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Yale University

Yale University, a private institution, is situated in New Haven, Connecticut. Its library of more than 10 million volumes is the second largest university library and third largest library system in the United States. The Yale Center for British Art (1977) holds the largest collection of British art and illustrated books outside the United Kingdom. Yale College provides a liberal arts education in which undergraduate students explore a variety of fields and obtain a wide cultural background. The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the ten professional schools–architecture, art, divinity, drama, forestry and environmental studies, law, management, medicine, music, and nursing–award master's, doctoral, and professional degrees.

Historian Franklin Dexter chronicles that in 1701 ten Connecticut ministers obtained a colony charter "to Erect a Collegiate School" whose mission was to instruct youth in the arts and sciences and fit them "for Publick employment both in Church & Civil State" (pp. 20–21). In 1716 the college was moved from Saybrook to New Haven, and in 1718 when Elihu Yale, an Englishman with New Haven ties, donated books and saleable goods the college was named after him. The early curriculum consisted of traditional liberal arts studies and strict Congregational instruction, and most graduates became ministers. By the 1770s the students were entering other fields and actively supported the American revolutionary cause. In 1802 President Timothy Dwight (1795–1817) advanced the sciences by appointing Benjamin Silliman the first science professor in America.

Over the next half century Silliman developed the arts and sciences, establishing a medical school in 1810, the first university art gallery in 1832, and the first American graduate school and scientific school in 1846. In 1852 the engineering school and the bachelor of philosophy degrees were instituted, and science instruction was consolidated into the Sheffield Scientific School in 1861. Graduate education was formalized in America when Yale awarded the first doctor of philosophy degrees in 1861. In 1876 Yale awarded the first American doctorate to an African American, physics student Edward Bouchet. The college continued to maintain its liberal arts tradition as affirmed in its 1828 Report on the Course of Instruction, a landmark document in nineteenth-century education.

In the 1820s the divinity and law schools were established, and by mid-century Yale was the largest U.S. college. The first university art school, Yale's first coeducational school, was founded in 1869. In the 1870s, the Peabody Museum opened to exhibit the first dinosaur bones and fossils collected by Professor Othniel C. Marsh on Western expeditions. The college became Yale University in 1888, and women were admitted to the graduate school in 1892. In 1900, Gifford Pinchot established the oldest continuously operating forestry school in America.

American college sports and traditions were largely developed at Yale, beginning with rowing in 1843. Yale's greatest sports contributions have been in the invention of American football by Walter Camp, and in developing the sports of swimming, baseball, basketball, golf, and boxing.

Yale's distinguished professors, such as Josiah Willard Gibbs, Irving Fisher, and William Graham Sumner, earned international reputations in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. In the first quarter of the twentieth century Yale made further advances in the education of women, admitting them to the schools of medicine in 1916 and law in 1919, and establishing the first academic nursing school in 1923. President James Rowland Angell's administration (1921–1937) was marked by extensive development of the graduate and professional schools as well as the college. Gifts of John W. Sterling and the Harkness family enabled Yale to reform its educational system, rebuild its campus, and broaden its educational mission. One of the most significant features, the undergraduate residential college system, was instituted in 1933. The twelve colleges are separate entities designed to give the students of a sense of belonging to and participating in smaller groups. In the 1950s, President A. Whitney Griswold (1950–1963) strengthened the liberal arts educational mission of Yale and modernized its architectural appearance. Under President Kingman Brewster (1963–1977), Yale became more democratic and diverse, and women were admitted to Yale College in 1969. The School of Management was established in 1973. As New Haven's largest employer, Yale, under president Richard C. Levin (1993–), is strongly committed to working with the city in developing mutually beneficial educational, cultural, and economic projects.


DEXTER, FRANKLIN BOWDITCH, ed. 1916. Documentary History of Yale University, under the Original Charter of the Collegiate School of Connecticut, 1701–1745. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

KELLEY, BROOKS MATHER. 1974. Yale: A History. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

PIERSON, GEORGE W. 1952. Yale: An Educational History 1871–1921. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

PIERSON, GEORGE W. 1955. Yale: The University College 1921–1937. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

PIERSON, GEORGE W. 1979. Yale: A Short History. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Reports on the Course of Instruction in Yale College; By a Committee of the Corporation and the Academical Faculty. 1828. New Haven, CT: H. Howe.


YALE UNIVERSITY. 2002. "Factsheet: Some Facts and Statistics about Yale University." 2002. <www.yale.edu/oir/factsheet.html>.


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