Leeds University Library

Yorkshire Archaeological and Historical Society Collection

The Yorkshire Archaeological and Historical Society has been acquiring books and manuscripts related to Yorkshire’s past since it was founded as the Huddersfield Archaeological and Topographical Association in 1863.

The Society’s library and archive collections have been deposited with the University of Leeds. The collections are a rich and varied resource for local, family, architectural, economic, social, religious, landscape and medieval history.

Search the collection

All archive and library items within the collection are prefixed with “YAS”.

Since being transferred to Special Collections, the Society’s collection finding numbers (beginning MS, MD, and DD) are unchanged.

Books published prior to 1851 are accessible through the Special Collections reading room.

We need at least two working days’ notice to retrieve items from the collection.

The modern printed material from the Society’s library is available on the open access shelves on Level 2 of the Brotherton Library West Building. Modern material is catalogued in the main Library catalogue with the prefix “YAHS.”

What's in the collection

The printed book collection contains a broad range of works relating to the history and archaeology of Yorkshire and the North of England. It also includes reports on important UK-wide archaeological sites, and studies which contextualise the history of archaeology of Yorkshire.

The archives include manorial court rolls, estate papers of leading British families, and a splendid collection of deeds and manuscripts.

Family papers within the collection include papers of the Osbornes, Dukes of Leeds, the Slingsbys of Scriven, the Copleys of Sprotborough, Skipton Castle estates, the Ferrand family of St Ives, Bingley, the Middeltons of Stockeld, the Clarke-Thornhills of Fixby and the Annes of Burghwallis Hall.

The most important manorial holdings are the Wakefield manor court rolls which form an almost unbroken sequence from 1274 to the end of the manorial system in the 1920s. Their significance is recognised by their inscription on the UNESCO UK Memory of the World Register.

The manuscripts include:

  • the papers of Leeds Antiquarian Ralph Thoresby
  • original watercolours by George Walker
  • archives of the Listers (Lords Ribblesdale)
  • papers of the archaeologists Mary Kitson Clark, Ella Armitage, B.W.J. Kent, Frank Elgee, Francis Villy and W.H. St John Hope
  • medieval monastic records, including the 15th century Fountains Abbey Stock Book.

Find out more about the Society

The Yorkshire Archaeological and Historical Society continues to promote the study of Yorkshire’s past through talks, excursions, events and publications.