Elihu Yale to be Feted on his 350th Birthday

Yale will bid a “Happy 350th Birthday” this week to Elihu Yale, the 18th-century British merchant who was one of the institution’s earliest benefactors and for whom it is named.

The two-part celebration will take place on Elihu Yale’s birth date: Monday, April 5.

Three University officials – Vice President and Yale Secretary Linda Koch Lorimer, University Librarian Scott Bennett and Beinecke Library Director Ralph Franklin – will gather 12:30-1 p.m. near a large cardboard birthday cake on Beinecke Plaza (Hewitt Quadrangle) to raise a toast to Elihu Yale and say a few words in his honor.

Cake and punch will be offered to all who stop by, and Tom Duffy will lead the Yale Band in a musical celebration of its historic benefactor. The event is sponsored by the Office of the Secretary.

At 4 p.m. that day, there will be a reception and talk marking the opening of the exhibition “Celebrating the 350th Birthday of Yale’s Benefactor” in the Memorabilia Room of Sterling Memorial Library, 120 High St. The display was organized by Judith Ann Schiff, chief research archivist in the library’s manuscripts and archives Department, who will be the featured speaker at the reception.

The reception is open to the public free of charge.

The institution of higher learning that would eventually be known as Yale was established in 1701 by Congregational ministers from the Connecticut shoreline as a “Collegiate School” where youths could be taught arts and sciences and “fitted up for Publick employment both in Church & Civil State.”

The school was originally located in Saybrook, but moved to New Haven in 1717. The trustees of the fledgling college named the first building they constructed in New Haven after Elihu Yale in gratitude for his gift of nine bales of goods worth 562 pounds 12 shillings, 417 books, and a portrait and arms of King George I.

Media Contact

Dorie Baker: dorie.baker@yale.edu, 203-432-1345