Manuscript Society

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Manuscript Society is a senior society at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Toward the end of each academic year 16 rising seniors are inducted into the society, which meets twice weekly for dinner and discussion. Manuscript is reputedly the "Arts and letters" society at Yale.[1]

History and traditions[edit]

Founded in 1952, Manuscript was Yale's seventh "landed" senior society; that is, its alumni trust owns the society's meeting place or "tomb". Manuscript was one of the first of the senior societies to offer membership to rising female Yale College seniors.

Each delegation is selected by consensus among Manuscript alumni, trustees, current delegates and significant others, unlike other Yale societies where undergraduate members more freely select, recruit, and initiate their society's next delegation.[2]

The Wrexham Foundation is the society's alumni arm. Since 1956, the foundation has underwritten a scholarship in the humanities for a "senior who shall be judged to have written the best senior essay in the field of the humanities." Administered by Yale, it is given in memory of Wallace Notestein, M.A. 1903, Ph.D. 1908, Litt.D. 1951.[3]

Manuscript briefly played host to the 1991-92 classes of Skull and Bones, who were temporarily locked out of their own tomb by alumni who objected to its undergraduates' decision to offer membership to women.[1]

It holds the number 344 to be sacred.[1] The Society supposedly holds Enlightenment ideals, and the sun and sunflowers are both important symbols to members.[4] From its beginning the society also retained close connections with campus literary society Chi Delta Theta, which itself had been formed in 1821.[5][6]

The society holds an annual gathering in its tomb on Halloween. A Manuscript event is described in the novel Joe College by Tom Perrotta.[7]

Manuscript is part of a four-society "Consortium" with the Aurelian Honor Society, Book and Snake and Berzelius.


Designed by King-lui Wu,[8] Manuscript's tomb is mid-century modern, unusual amid other societies' elaborate mid-to-late-19th century buildings. It appears from the outside to have only one level, yet conceals several subterranean floors. The tomb holds a vast collection of notable modern and contemporary art.[9] The Yale University Art Gallery is said to have temporarily stored pieces there.[1] Wu said that he designed the building "for privacy, not for secrecy."[10] Dan Kiley was responsible for landscaping and Josef Albers for the brickwork intaglio mural.

Notable members[edit]

