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Traditions & History

Yale has grown and evolved for 300-plus years, passing many milestones and forging traditions along the way. 

The university traces its roots to the 1640s when colonial clergymen led an effort to establish a local college to preserve the tradition of European liberal education in the New World. In 1701 the charter was granted for a school “wherein Youth may be instructed in the Arts and Sciences (and) through the blessing of Almighty God may be fitted for Publick employment both in Church and Civil State.”

The school officially became Yale College in 1718, when it was renamed in honor of Welsh merchant Elihu Yale, who had donated the proceeds from the sale of nine bales of goods together with 417 books and a portrait of King George I.

Take a stroll through Yale’s three centuries of history, and learn about the traditions that have become part of the fabric of our university.