Rare Books and Manuscripts

Study Room, second floor, Yale Center for British Art, photograph © Elizabeth Felicella / ESTO

The Department of Rare Books and Manuscripts holds approximately 35,000 volumes. The collection represents a broad range of material relating to the visual arts and cultural life in the United Kingdom and the former British Empire, dating from the fifteenth century to the present. Particular strengths include illustrated “color-plate” books from the renowned J. R. Abbey collection, drawing manuals, sporting books and manuscripts, early maps and atlases, early printed books by William Caxton and his contemporaries, private press and contemporary artists’ books, as well as archival and manuscript material relating to British artists, writers, and travelers of all periods. 

Computerized cataloging of the Center’s rare books and manuscripts is in progress. Access to records of works in the department is available in a number of resources: the Center’s collections search provides access to material from all of its departments, while Orbis—the Yale Libraries online catalog—enables a researcher to also explore the holdings of other special collections at Yale. Archives at Yale provides detailed descriptions of the department’s archival collections, along with other archives at Yale.

Study Room

The Study Room provides access to works in the Center’s Prints & Drawings and Rare Books & Manuscripts collections and is open to the public, Tuesday through Friday, 10 am–4:30 pm. Appointments are not required but are recommended for patrons traveling from outside the area. *The Study Room is closed on Mondays, Good Friday, the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, and the days between Christmas Eve and New Year’s

The Study Room is also used for teaching with the collections, and staff members are available for advice on planning classes. 

For further information, please contact the Study Room (ycba.studyroom@yale.edu | +1 203 432 2840).

Contact the Department: 

Rare Books and Manuscripts 
Yale Center for British Art 
1080 Chapel Street 
P.O. Box 208280 
New Haven, CT 06520-8280

+1 203 432 2815
+1 203 432 9613 fax


Chief Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts
+1 203 432 2814
Assistant Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts
+1 203 436 8157
Senior Catalogue Librarian
+1 203 432 9672
Senior Catalogue Assistant
+1 203 432 2816
Senior Curatorial Assistant
+1 203 436 9024
Senior Curatorial Assistant
+1 203 432 2815