Journalist and historian Richard Rhodes (1937-) was a member of the class of '59.
Four time Presidential adviser David Gergen (1942-), was a member of the class of '63.
Pennsylvania senator H. John Heinz III (1938-1991) was a member of the class of '64.
Two time Academy Award winner Jodie Foster (1962-) was a member of the class of '85.
CNN broadcaster and journalist Anderson Cooper (1967-) was a member of the class of '89.
Name Yale Class Known for
Matthew Bruccoli 1953 F. Scott Fitzgerald scholar [1]
Ted Morgan 1954 Pulitzer Prize-winning author and journalist[1]
Michael Pertschuk 1954 Consumer advocate, author and former government official[1]
David Calleo 1955 Intellectual historian, political economist at Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University[1]
Henry Geldzahler 1957 Art historian and curator[1]
Anthony Lapham 1958 CIA Lawyer[1][11]
Stephen F. Williams 1958 Senior Circuit Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit[1]
Richard Maltby, Jr. 1959 Tony Award-winning director[1]
Richard Rhodes 1959 Pulitzer Prize-winning author[1]
H. John Heinz III 1960 US senator[citation needed]
Dale Purves 1960 Neuroscientist, Director of the Neuroscience and Behavioural Disorders program at Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School[1]
Robert Glick 1962 Former director of the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research[1]
David Gergen 1963 Presidential Advisor and Political Commentator[1][12]
Robert Fiore 1964 Film producer and co-director of Pumping Iron, a documentary about Arnold Schwarzenegger[1]
Paul Steiger 1964 Editor-in-Chief of ProPublica, formerly the Managing Editor of the Wall Street Journal[1]
Charles Derber 1965 Professor of Sociology and social critic[1]
Juan Negrín Fetter 1967 Director, Wixarika Research Center, founder of the Party of the Left at Yale[1][13]
Richard H. Brodhead 1968 9th President of Duke University[1]
Alan Bernheimer 1970 Poet[1]
Rodger Kamenetz 1970 Professor and certified dream therapist[1]
Soni Oyekan 1970 Chemical engineer and inventor[1]
Jane Maienschein 1972 Director of the Center for Biology and Society, at Arizona State University[1]
Eli Whitney Debevoise II 1974 U.S. Director of the World Bank[1]
Rosanna Warren 1976 Poet and scholar[1]
Karl Zinsmeister 1981 Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council under George W. Bush[1]
Byron Kim 1983 Minimalist artist[1]
Cheryl Henson 1984 Puppeteer and President of the Jim Henson foundation[1]
Jodie Foster 1985 Director and actor[1]
Tamar Gendler 1987 Professor, chair of the Yale University Department of Philosophy[1]
Scott Peterson 1988 Author and journalist, Moscow bureau chief for the Christian Science Monitor[1]
Jen Banbury 1989 Playwright, author of novel Like a Hole in the Head and journalist[citation needed]
Anderson Cooper 1989 News Anchor[12][14]
Jonathan Zittrain 1991 Professor of Internet Law at Harvard University[1]
Noah Bookbinder 1995 Professor of Law at George Washington University, chief counsel for Sen. Patrick Leahy[1][15]
James Prosek 1997 Author and naturalist[1][16]
Maia Brewton 1998 Child actress and lawyer[1]
Elisabeth Waterston 1999 Actor[1][17]
Brooke Lyons 2003 Actor[citation needed]
Zoe Kazan 2005 Actor and playwright[citation needed]
Josef Albers Hon. Artist[1]
Cleanth Brooks Hon. Literary Critic[1]
Robert A. Dahl Hon. Professor of Political Science at Yale University, considered the "Dean" of political science[1]
Vincent Giroud Hon. Historian of French Opera[1][18][19]
Gary Haller Hon. Professor of Chemistry at Yale University and Master of Jonathan Edwards College[1][20]
Cyrus Hamlin Hon. Literary critic and longtime Yale professor[1]
E. D. Hirsch, Jr. Hon. Literary critic and proponent of Cultural literacy[1]
Patrick McCaughey Hon. Former director of the Yale Center for British Art[1][21]
Ved Mehta Hon. Author and advocate for the blind[1]
Wallace Notestein Hon. Sterling Professor of English history at Yale[1]
Richard Rephann Hon. Former director of the Yale University Collection of Musical Instruments[1][22]
Duncan Robinson Hon. Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, Chairman of the Henry Moore Foundation and Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum[1]
William Kelly Simpson Hon. Art historian and Master of Timothy Dwight College[1]
Richard Selzer Hon. Surgeon, author and professor of surgery at Yale[1]
Steven Smith Hon. Political Scientist and Master of Branford College[1]
Robert Farris Thompson Hon. Art historian and Master of Timothy Dwight College[1]
Robert Storr Hon. American curator, critic, painter, and writer.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb Parks, Steven; Cooper, Henry S. F. Jr.; Wallace, Thomas C., eds. (2002). Manuscript Society (1953-2002). New Haven, CT: Phoenix Press.
  2. ^ "Tombs & Taps" section of online Magazine Archived 2006-07-19 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved 2010
  3. ^ Yale University | Office of the Secretary
  4. ^ Havemeyer, Loomis. 1960. "Go to your room"; a story of undergraduate societies and fraternities at Yale. New Haven : 1960.
  5. ^ Yale Extracurricular and Social Organizations publication, retrieved 26 March 2012
  6. ^ Yale's Extracurricular & Social Organizations, 1780-1960, accessed 21 Aug 2021.
  7. ^ Perotta, T. Joe College (New York, St. Martins : 2005) pp. 105-116
  8. ^ *Yale Bulletin
  9. ^ The Yale Daily News, Yale's Secret Social Fabric, Zapana, V and Niarchos, N
  10. ^ Architectural Record, November 1965. "Ingenious Use of a Narrow Site".
  11. ^ Martin, Douglas (15 November 2006). "Anthony A. Lapham, 70, Former C.I.A. Lawyer, Dies". The New York Times.
  12. ^ a b Wenzel, R. Economic Policy Journal. "Doing a background check on CNN" (26 December 2011), retrieved on 26 March 2012
  13. ^ Biographical Sketch of Juan Negrin, retrieved 22 March 2012
  14. ^ biography of Anderson Cooper, retrieved June 4, 2011
  15. ^ Listing in the George Washington Univ. Law School Directory Archived 2012-08-05 at, retrieved 26 March 2012
  16. ^ Hodara, S. The New York Times, "Interpreting a Blueprint for Birds". (Arts and Entertainment, 01/13/2008), retrieved 26 March 2012
  17. ^ Elisabeth Waterston bio Archived 2011-07-28 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved 26 March 2012
  18. ^ Giroud, V. French Opera, A Short History. (New Haven CT, Yale Univ. Press : 2010) ISBN 978-0-300-11765-3
  19. ^ Giroud, Vincent (2010). French Opera: A Short History. ISBN 978-0300117653.
  20. ^ "Gary L. Haller, Faculty: Yale Department of Chemistry". Archived from the original on 27 June 2012. Retrieved 19 April 2022.
  21. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 October 2012. Retrieved 20 July 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  22. ^ "Yale Alumni Magazine: Faces (May 2001)". Archived from the original on 14 November 2012. Retrieved 19 April 2022.


  • Robbins, Alexandra. Secrets of the Tomb: Skull and Bones, the Ivy League, and the Hidden Paths of Power. (Back Bay Books : 2003). ISBN 0-316-73561-2
  • Architectural Record, November 1965. "Ingenious Use of a Narrow Site".