July 2020 Archives

July 30, 2020

diagonal view of bookshelves filled with books

In response to a university-mandated budget reduction, the library will strategically reduce spending on books, journals, databases, special collections, and other research materials for the coming year.  The changes have been carefully structured to minimize the impact on teaching and research.

“Our mission is to support Yale teaching and research at the highest possible level, and we will continue to do so,” said Barbara Rockenbach, Stephen F. Gates ’68 University Librarian. “Even with the required reductions, our collection development budget remains robust.”

The library developed the budget through a deliberative process in consultation with library department directors and collection managers. Instead of across-the-board cuts, reductions were guided by different needs in different subject areas. Duplication of resources across different formats and licensed products has been minimized, and in some cases, the library has been able to negotiate price freezes.

As part of its pandemic response, the library will temporarily prioritize e-book purchases over print. This “e-preferred” policy will provide the broadest and most equitable access to library resources for Yale community members on- and off-campus. The library will still purchase print books as needed or requested, and the policy will be reviewed and revisited no later than January 2021.

The library has a contingency fund to ensure the library continues its current practice of prioritizing user requests for materials needed for teaching and research this year. 

“I encourage faculty and students to reach out to our subject specialists with questions or problems,” Rockenbach said. “Librarians are problem solvers. We can’t say yes to every request, but more often than not, we will find a solution.”

Post on July 30, 2020 - 8:11am |

Measles lab notebook entry for January 25, 1954. John Franklin Enders Papers (MS 1478), Series III, Box 102, Folder 5.

The following post was authored by Genevieve Coyle, public services assistant in Manuscripts and Archives.

We often turn to the past for answers to problems we are facing in the present. While science does not move backwards, it can still be interesting, perhaps even useful to look back and remember the lessons we have learned before. With that in mind, the John Franklin Enders Papers (MS 1478) seem more relevant now than ever. Today, Enders is known to many as the “Father of Modern Vaccines” due to his integral role in developing both the polio and measles vaccines.


John F. Enders on the cover of Time magazine, November 17, 1961. Leonard C. Norkin blog post dated August 4, 2016. https://rb.gy/ixi3mn

John Franklin Enders was a Yale graduate whose life work was in bacteriology and immunology, although it took time to find this ultimate vocation.  He received an Bachelor of Arts in English from Yale in 1919, after spending several years away from his studies to be a flight instructor in the U. S. Naval Reserve Flying Corps during World War I. While pursuing a PhD in literature at Harvard University, Enders was introduced to Hans Zinsser, the head of the department of bacteriology and immunology at Harvard. Shortly thereafter, in 1927, he transitioned to studying bacteriology and immunology, and received his PhD from Harvard Medical School in 1930.

During Enders’ lengthy career, he was a very active author, publishing countless articles and papers for over 40 years. Specifically, his work on measles can be tracked through the numerous publications he contributed to during the 1940s and 1950s, before a vaccine was successfully developed in the early 1960s. These writings include Etiology of Measles published in 1940, Recent Advances in Knowledge of the Measles Virus published in 1958, and Vaccination Against Measles published in 1961. Of course, he wrote papers on dozens of other research subjects including mumps, polio, and influenza, all of which can be found in Series II of the Enders papers.

Measles lab notebook entry for January 25, 1954. John Franklin Enders Papers (MS 1478), Series III, Box 102, Folder 5.

Measles lab notebook entry for January 25, 1954. John Franklin Enders Papers (MS 1478), Series III, Box 102, Folder 5.

Enders’ lab notebooks provide a more granular depiction of his research on measles, as well as many other experiments. As shown in this image, the very first page in volume 1 of his measles laboratory notebooks, dated January 25, 1954, details an attempt to isolate measles using four types of tissues. In total, four measles notebooks span nearly two decades of Enders’ lab work on the virus, from 1954 to 1970.

The picture of Enders’ work is rounded out by the extensive correspondence held in the 88 boxes of Series I from MS 1478. There are more than four boxes of materials completely dedicated to the subject of measles, including correspondence with the Communicable Disease Center (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and correspondence about a measles vaccine study in New Haven, Connecticut.

Letter from John F. Enders to Hans Zinsser, December 12, 1938. John Franklin Enders Papers (MS 1478), Series I, Box 88, Folder 2072.

Letter from John F. Enders to Hans Zinsser, December 12, 1938. John Franklin Enders Papers (MS 1478), Series I, Box 88, Folder 2072.

On a more personal side, letters exchanged with friends and colleagues offer a slightly more intimate portrait of Enders. Although there are only a small handful of letters between him and his colleague and mentor, Hans Zinsser, the notes serve to humanize Enders. In this December 12, 1938, letter to Zinsser, Enders wrote “I have been flattened out myself with what you would probably call grippe…”. Enders seems to get no amusement from the irony that his work in infectious diseases does not stop him from suffering a case of the flu.

