Skip to main content

Leeds Archive of Vernacular Culture

'Trailing' for bonfire wood, Castle Bolton, North Yorkshire (1967)

The Leeds Archive of Vernacular Culture (LAVC) comprises the multi-media archives of the Survey of English Dialects (SED) that ran under the direction of Professor Harold Orton from the 1950s to early 1960s and the University of Leeds’s Institute of Dialect and Folk Life Studies (IDFLS) that operated 1964-1983.

Together they represent a record of dialect, culture, beliefs and ways of life in rural England from the late 19th-20th centuries. The archive is of significant value to linguistic, cultural, community and family history researchers, offering fascinating insights into how our ancestors lived, worked and spoke.

The material covers a broad range of subject areas, including:

  • Language and dialect
  • Food and drink
  • Working life (including tools, utensils, materials and methods)
  • Crafts, hobbies and pastimes
  • Buildings/vernacular architecture
  • Culture and tradition (folklore, music, drama and dance)
  • Customs and beliefs
  • Material culture

What's in the collection

Creation of the archive

In the early 1990s the archives of the IDFLS and SED were moved to Special Collections at the Brotherton Library (University of Leeds). In 2002, the University Library received an award from the Arts and Humanities Research Board (AHRB) at which point the two collections were merged resulting in the creation of the LAVC, with an archive catalogue, arranged into 16 series (many by format).

The LAVC Collection is currently the subject of a National Lottery Heritage Fund Bid to enhance the catalogue and undertake a programme of digtisation, outreach and research.

See also