Teach with Special Collections

Welcome! We are happy to host your class utilizing collection materials from the Beinecke Library and/or Manuscripts & Archives in the building at 121 Wall Street or in the Gates Classroom in Sterling Memorial Library*. Whether a one-time visit, several sessions, or a semester-long course, we look forward to partnering with you in student learning. Engagement with primary source material inspires original scholarship, enhances critical thinking skills, and provides a unique opportunity to deepen students’ knowledge and appreciation of a subject.

Our staff are committed to supporting instruction with the collections, in keeping with the teaching and research mission of Yale University. We encourage faculty and student instructors from throughout Yale, and instructors from institutions around the region, to consider teaching with our collections.

Our staff collaborate with instructors to integrate collections into the curriculum at a variety of levels, from in-depth research projects to an introduction to primary sources. We have worked with instructors representing nearly every Yale program, department, and school, including but not limited to: African American Studies, Anthropology, Arabic, Classics, Directed Studies, English, Environmental Studies, History, History of Art, History of Science/History of Medicine, and Religious Studies.

We facilitate hands-on sessions in which students learn approaches to using rare materials. Examples of such approaches include:

  • understanding ways in which ideas were transmitted in various formats across time and cultures
  • interrogating concepts through an encounter with the material object
  • exploring documentation of the creative process and historical lived experiences
  • imagining how and why texts survive, and the unevenness of the historical record
  • accessing historical data through rare materials

We reserve classrooms on a first-come, first-served basis, and popular class times fill quickly, so please request your classroom space as early as the preceding term, and no later than two weeks in advance. Staff from the Education Program offer consultations and support for faculty planning individual sessions or full semester courses. For general questions regarding our teaching services, please contact our Education Program at beinecke.education@yale.edu

In addition to Beinecke and Manuscripts & Archives, the staff and collections at the Arts Library, Divinity Library, Lewis Walpole Library, Medical-Historical Library, and Music Library welcome classes and student engagement. Please contact any of those repositories with inquiries.

Collections-intensive courses

If you are interested in teaching a collections-intensive course (6 or more session in any or all of Yale Library’s special collections) for Fall term, send your proposal by March 4, 2024, to beinecke.education@yale.edu. Your proposal should include: 1) course title, proposed day and time of the class; 2) a list of which repositories would be visited on which days; and 3) a list of related/follow-up assignments that use special collections materials. If you already have a sense of what materials would be consulted, please include that information. A detailed draft syllabus that includes the requested information can be submitted instead of creating separate lists. Once submitted, library staff will consider all requests against our space and staff availability, and reply with what we can offer in support of your class by March 28, 2024.

*NB While the Gates Classroom remains inaccessible due to the renovation of the Linonia & Brothers Reading Room, classes may be held in the International Room, and very large classes may happen in the Lecture Hall, both in Sterling Memorial Library.