 Through his hard work in the field, Enders received many honors, most notably the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963 and the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1954. In addition to the research detailed above, Enders also studied cancer, AIDS, and countless other diseases during his illustrious career. The John Franklin Enders papers are housed at Manuscripts and Archives, and they are a scientific treasure trove waiting to be explored.

Post on July 7, 2020 - 2:37pm |

July 2, 2020

hand drawn map of British invasion of New Haven

In 1779, the Fourth of July fell on Sunday and was to be celebrated on the fifth in New Haven. Although the seaport was a center of privateering, and the British considered Yale a hotbed of sedition, Connecticut’s co-capital had been spared from attack. 

Suddenly, early on July 5th, forty-eight British ships appeared along the shoreline, carrying 2,000 sailors and marines and 3,000 troops. The New Haven population was about 3500, including 84 remaining Yale students. 

English Commodore Sir George Collier wrote in his diary before the invasion: “That place is a spacious and a very considerable town; it has the largest university in America, and might with propriety be styled the parent and nurse of rebellion.” 

Major General William Tryon's raiding party included his Loyalist secretary, Colonel Edmund Fanning, Yale B.A. 1757, who was instrumental in saving the college and town from being burnt down by the British. The two-pronged invasion landed raiding parties on the east and west shores of the harbor, overwhelming the small bands of civilian and student militia. 

While Yale President Ezra Stiles saw to the safety of the current college records and his family, Yale President Emeritus and college pastor Naphtali Daggett faced the enemy with the students in a volunteer company of about 100. They marched south to West Haven to delay the enemy so the women and children could flee to the north.

In a few hours, the British occupied the New Haven Green and the Pierpont House (now the Yale Visitor Center).  The next morning, they sailed west with some Loyalist families and prisoners aboard, to raid and burn Fairfield and Norwalk. It has been written that 27 patriots were killed and 19 wounded, including non-combatants. 

The Yale Library did not suffer a loss in the British invasion.  By the time of President Stiles’ installation on July 8, 1778, most of the library contents including the collection of scientific instruments and the college museum had been securely hidden inland.

In June 1779, he reviewed the books: “The Library of Yale College consists of about three Thousd Volumes; of which three Quarters have been removed to Northford, Durham, & Westbury (now Watertown), to be out of the Way of the Enemy.  I find there still remain a Thousand Volumes in the Library Room.”  

On January 7, 1783 he wrote: “The Remainder of the Library brot. in viz. 178 volumes chiefly folios from Watertown.  These added to the 2270 of Dec. 4 make a Total of 2448 Volumes.  The former total was about three thousand.”

After the signing of the peace treaty in 1783, Stiles recorded on New Year’s Day 1784 that “the College Papers in the Chest of Archives[were] brought home lately from Northford.”  The “over 500” missing books were not returned to the library.

Read about the heroism of President Emeritus Naphtali Daggett.

-- Judith Ann Schiff

Image: Map of the British invation of New Haven, July 1779, created by Ezra Stiles, 1779. Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library 

Post on July 2, 2020 - 3:24pm |

July 2, 2020

Head shot of university librarian Barbara Rockenbach

On July 1, Barbara Rockenbach started her new job as the Stephen F. Gates '68 University Librarian. In an interview with the Yale Alumni Magazine, she talks about the importance of place, the connections between digital and physical collections,  and what Yale Library might learn from the challenges of serving students in the middle of a pandemic. Read the Alumni Magazine story.

Post on July 2, 2020 - 5:22pm |

July 1, 2020

still of Meredith Monk holding a guitar from the film 16 Millimeter Earrings

Join Treasures from the Yale Film Archive online for a conversation with filmmaker Robert S. Withers '69, in conjunction with the online debut of his recently-preserved award-winning short film 16 Millimeter Earrings (1979), which creatively captures a performance by legendary composer, choreographer, and performer Meredith Monk. Monk's performance, which combined dance, music, singing, and projected images, debuted at the Judson Memorial Chapel in Greenwich Village in 1966. Thirteen years later, using short films, audiotapes, and props from the original theater piece, the filmmakers constructed additional props and a set, found new images, recorded new sound, and re-filmed projections for the recreation. Thanks to a grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation, and through laboratory work by Colorlab, Audio Mechanics, and DJ Audio, 16 Millimeter Earrings was preserved on film by the Yale Film Study Center in 2017.

In a conversation recorded in June, 2020, Robert Withers speaks to Yale's film archivist Brian Meacham about the making of the film, as well as his time studying film at Yale and working with filmmakers D.A. Pennebaker and Standish Lawder.

Watch 16 Millimeter Earrings (25 mins)

Watch the Filmmaker Conversation (30 mins)

Both videos are presented with optional closed captioning, and both are available for viewing through the end of December, 2020.

What is Treasures from the Yale Film Archive?
Treasures from the Yale Film Archive is an ongoing series of classic and contemporary films in 35mm curated by the Yale Film Study Center and screened at the Whitney Humanities Center.

Post on July 1, 2020 - 8:02am |