New Director of the Yale Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Is Named

President Richard C. Levin has announced the appointment of Yale historian Frank M. Turner as the director of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

“Professor Turner brings to the Beinecke directorship more than 30 years of experience in the University as scholar, teacher and senior administrator,” Levin said of Turner, the John Hay Whitney Professor of History and former University provost. “He cherishes these collections and understands their value as a resource for scholars at Yale and around the world.”

Turner, who had been serving as interim director, will immediately begin a five-year term as director.

“In the short time he has served as interim director, Professor Turner has gained the full confidence of the Beinecke community,” Levin said. “He has shown deep respect and admiration for all who work to make the Beinecke’s treasures available to scholars, and he understands how the Beinecke, through its exhibitions and sponsored events, can make an enormous contribution to the life of the University.”

A British and European intellectual historian, Turner has written books and many articles that explore Victorian intellectual life. His latest book, “John Henry Newman: The Challenge to Evangelical Religion,” called his “crowning achievement” by Boyd Hilton of Cambridge University and published by Yale Press, explores the career of John Henry Newman, author of “The Idea of a University,” and the motivations and circumstances leading to his conversion to Roman Catholicism.

Turner’s textbook “The Western Heritage,” co-authored with Donald Kagan and Steven Ozment, is in its eighth edition and has long been regarded as one of the leading textbooks on Western Civilization.

Turner is a graduate of William and Mary College and earned his Ph.D. at Yale. As a graduate student, he was awarded the John Addison Porter Prize for original scholarship in 1972. He was the graduate president of the Alpha Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa of Connecticut at Yale from 1995 to 2002. He also has served as a trustee of Connecticut College since 1996. William and Mary awarded him an honorary degree in 1991, as did Quinnipiac University in 2003. Turner is married to the Reverend Ellen L. Tillotson, who is the rector of the Trinity Episcopal Church in Torrington, Conn.

Turner succeeds Barbara Shailor, who is currently Yale’s deputy provost for the arts.

The search committee, chaired by University Librarian Alice Prochaska, consisted of faculty members Jon Butler, Linda Peterson, William Goetzmann and Craig Wright, curator Vincent Giroud, associate librarian Ann Okerson and Beinecke administrator Regina Romero.

Since its opening in 1963, the Beinecke Library has assumed a leading role among the world’s major rare book and manuscript collections as a center for advanced research in the humanities. It is Yale’s principal repository for literary papers and for early manuscripts and rare books in the fields of literature, theology, history and the natural sciences. With collections ranging from ancient papyri to the avant garde, the Beinecke’s holdings cover a wide variety of authors and subjects, many of them in great depth.

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