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View of the south elevation of the University

If you're interested in researching past teaching methods, teaching material or educational history and philosophy, then Special Collections has a number of collections and archives that may be useful.

You can also trace the development of the University of Leeds in the University Archive or browse the papers of educational and learned societies and associations.

Early education printed books

The early education printed book collection consists mainly of school textbooks and works on teaching methods and the philosophy of education dating from between 1625 and 1988. Latin and English language grammars feature strongly.

Around three quarters of the collection was published in the late 18th century and 19th century. Many of the later 19th century and 20th century books are examples of children's fiction.

Among the items in the collection you can find:

  • readers (collections of prose and poetry)
  • textbooks on mathematics, scripture, history, geography, natural history, science and other subjects
  • works on the conduct of life, especially for young women
  • studies of the history of education.

Education printed books

Many of the works in our education printed books collection are concerned with educational philosophy and methods.

The collection spans the years 1650 to 1993, although the majority of texts date from the 19th and 20th centuries.

The collection also contains the writings and biographies of prominent educationalists, histories of schools and other educational bodies and a large number of annual reports and prospectuses published by a wide variety of educational organisations.

Most of the 20th century works in the collection are examples of children's literature.

WB Thompson collection of textbooks

The WB Thompson collection consists of over 9,500 books, including the National Collection of Greek and Latin School Textbooks.

Thompson (1914–2005) was a member of the University Education department. He developed the collection, concentrating on texts used in the teaching of Classics in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Although most of the works are themselves in either Latin or Ancient Greek, the collection also contains some translations and critical works in English.

University of Leeds archive

Special Collections manages the institutional archive of the University and its predecessor bodies: the Yorkshire College of Science, Yorkshire College, and Leeds Medical School.

You can chart the history of the organisation through its archive, tracing the governance of the organisation, development of departments, student and academic life.

The University Calendar is a useful source for tracing course development and individual staff. The Student Newspaper is a popular source to trace the social and student life of the University. This has been published under various names including ‘The Gryphon’ and ‘Leeds Student’.

Sir Michael Sadler papers

Special Collections holds a substantial collection of papers of the educationalist Sir Michael Sadler (1861–1943), one time Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds.

These include lectures, talks, essays, press cuttings and some correspondence, as well as an associated collection of printed publications by and about Sadler.

Learned Societies

Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society

The papers of the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society date back to its beginnings in the early 19th century and consist of minute books, accounts, resolutions, lists of members, bills, correspondence, documents concerning lecture programmes, and papers relating to the future of the Society.

The former library of the society donated in 1937, contains some 10,000 books and pamphlets. It also contains long runs of journals of similar bodies, some of which we still maintain.

British Society for the History of Science

The collection of the British Society for the History of Science includes reports, notes, minutes, correspondence and papers for submission to the British Journal for the History of Science. These date from 1944-2015 and are of interest to researchers into the history of science, technology and medicine.

Yorkshire Geological Society

The archives of the Yorkshire Geological Society consist mainly of the society's symposia papers and correspondence from the 20th century. There are minute books dating back to the establishment of the society in 1837. Researchers can use the collection to study the development of geosciences in Yorkshire.

Society for the Study of Theology

The collection of the Society for the Study of Theology contains conference papers, administrative papers and a minute book dating from the founding of the society in 1952 to 2017. It is of interest to researchers into Christian theology.

Education Associations

Special Collections holds archival collections for a number of education associations from the 20th century. These often trace complex changes in educational practice.

Collections typically contain minutes, reports, correspondence, membership registers and press cuttings.

Named collections include: