Voices from the Beinecke Library

Collection Highlights

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then . . . . I contradict myself;
I am large . . . . I contain multitudes.
Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass, 1855

Founded in 1911 when Yale College graduate Owen Franklin Aldis donated his distinguished library of first editions of American fiction, drama, and poetry to the Yale Library, the Collection of American Literature is one of the most important collections of its kind. In the century following Aldis’s gift, the Collection has continued to grow, building on core areas and expanding to include complementary materials, from individual manuscripts to expansive literary archives, from little magazines and lively ephemera to high-tech artists’ books. In 2011, collection highlights wer exhibited in Multitudes: A Celebration of the Yale Collection of American Literature, 1911 – 2011. This exhibition revealed areas of bibliographic strength and new development while demonstrating the Collection’s extraordinary richness, eclecticism, and depth. From the colonial period to the present, the Collection celebrates American Literature as a living art form with a complex history. Its evolving and vibrant traditions are a subject worthy of rigorous scholarly attention as well as leisurely pursuit for the general reader.

Collection Strengths & Highlights

Owen Franklin Aldis Library

James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection

Nineteenth-Century Manuscripts in the JWJ Collection

American Poetry

Modern Literary Archives

Nineteenth-Century American Literature

African American Writers’ Archives

Literary Intellectuals at Yale

The Modern American Novel

African American Arts and Letters

Arts & Letters

Nineteenth-Century American Print Culture

American Prose Writers

Modernism and the Little Magazine

Image, Text, and the Art of the Book

American Dramatists

Film in the Archive


Multitudes: A Celebration of the Yale Collection of American Literature, 1911 – 2011
An exhibition on view July 8 through October 1, 2011


Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library
121 Wall Street | New Haven, CT 06511
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Tel: (203) 432-2977    Fax: (203) 432-4047

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The exhibition gallery is closed while the library's building is under renovation.

Temporary Reading Room Hours 
Monday - Friday: 9 am to 4:45 pm

The temporary reading room is located in Yale's Sterling Memorial Library, across Wall Street from the Beinecke.

Holiday Schedule and Closed Collections Schedule