Library Exhibits History of Yale Graduate School

Landmark events and prominent figures in the 150-year history of the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences – from its earliest days to the present – are highlighted in photographs and other documents currently on view in a new exhibit at the Sterling Memorial Library, 120 High St. The display, which continues through the end of January, marks the first time the Graduate School has showcased its history in a campus exhibition.

The exhibit, located in the nave display cases, features some 80 photographs, objects and documents, ranging from one of the first Ph.D. diplomas awarded by the school to portraits of the school’s early leaders and deans. It is sponsored by the Graduate School’s alumni relations office as part of the school’s contribution to the preparations for Yale’s tercentenary in 2001. Graduate School alumnus Guy Erwin, who is now a lecturer in the history of Christianity at the Divinity School and the Graduate School’s campaign coordinator, compiled and wrote the labels for the exhibit.

Founded as Yale’s Department of Philosophy and the Arts in 1847-48, the program was intended to provide instruction in subjects beyond the normal undergraduate curriculum of the day, and was open only to students who had already completed the college’s programs. In 1861 the department awarded the nation’s first Ph.D.s to three students. By 1892 the graduate program, which received early funding from philosopher George Berkeley and others, was sufficiently well developed for it to be renamed the Yale Graduate School and to appoint its first dean, Arthur Twining Hadley. Recognized as a pioneer in the admission of women and minority students, the Graduate School awarded the first U.S. Ph.D. to an African-American student in 1876 and was among the first schools in the nation to confer doctoral degrees on women (the first Yale Ph.D.s were conferred to women in 1894.) The exhibit contains portraits or items related to all of these events and people. (more)

Other items on display representing the school’s earliest days include a Yale College catalog listing the school for the first time, the earliest book of the Graduate School’s executive committee minutes and an early matriculation book open to the page where women are enrolled for the first time in 1892. A second case in the display is devoted to the administration of Wilbur Cross, the fourth dean of the Graduate School (1916-30), under whose leadership the school moved to the center of Yale’s administrative structure and who gave the school a home in the Hall of Graduate Studies. Cross, who went on to become a governor of Connecticut, was noted for emphasizing to Yale leaders, alumni and the nation the importance of graduate education.

The school’s more recent history is shown in a collection of items reflecting the reorganization of the school by John Perry Miller, who was its dean 1961-69. Under his guidance, the Graduate School acquired a number of new programs, a shield, an alumni association and the Wilbur Cross Medal, an award for distinguished career achievement by an alumnus or alumna of the school. The steady growth of the school is highlighted by a number of items relating to new programs developed in the 1960s and 1970s. The celebration of the Graduate School’s sesquicentennial in 1997 and the opening of the new McDougal Graduate Student Center round out the exhibit’s display and bring it up to the present day.

The exhibition can viewed during library hours, 8:30 a.m.- midnight Monday-Thursday, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, and 1 p.m.-midnight Sunday.

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