It is perhaps not surprising that at Yale -- where tradition runs deep -- one of the first projects undertaken in the current renovation of Sterling Memorial Library was upgrading the Memorabilia Room.
The room, which has been closed all winter, will reopen to the public on Monday, June 3. During the intervening months, a climate- control system has been put in place to preserve and protect items on display; the exhibit cases have been refinished and ultraviolet filters have been installed; the security system has been upgraded; and new carpeting was laid down. In addition, the decorative leaded windows and oak paneled walls were refurbished, and energy- efficient bulbs were installed in the chandeliers. The room's painted walls, window surrounds, and ceiling have all been restored as well.
The renovation of the Memorabilia Room was made possible through the generosity of Nancy J. and James M. Hoak '66 of Dallas, Texas, in honor of Mr. Hoak's 30th class reunion. The inaugural exhibition, "Seen in a New Light -- Selections from Manuscripts and Archives," features materials from the library's manuscripts and archives department and "highlights the ideals and achievements of Yale alumni and administrators," according to Judith Schiff, chief research archivist for manuscripts and archives. Archivists Diane Kaplan and William R. Massa, Jr. assisted in preparing the exhibit.
The exhibition, which will remain on view through the fall semester, includes manuscripts, photographs, and artifacts from what Ms. Schiff calls "the vast archives of alumni, faculty, administration, and benefactors. The exhibition focuses on world culture in the context of Yale's history, with a special section on the milestone reunion classes," she notes.
Beginning with the University's early benefactor Elihu Yale, the exhibit traces high points from pre-Revolutionary days up to and including the papers of Cyrus Vance Class of 1939. Among the treasures on display are items from:
David Bushnell Class of 1775, inventor of the submarine.
Noah Webster 1778, codifier of the American language, dictionary maker.
Eli Whitney 1792, originator of the modern factory system and cotton gin.
Samuel Morse 1810, inventor of the code that bears his name.
Leonard Bacon 1820, antislavery advocate, head of New Haven's Underground Railroad.
Walter Camp, creator of modern football and the physical fitness movement.
William Howard Taft 1878, President of the United States, then Law School Professor, and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
John Enders 1919, Nobel laureate who identified the polio virus.
One corner of the room functions as a kind of Memory Lane, displaying school songs, ticket stubs from the first Yale-Harvard football game, mugs, banners, and other items steeped in Old Blue tradition.
The Memorabilia Room, on the first floor near the Wall street entrance, is the first area completed in Phase I of the Sterling renovation. This phase focuses on the introduction of climate controls in the building's stack tower; the replacement of aging roofs and mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems; installation of new fire alarm and sprinkler systems; improved access for people with disabilities; and restoration of some of the library's public spaces.