Memorabilia Room Restored

Tradition at Yale runs deep. It should come as no surprise, under the circumstances, that one of the first projects in the current renovation of the University’s main library was upgrading the Memorabilia Room.

Closed for the winter, Sterling Memorial Library’s Memorabilia Room will reopen to the public on June 3. A climate control system has been put in place to preserve and protect items on display. The exhibit cases have been refinished, ultraviolet filters have been installed, and the security system has been upgraded. New carpeting was laid down. The decorative leaded windows and oak paneled walls were refurbished, and energy efficient bulbs were installed in the chandeliers. Painted walls, window surrounds, and ceiling have all been restored.

The renovation of the Memorabilia Room was made possible through the generosity of Nancy J. and James M. Hoak ‘66 of Dallas, Texas, in honor of Mr. Hoak’s thirtieth class reunion. The inaugural exhibition, “Seen in a New Light–Selections from Manuscripts and Archives,” features materials from the Library’s Manuscripts and Archives Department and “highlights the ideals and achievements of Yale alumni and administrators,” according to Judith Schiff, chief research archivist for Manuscripts and Archives. Archivists Diane Kaplan and William R. Massa, Jr. assisted in preparing the exhibit.

The exhibition, which will remain on view through Fall Semester 1996, includes manuscripts, photographs, and artifacts from what Ms. Schiff calls “the vast archives of alumni, faculty, administration, and benefactors. The exhibition focuses on world culture in the context of Yale’s history, with a special section on the milestone reunion classes,” she notes.

Beginning with Yale’s founding father Elihu, the exhibit traces high points from pre-Revolutionary days up to and including the papers of Cyrus Vance –Class of 1939–. Among the treasures on display are items from:

David Bushnell –Class of 1775–, inventor of the submarine

Noah Webster –1778–, codifier of the American language, dictionary maker

Eli Whitney –1792–, originator of the modern factory system and cotton gin

Samuel Morse –1810–, inventor of the code that bears his name

Leonard Bacon –1820–, antislavery advocate, head of New Haven’s Underground Railroad

Walter Camp, creator of modern football and the physical fitness movement

William Howard Taft –1878–, President of the United States, then Law School Professor, and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court

John Enders –1919–, Nobel laureate who identified the polio virus – and many more.

One corner of the room is a kind of Memory Lane, displaying school songs, ticket stubs from The –first Yale-Harvard– Game, mugs, banners, and other items steeped in Old Blue tradition.

The Memorabilia Room, on the first floor near the Wall street entrance, is the first area completed in Phase I of the Sterling renovation. This phase focuses on the introduction of climate controls in the building’s stack tower; the replacement of aging roofs and mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems; installation of new fire alarm and sprinkler systems; improved access for people with disabilities; and restoration of some of the library’s public spaces.

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