Skip to main content


Yorkshire Subject Strength

Although we do not specialise in the local history of Leeds, Special Collections still have an extensive amount of related material that may interest local history researchers.

Much of Special Collections’ holdings are rooted in Yorkshire and the Leeds area, from the University’s own archives, the papers of Yorkshire poets who held University Fellowships, to Leeds-based crime writers. Many of our collections relate specifically to Yorkshire places and communities, of which the following are good examples.

Leeds General Cemetery

The archive collection includes the indexed burial registers and extensive papers relating to the former cemetery, or "Woodhouse Cemetery", established in 1835 and now known as St George's Fields, Leeds.

Family Estates

The Library holds two major collections of family-based estate papers. The very large Wentworth-Woolley Hall archive relates to the Wentworth family of Woolley Hall, near Wakefield, and stretches from the 14th to the 19th century. The Eshton Hall archive mainly comprises 19th century financial records (but with some diaries and letters) of the Eshton Hall estate, near Skipton.

Deeds and Manorial Documents

The Wilson of Broomhead collection comprises a huge collection of Yorkshire deeds, court rolls and manorial documents assembled by the antiquarian John Wilson (1719-1783).

Most date from the 16th or 17th century, but some go back to the medieval period. They include papers, accounts and correspondence of the Wilson family; documents relating to the churches, parish and castle of Sheffield; manorial records of Sheffield and the surrounding area; parochial records of Bradfield, Ecclesfield and other Yorkshire parishes; and 16th century law suits.

Yorkshire Printed Books

There are two collections of books on all aspects of Yorkshire life, culture and history: a Yorkshire printed material collection and the Yorkshire-related material collected by Lord Brotherton.

The former includes local histories, church and parish histories, biographies and rare and early editions of works by eminent Yorkshiremen such as Joseph Priestley. There is a substantial number of directories, gazetteers and guide books.

Yorkshire material accumulated by Lord Brotherton is especially strong in printed books and pamphlets. A major part of it derived from the collections of WT Freemantle of Rotherham, the Sheffield bibliographer.

Yorkshire-related manuscripts in Brotherton's Collection include several copies of the Fairfax family compilation known as Analecta Fairfaxiana, and a reasonable copy of the poems of the famous Parliamentary general, Thomas Fairfax.

There is also a document signed by Guy Fawkes concerning the disposition of his property.

Ripon Cathedral

The archives of the Dean and Chapter of Ripon Cathedral cover all aspects of the history of the church at Ripon from the late Middle Ages to the 20th century. The collection includes Chapter Act books, service registers, financial papers, documents relating to charities, and material relating to the choir and music, the fabric of the Minster, hospitals and schools, the Canon Fee Court, and Chapter property and tithes.


The Carlton Hill and Clifford Street archives together form the major resource nationally for the study of Yorkshire Quaker history. Their most important component is the minute books of Quaker meetings throughout a large part of West and North Yorkshire, dating back to the 17th century.

Yorkshire Archaeological & Historical Society (YAHS)

Built up over 150 years, the YAHS collections are a rich resource for various aspects of history across the county, including family and estate papers, religious records and papers from small local businesses.