Yale Divinity Library has primary responsibility for Yale's research collections in specified areas of Christian history, thought, and practice. Given the nature of scholarship on Christianity, the Divinity Library's collections are by definition international in scope. More than half of the material it collects is published outside of North America.
The Divinity Library's Day Missions Library is a world-renowned collection documenting world Christianity and the history of the missionary movement. Established in 1891 by George Edward Day and his wife, Olivia Hotchkiss Day, the collection today makes up approximately one third of the Divinity Library's 500,000 volumes, and constitutes the bulk of its manuscript and archival collection. Monographic and archival materials are complemented by strong collections of periodicals, annual reports, and pamphlet literature. When the Yale Divinity Library was established in 1932, the Day collection constituted two thirds of the Divinity Library's original collection. The collection has continued to grow over the years, with support from an endowment established by the Days and, since 1981, with income from a fund established by Kenneth Scott Latourette, D. Willis James Professor of Missions and World Christianity, 1921-1953.
Documentation of the Protestant missionary endeavor is an important focus for the Divinity Library's archival and manuscript collections. The Library's China Records Project and subsequent collecting efforts have made its China-related resources particularly strong. The Guide to archives and manuscript collections provides an overview of archives and manuscript collections held at the Yale Divinity Library, in both original and microform format. Online finding aids are available for all of the Library's original holdings. The Library has the world's most comprehensive microform collection of missions-related archives for which the originals are held in other repositories.
The Divinity Library has initiated or participates in a variety of programs related to the documentation and study of world Christianity:
China Records Project
The China Records Project was initiated by the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A in 1968. The aim of the project is to insure the preservation of the personal records of former missionaries to China and to provide a central repository where these papers would be available to historians. In 1969, the The Yale Divinity School Library was chosen as this central repository for this project and continues to solicit and accept China-related papers.
The Latourette Initiative for the Documentation of World Christianity
The Latourette Initiative for the Documentation of World Christianity is a proactive program to preserve and provide access to the documentation of world Christianity. The Divinity Library has worked with the World Council of Church, University of Edinburgh, Melbourne School of Theology, Uganda Christian University, Gujarat United School of Theology / Church of North India, and Hong Kong Baptist University to create microform or digital copies of archives held by them.
The Yale-Edinburgh Group on the History of the Missionary Movement and World Christianity
The Yale-Edinburgh Group on the History of the Missionary Movement and World Christianity was formed in 1992 to facilitate the exchange of information about historical aspects of the missionary movement and the development of world Christianity. Administered by the Divinity Library, it holds a yearly conference and sponsors a listserv for scholars.
International Mission Photography Archive
The International Mission Photography Archive project provides access to historical images from Protestant and Catholic missionary collections held at a number of centers in Britain, continental Europe, and North America.
Pacific Manuscripts Bureau
Yale Divinity School Library is a member of the Pacific Manuscripts Bureau, which seeks to insure long-term preservation of the documentary heritage of the Pacific Islands and to make it accessible.