Last Look

Yale’s birth certificate

The college's original charter from 1701 is ceremonially handed over to a new president.

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As marchers in the October 13 inaugural procession walked through a campus that bears no physical resemblance to the school created by charter in 1701, that original document lay waiting on a table onstage in Woolsey Hall. (Its first page is shown here.) Given by “the Governor in Council & Representatives of his Majestie’s Colony of Connecticot in General Court Assembled, New-Haven, October 9: 1701,” the charter established the institution we now know as Yale. At the time, as the document tells us, the institution was called the “Collegiate School” and was to be a place “wherein Youth may be instructed in the Arts & Sciences who thorough the blessing of Almighty God may be fitted for Publick employment both in Church & Civil State.” A new charter was created in 1745, changing among other things the title of the head of the school from rector to president, and confirming that the name of the school had become Yale College. But it was the original document that was symbolically turned over, as a sign of authority, to President Peter Salovey ’86PhD at his inauguration.

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