About the Library

The Yale Divinity Library is one of the most important theological libraries in the world. It is responsible for building Yale's research collections in most areas related to the study of Christianity. The Day Missions Collection is the strongest collection of its kind, anywhere in the world.  In addition the Divinity Library has particular strength in Biblical studies, Christian theology (both historical and constructive), and the history of Christianity.  The Divinity Library collections now total:

  • more than 550,000 volumes of monographs, serials, and pamphlets
  • more than 270,000 pieces of microforms
  • nearly 5,000 linear feet of manuscript and archival materials

In addition, the Divinity Library has significant electronic collections, and growing collections of other non-print resources.

Historical Overview

Yale Divinity Library traces its origins to the construction of the Sterling Divinity Quadrangle in 1932. At that time, three collections were moved from the old Divinity Quadrangle to the School's new location at 409 Prospect Street: the Trowbridge Reference Library, the Sneath Library of Religious Education, and the Day Missions Library.

These three collections were each created for a special purpose; the Divinity School's basic library services were provided by the Sterling Memorial Library. Nevertheless, each of these collections reflects a tradition of library service that continues today.

The Trowbridge Reference Library

The Trowbridge Reference Library was established in 1881 as a non-circulating reference collection, as a memorial to Henry Stuart Trowbridge. Before its move to the Sterling Divinity Quadrangle, the collection was always quite small. At the time of the move it numbered 8,518 volumes. This collection formed the basis on which the Divinity Library's core collection was built, including:

  • A comprehensive reference collection for the study of religion
  • The core texts of theology, both in the original languages and in translation
  • An extensive collection of secondary literature

The Divinity Library’s core reference collection is now housed in the Trowbridge Reference Room, continuing the tradition of the Trowbridge Reference Library.

The Sneath Memorial Library of Religious Education

The Sneath Memorial Library of Religious Education was established in 1919 as a memorial for Richard Sheldon Sneath. In 1932 the collection included 4,428 volumes. From this collection grew Yale Divinity Library's collections supporting the practice of ministry. While the Divinity Library has not built a comprehensive research collection for the practice of ministry, the collection is still more than adequate for the purposes of the Divinity School. The incorporation of the Ministry Resource Center into the Divinity Library has increased our coverage of current resources for the practice of ministry.

The Day Missions Library

The Day Missions Library was established in 1891 by George Edward Day, a professor of Hebrew language and literature, and his wife, Olivia Hotchkiss Day. In 1932 the collection included 21,484 volumes -- some two thirds of the Divinity Library's original collection. This collection has continued to grow over the years, with support from the Day endowment and, since 1981, with income from a fund established by Kenneth Scott Latourette, a professor of missions.

The Day Missions Collection today makes up approximately one third of the Divinity Library's 550,000 volumes, and constitutes the bulk of its manuscript and archival collection.  Its scope has enlarged from a fairly narrow focus on training missionaries to become one of the preeminent collections documenting the thought, history, and practice of world Christianity. The Divinity Library's core collection documenting missions’ history and world Christianity is housed in the Day Missions Reading Room.  Access to manuscripts and archival material, as well as other material labeled “Restricted Circulation,” is through the Special Collections Reading Room.