Reminders of Long Ago

While the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library draws researchers and visitors from around the world, New Haven Promise scholars are committed to making it relevant to a new generation of scholars right here in New Haven.

As one of the world’s largest libraries devoted entirely to rare books and manuscripts, the building’s beauty — offered by marble panels protecting its rare materials by filtering, but allowing, external light — provides an experience that visitors won’t forget.

After working here for more than a year, I have come to think of Beinecke as a second home. Not only are all of the workers the nicest people I’ve ever met, but the space itself is mesmerizing, yet natural. It has been an honor to create content for a library that holds such valuable material that reflects our history as well as our everyday lives. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been able to photograph and study Langston Hughes’ original papers or hold the pen Abraham Lincoln used to sign the Emancipation Proclamation.

Michael Morand of the Beinecke Library flanked by Promise Scholars Dante Haughton (left) and Tubyez Cropper (right)

I’ve also been in company with fellow Promise students Skidmore’s Dante Haughton and Wellesley’s Eva Knaggs.

“It’s been great to come back for a third summer and interact with such brilliant researchers and staff who inspire me as a creative student,” said Haughton. “Their commitment to engaging with the collection has shown me ways in which arts contribute to academia. It’s nice to be surrounded by people who are in love with the humanities. I’m fortunate to be able to use my creativity as a photographer and videographer every day and promote a facility that is immeasurably significant, historically and socially.”

While the Beinecke offers anyone the opportunity to engage in research with its rare collections, the Promise interns would love to see more local scholars turn into researchers. Nowhere else could a student analyze and record the original papers of James Weldon Johnson, who penned “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” commonly known as the “Black National Anthem.”

“This entire experience has turned out to be a lot different than expected,” said Knaggs. “This amazing collection is a lot more accessible than I initially thought and everyone that works here makes it very easy to request and use the material. The term ‘library’ takes on an entirely new meaning once you spend enough time in a building like this.”

When I walk in everyday, it never feels like work because I’m doing what I love. The Beinecke has graciously given me the opportunity to bring more interesting visual representation to the building. It’s such a warm feeling to know that the work I do can really bring more awareness and a larger audience to the Beinecke.

Plan a visit to the Beinecke Library (121 Wall Street) — which is always free and open to all. You can even request some of the most valued material that has shaped mankind. The friendly staff will gladly help you.

Tubyez Cropper — a 2018 graduate of Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania — participated in three internships through Promise’s career programming. A 2014 graduate of Achievement First Amistad High School, Cropper is now a New Haven Promise Fellow at Yale University’s Beinecke Library.