Religious Studies


Yale University Library collections support research and teaching on the world’s religious traditions, institutions, cultural practices, texts, and ideas during all historical and pre-historical periods.

Courses in the Religious Studies department concentrate on the history of religious traditions (Western and Eastern, ancient and modern) and the role of religion in shaping past human cultures and current events; on textual traditions and religious literatures of various kinds; and on ethical and philosophical issues central to religious reflection, such as the nature of the divine or the problem of evil and suffering. Because religious studies is an interdisciplinary field, it makes use of a wide variety of methods and academic disciplines. Areas of established specialization are American religious history, ancient Christianity, Asian religions, Islamic studies, New Testament, Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, philosophy of religion, and religious ethics.

Departments/disciplines/programs/subject areas supported

  • Religious Studies
  • Divinity School
  • Department of Comparative Literature
  • Department of History
  • Department of the History of Art
  • The Forum on Religion and Ecology
  • The Literature Major
  • The MacMillan Center Initiative on Religion, Politics, & Society
  • Department of Philosophy
  • Program of American Studies
  • Program of Humanities
  • Program in Medieval Studies
  • Program of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
  • Renaissance Studies Program
  • School of Architecture

Because religious studies has cross-disciplinary implications, these collections also offer support for research and teaching in other Western European language and literature departments (e.g., English, French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese, German) as well as area studies departments (e.g. East Asian Languages and Literatures, and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations), programs (e.g. British Historical Studies Program, Hellenic Studies Program, and Medieval Studies Program), and MacMillan Center Councils (e.g. African Studies, East Asian Studies, Latin American and Iberian Studies, Middle East Studies, South Asian Studies, and Southeast Asian Studies).

Formats collected


  • Academic and trade press monographs are acquired in print or electronic formats.
  • Maps and textbooks are generally excluded unless requested by faculty.


  • Online-only subscriptions are preferred; print subscriptions are initiated or continued when an online edition is not available, not stable, or not adequate.

Reference materials

  • Electronic reference materials, including indexing and abstracting databases, dictionaries, and encyclopedias, are almost always preferred to their print counterparts. Print reference materials are acquired when an online version is not available, not stable, or not adequate.

Audiovisual materials

  • DVDs are acquired very selectively, primarily in response to faculty demand.


  • Yale Library has extensive microform holdings supporting religious studies. However, due to the increasing conversion of microform collections to digital formats and the interlibrary loan availability of microform sets from the Center for Research Libraries, microform supporting religious studies is now acquired on demand only.

Subjects excluded or collected selectively

  • Devotional literature

Languages collected

English and Western European language materials are collected extensively. See International Collections statements for collecting outside of Europe and North America.

Chronological and geographical focus

Current materials are emphasized, with out of print materials purchased to replace damaged or lost copies of significant works, or in response to faculty or student requests.

In terms of time periods covered in the materials themselves, the collections run the gamut from medieval to contemporary. 

American and British materials are collected extensively. Materials from Canada and Western Europe are collected selectively. 

Collaborations within Yale

  • The International Collections all acquire material in religious studies published anywhere in the world pertaining to their respective regions.
  • Collaboration within HCRE (Humanities Collections and Research Education) on purchases, especially databases of wide interest to humanists including historical newspapers, pamphlets, scholarly editions, and journals.
  • Occasional collaboration with the Music Library, Center for British Art, or the Law Library in purchases of or subscriptions to databases of mutual interest.
  • The Divinity School Library currently collects material in support of several ‘tracks’ in Religious Studies including Ancient Christianity, New Testament, Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, Philosophy of Religion, Religious Ethics, and Theology.

Subject Librarian

Roberta L. Dougherty
Librarian for Middle East Studies
Near East Collection
Department of Area Studies and Humanities Research Support (DASHRS)
(203) 432-1373