Yale’s Archives & Manuscripts

Day 2: Feeling rather scholarly

Walking through the giant wooden doors of Sterling Memorial Library this morning was an awe-inspiring experience. There was just something surreal about pulling the big iron door handles and stepping under the intricately carved stone entrance-way beneath William Osler‘s words “The Library is the Heart of the University” – it’s just not experience I have on a regular basis.

I wasn’t prepared for the grandeur of the interior of Yale University‘s social science and humanities library – based on the arched ceilings, stained glass, and extraordinary Gothic details I was certain the building was a re-purposed cathedral. It turns out that it was built in 1930 on the design of James Gamble Rogers, a Yale alumni. The second largest university library in North America, it holds over 12.5 million volumes – and is home to the Manuscripts and Archives collection.

I wish I’d gotten a photo of the reading room for the Archives – it continued the scholarly feeling that the building oozed (photo bottom left features the hallway to the archives). It was a strict environment though: only laptops and cameras allowed – no outside paper permitted. It actually raised some difficulties for me because I had a list of which folders I wanted to see in each of the boxes I’d requested but couldn’t bring this in with me – I eventually left the room to copy down the list onto their paper so that I could bring it in with me and then later realized the guest internet access with which I could get the list out of email. The experience threw me though and made me realize that I need to keep an electronic copy of my requests accessible on my computer in case of similar circumstances in the future.

I was poking through a couple of different history of psychology related collections today: some folders from Robert Yerkes‘ papers, some reports by Walter Miles, and I even got to look through some Piaget photographs at the end of the day (ended early with the boxes I’d pulled so I was helping Jeremy out)

The only downside was that somebody stole Jeremy’s umbrella out of the coat room attached to the reading room.  I couldn’t believe it – one of our own! It just seemed so wrong.

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