asked what your research topic is and what times work best with your schedule. The appropriate subject specialist will reply to you via email.

Finding a Manageable Senior Essay Topic

Take a deep breath … you’re writing a senior essay, not a dissertation or a book! Here are some thoughts on keeping the process manageable throughout the coming academic year.

First, it usually takes some time at the outset to define a specific research topic. Engage with the ideas and arguments of the sources you're finding and think about where you'd like to join the scholarly conversation. Remember that the research process will often take you in unexpected directions, and that the interplay between your research questions and the sources you unearth is a cornerstone of historical research. Give yourself time to allow that interplay to happen during your senior essay research!

Some books that might prove useful:

Subject Specialists & Research Guides

Every subject taught at Yale has a librarian assigned to it. A list of these librarians, or "subject specialists," can be found here.

Subject specialists curate subject guides that are a great starting point in finding resources on your potential research topic. The guides bring together the most useful and important resources that are available, whether encyclopedias, bibliographies or other "reference" works, databases of primary and secondary sources, archival materials in special collections, or freely available websites created by libraries, museums, and academic centers around the world.

On the first page of a subject guide, you will generally find substantial information on subject-specific databases and other library resources. Every subject librarian organizes their guides a little differently, but most follow this approach. While Quicksearch and even Google are valuable tools for research, for a senior thesis it is essential to engage with these specialized databases and resources to thoroughly mine what is available for use in the research. Bear in mind that the publishers who create the databases and reference sources don’t always give them meaningful names that help you to understand what the resource could be useful for. Take time to explore the subject guides as they are chock-full of information and help.

Reach out to a subject specialist if you have questions about getting started!

Using the Yale Libraries in fall 2020

The Library Reopening FAQ contains the latest information and is updated regularly. Some key updates (Sept. 3, 2020):

For those authorized to be in the libraries, most general collections are open for browsing. The following reading rooms in Sterling Library are closed, with different ways to access collection materials:

  • All reading rooms and study spaces on the upper levels of Sterling are closed. Users may request scans of chapters and articles from these collections using Scan and Deliver.
  • The Microform Reading Room in Sterling Library is closed. To provide access to microform materials, we have set up a microform reader in Bass Library across from the service desk, and we are finalizing a system to request materials. Consult the Library Reopening FAQ for complete details.

Archives at Yale:  Across the library system, special collections reading rooms will be open by appointment only. The "Guide to Using Special Collections at Yale University" has links to request appointments at special collections reading rooms. All researchers must make a reading room seat reservation online at least 24 hours before they plan to visit. The planned hours for each special collection reading room are:

•    Arts Library Special Collections – Mon-Fri, 1:00-4:00 PM
•    Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library – Mon-Fri, 9:00 AM-4:30 PM
•    Divinity Library Special Collections – Mon-Fri, 10:00 AM-4:00 PM
•    Lewis Walpole Library – Mon-Fri, 9:30 AM-4:00 PM
•    Manuscripts and Archives – Mon-Fri, 10:00 AM-4:00 PM
•    Medical Historical Library – Mon-Fri, 10 AM-Noon & 1:00-4:30 PM

Music Library special collections materials will be available for research use in the Manuscripts and Archives reading room.


For questions about library services for your Senior Essay, contact James Kessenides at