Leeds University Library

Quaker Collections Guide

Quaker Archive guide


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The University Library is the main repository for Yorkshire Quaker Archives. We have two main archives (Carlton Hill and Clifford Street), as well as Joseph Wood Archive, a book collection, and direct and original registers of births, marriages and deaths.

Quakers in Yorkshire

Quakerism arrived early in Yorkshire, and was the site of the first settled meetings and the source of early forms of Quaker organisation and discipline.

Quakers (formally known as the Society of Friends) have always been careful to preserve records of their activities.

The two main archive collections

The two main collections of Quaker records are the Carlton Hill Collection and the Clifford Street Collection.

The two archives were deposited in Special Collections in 1979 and 1981, and were accompanied by rich collections of Quaker books and pamphlets.

Carlton Hill broadly covers the Leeds, Bradford, Settle, and Knaresborough areas; Clifford Street the York and Thirsk areas, as well as records for Yorkshire as a whole.

Both collections principally contain minute books and other administrative records (finance, property, membership, etc.) generated by the different levels of Quaker meetings (traditionally quarterly, monthly, and preparative).

Browse the Carlton Hill and Clifford Street collections

To browse the contents of the Carlton Hill and Clifford Street collections, it is important to know which type of meeting you are looking for.

There are four hierarchical levels of Quaker meetings:

  • Yearly Meeting (i.e. the national body): known since 2007 as Quakers in Yorkshire and scarcely represented in the collection
  • Yorkshire Quarterly Meeting (QM)
  • Monthly Meetings (MM)
  • Preparative (or local) Meetings (PM)

The records of quarterly and monthly meetings within the two collections are:

  • Yorkshire QM records from the 17th to 20th century (Clifford Street)
  • Brighouse MM records, including Bradford, Halifax, and Huddersfield, from the 17th to the 21st century (Carlton Hill and Clifford Street)
  • Knaresborough MM records from the17th century to1853 (Carlton Hill and Clifford Street)
  • Leeds MM from 1924 (Carlton Hill)
  • Settle MM records from the 17th to the 21st century (Carlton Hill)
  • Thirsk MM records from the 17th century to1827 (Clifford Street)
  • York MM records from the 17th to the 20th century (Clifford Street)

Detailed information about the meetings and records can be found by clicking on the plus signs on the left-hand side.

The Carlton Hill index

The Carlton Hill index was compiled from indexes of (mainly) personal names occurring within some of the most important documents in the Carlton Hill archive. There is no corresponding index for the Clifford Street archives, but many volumes in that collection have original handwritten indexes.

Typescript indexes to certain other documents are also available, along with more detailed catalogue descriptions.

The Joseph Wood Archive

Search the Joseph Wood Archive

The Joseph Wood Archive contains letters and notebooks written by the Quietist Quaker Joseph Wood between 1767 and 1821. It also contains various documents related to Quaker meetings and others on religious themes.

Joseph Wood was a prolific writer, and often recorded his thoughts, itineraries, letters and poems in his notebooks. His papers include varied documents relating to Quaker life, including testimonies, meditations, and meeting papers.

The notebooks are excellent examples of handmade books. They are of interest for the papers used, their construction, and the evidence they give about the development of writing implements. The covers of 90 notebooks have been cut from contemporary wallpapers, decorative papers and pen drawings. Many have annotations.

Other Quaker archives

Photocopies of the Digest Registers for Yorkshire Quaker births, marriages and burials from the 17th century up to 1837 are shelved on open access in the reading room. A complete set of microfilms are kept in the main Brotherton Library (microfilm 2459).

Special Collections also holds many other Quaker-related archival collections, large and small, notably the papers of prominent Yorkshire Quakers and Quaker families, including the Harvey and Ford families of Leeds.

Book collections

The Birkbeck Library and Leeds Friends Old Library, which largely date from the 17th to the 19th century, contain over 4,500 books related to Quakerism.

The Society of Friends collection contains mostly modern books about Quakerism.