The collection traces its history to the founding of Howard University, which was established originally for the purpose of training “colored preachers and teachers.” The Howard University School of Religion and its then-reading room originally were located on Howard’s main campus in Douglass Hall. In the 1930s, both were relocated to the nearby Carnegie Building, also on main campus. The move afforded the School considerable space for growth.
In 1940, Dr. Benjamin E. Mays, Dean of the School of Religion, purchased a portion of the Auburn Seminary Library collection when that seminary’s library merged with the Union Theological Seminary Library. This single acquisition greatly expanded the Howard Divinity School’s reference and resources collections and was a significant factor in the Howard Divinity School receiving its first accreditation. In 1977, the School of Religion moved to 1240 Randolph Street, NW, marking the inception of an East Campus for Howard University. This move, too, afforded the school an upgrade in terms of facilities; however, the space soon became insufficient for the school’s growing enrollment.
These obstacles were removed in 1987 with the relocation of the School of Divinity to 1400 Shepherd Street, NE. under the leadership of Dean Lawrence Neale Jones, who placed the library in the center of the Divinity School. On January 21, 2010 the Divinity Library was dedicated as the Lawrence Neale Jones Library in tribute to its namesake, who served diligently as dean from 1975 to 1991.
The Library Collection for the HowardUniversity School of Divinity is located, since July 2015, in the Howard University School of Law Library Building at 2929 Van Ness Street NW. The Library Collection’s subject emphases include biblical studies, reformed theology, church history, ethics, world religions, pastoral counseling, and urban ministries. It supports the teaching and research needs of Divinity students, faculty, and other scholars within the Howard University community and globally. It supports the degree programs for the Master of Divinity, dual degrees including Master of Divinity/Master of Social Work, Master of Divinity/Master of Business Administration, as well as Master of Arts (Religious Study), and Doctor of Ministry.