Teaching with Special Collections

The Beinecke’s Education Program supports instruction with Yale Library’s special collections. We are happy to host your class for a one-time visit, several sessions, or a collections-intensive course.

We welcome Yale faculty and student instructors as well as instructors from throughout the region to teach with our collections. Contact us with questions or to schedule a planning consultation with our staff. To request a session, use the required Class Visit Request Form

If you will be teaching primarily with Beinecke Library materials, including Manuscripts and Archives collections, your class will meet in a Beinecke Library classroom at 121 Wall Street or in the Gates Classroom in Sterling Memorial Library. Popular class times fill quickly; please request your classroom space as early as possible using the required Class Visit Request Form. Please note:

  • Requests for class visits will not be accepted with less than 2 weeks’ notice.
  • If you wish special collections staff to select materials on your behalf, we ask for at least 4 weeks’ notice.
  • If you wish to visit 6 or more times, please consult the collections-intensive courses section below. 

If you will be teaching primarily with materials from any other of Yale Library’s special collections, please contact the relevant library directly to schedule your visit: Arts LibraryDivinity LibraryLewis Walpole LibraryMedical-Historical Library, and Music Library

Staff Support and Collaboration

Our staff have partnered with instructors representing nearly every Yale program, department, and school. We can collaborate with you to integrate collections into the curriculum at any level, from in-depth research projects to an introduction to primary sources.

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.

We can facilitate hands-on sessions in which students learn approaches to using rare materials. These may 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 are always happy to schedule a consultation to discuss options and assist with planning your session or course. Contact us at beinecke.education@yale.edu

Collections-intensive Courses (Yale instructors)

If you are interested in teaching a collections-intensive course (6 or more sessions using materials from any or all of Yale Library’s special collections), you must submit a proposal to beinecke.education@yale.edu the previous year. The submission deadline is announced each semester. Please include:

  • Course title, proposed day and time of the class
  • Which repositories you would like to visit on which days
  • Related or follow-up assignments that use special collections materials
  • Materials or types of materials you wish to consult, if known. (We can help you identify relevant materials.)

You may submit the proposal information in list form or as part of a detailed draft syllabus. We will consider all requests against space and staff availability, then respond to your proposal. If you have not previously taught a collections-intensive course, please contact Jae Rossman, associate director for special collections instruction and research service, to arrange a consultation.