Manuscript Society is a senior secret society at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Toward the end of each junior year, 16 undergraduates are "tapped" to be inducted into the society, which meets twice weekly for dinner and discussion (once per week with undergraduates only, once with alumni, honorary members and invited guests). Undergraduates are selected for their strength in academics, extracurricular activities, character and commitment to truth. Manuscript is known for having the best of the intellectual and artistic undergraduates among its members and calls itself an "Arts and Letters" society.
History and Traditions
Founded in 1952, Manuscript was Yale's seventh "landed" senior society; that is, its alumni trust owns its building, or "tomb." Manuscript was one of the first of the "above-ground" senior societies to tap women along with St. Elmo. Each delegation is elected by a consensus of Manuscript alumni, trustee members, and others, unlike other secret societies, where undergraduate members shoulder more of the burden of selecting, recruiting and initiating their descendants.
The Wrexham Foundation is the society's alumni board of trustees. 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.
Manuscript also 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 tap women for the first time in the spring of 1991.
It holds the number 344 to be sacred. Possible explanations of this include the fact that this was the date that the Greek philosopher and scientist, Aristotle, travelled from Assus to Lesbos to study natural history and marine biology.
The Society supposedly holds Enlightenment ideals, and the sun and sunflowers are both important symbols to members. The society also retained close connections with the campus literary society Chi Delta Theta in the early 1950s.
Designed by King-lui Wu, 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 eight subterranean floors. The tomb holds a vast collection of notable modern and contemporary art. The Yale University Art Gallery is said to have temporarily stored pieces there. Wu was often heard to say that he designed the building "for privacy, not for secrecy." Dan Kniley was responsible for landscaping and Josef Albers for the brickwork intaglio mural.
|Name||Yale Class||Known for|
|Matthew Bruccoli||1953||Preeminent expert on F. Scott Fitzgerald|
|Ted Morgan||1954||Pulitzer Prize-winning author and journalist|
|Michael Pertschuk||1954||Consumer advocate, author and former government official|
|David Calleo||1955||Intellectual historian, political economist at Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University|
|Henry Geldzahler||1957||Art historian and curator|
|Anthony Lapham||1958||CIA Lawyer|
|Stephen F. Williams||1958||Senior Circuit Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit|
|Richard Maltby, Jr.||1959||Tony Award-winning director|
|Richard Rhodes||1959||Pulitzer Prize-winning author|
|H. John Heinz III||1960||US senator|
|Dale Purves||1960||Neuroscientist, Director of the Neuroscience and Behavioural Disorders program at Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School|
|Robert Glick||1962||Former director of the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research|
|David Gergen||1963||Presidential Advisor and Political Commentator|
|Robert Fiore||1964||Film producer and co-director of Pumping Iron, a documentary about Arnold Schwarzenegger|
|Paul Steiger||1964||Editor-in-Chief of ProPublica, formerly the Managing Editor of the Wall Street Journal|
|Charles Derber||1965||Professor of Sociology and social critic|
|Juan Negrín Fetter||1967||Director, Wixarika Research Center, founder of the Party of the Left at Yale|
|Richard H. Brodhead||1968||9th President of Duke University|
|Rodger Kamenetz||1970||Professor and certified dream therapist|
|Soni Oyekan||1970||Leading chemical engineer|
|Jane Maienschein||1972||Director of the Center for Biology and Society, at Arizona State University|
|Eli Whitney Debevoise II||1974||U.S. Director of the World Bank|
|Rosanna Warren||1976||Poet and scholar|
|Karl Zinsmeister||1981||Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council under George W. Bush|
|Byron Kim||1983||Minimalist artist|
|Cheryl Henson||1984||Puppeteer and President of the Jim Henson foundation|
|Tamar Gendler||1987||Professor, chair of the Yale University Department of Philosophy|
|Scott Peterson||1988||Author and journalist, Moscow bureau chief for the Christian Science Monitor|
|Jen Banbury||1989||Playwright, author of novel Like a Hole in the Head and journalist|
|Anderson Cooper||1989||News Anchor|
|Jonathan Zittrain||1991||Professor of Internet Law at Harvard University|
|Noah Bookbinder||1995||Professor of Law at George Washington University, chief counsel for Sen. Patrick Leahy|
|James Prosek||1997||Author and naturalist|
|Maia Brewton||1998||Child actress and lawyer|
|Zoe Kazan||2005||Actor and playwright|
|Cleanth Brooks||Hon.||Literary Critic|
|Robert A. Dahl||Hon.||Professor of Political Science at Yale University, considered the "Dean" of political science|
|Vincent Giroud||Hon.||Historian of French Opera|
|Gary Haller||Hon.||Professor of Chemistry at Yale University and Master of Jonathan Edwards College|
|Cyrus Hamlin||Hon.||Literary critic and longtime Yale professor|
|E. D. Hirsch, Jr.||Hon.||Literary critic and proponent of Cultural literacy|
|Patrick McCaughey||Hon.||Former director of the Yale Center for British Art|
|Ved Mehta||Hon.||Author and advocate for the blind|
|Wallace Notestein||Hon.||Sterling Professor of English history at Yale|
|Richard Rephann||Hon.||Former director of the Yale University Collection of Musical Instruments|
|Duncan Robinson||Hon.||Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, Chairman of the Henry Moore Foundation and Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum|
|William Kelly Simpson||Hon.||Art historian and Master of Timothy Dwight College|
|Richard Selzer||Hon.||Surgeon, author and professor of surgery at Yale|
|Steven Smith||Hon.||Political Scientist and Master of Branford College|
|Robert Farris Thompson||Hon.||Art historian and Master of Timothy Dwight College|
- Ed. Parks, Steven; Cooper, Henry S. F. Jr., Wallace, Thomas C. (2002). Manuscript Society (1953-2002). (New Haven, CT: Phoenix Press).
- "Tombs & Taps" section of online Magazine, retrieved 2010
- Yale University | Office of the Secretary
- Article on 344 BC
- Havemeyer, Loomis. 1960. "Go to your room"; a story of undergraduate societies and fraternities at Yale. New Haven : 1960.
- Yale Extracurricular and Social Organizations publication, retrieved 26 March 2012
- Perotta, T. Joe College (New York, St. Martins : 2005) pp. 105-116
- Architectural Record, November 1965. "Ingenious Use of a Narrow Site".
- Yale Base list of Secret Societies, retrieved 26 March 2012
- Wenzel, R. Economic Policy Journal. "Doing a background check on CNN" (26 December 2011), retrieved on 26 March 2012
- Biographical Sketch of Juan Negrin, retrieved 22 March 2012
- buzzle.com biography of Anderson Cooper, retrieved June 4, 2011
- Listing in the George Washington Univ. Law School Directory, retrieved 26 March 2012
- Hodara, S. The New York Times, "Interpreting a Blueprint for Birds". (Arts and Entertainment, 01/13/2008), retrieved 26 March 2012
- Elisabeth Waterston bio, retrieved 26 March 2012
- Giroud, V. French Opera, A Short History. (New Haven CT, Yale Univ. Press : 2010) ISBN 978-0-300-11765-3
- 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
- Perrotta, Tom. Joe College: A Novel (2000) ISBN 0-312-36178-5
- Light & Truth Publication
- King-lui Wu
- Architectural Record, November 1965. "Ingenious Use of a Narrow Site".