Thoresby Society articles about the history of Leeds
Thoresby Society chronology of Leeds
Thoresby Society excursions around Leeds
Thoresby Society lectures
Thoresby Society library
Thoresby Society membership
Thoresby Society publications
Thoresby Society - Ralph Thoresby
Thoresby Society - 800 years exhibition
Thoresby Society - treasures
Thoresby Society - events
Thoresby Society - links
Thoresby Society - Thoresbys Diary
Thoresby Society - Research Day
Thoresby Society - Contacts
Thoresby Society index

The Thoresby Society

The Historical Society for Leeds and District
Founded 1889


The Library and Archive Collection

Hon. Librarians: John Townsend and Eveleigh Bradford

Important: Library Closure. The Thoresby Society library and archive will close at the end of February so that arrangements can be made for its transfer to its new home in the Leeds Library in Commercial Street, Leeds. It is hoped to reopen the library and archive in its new location by the end of 2015: please check the website here for further information. Meanwhile, members who have books on loan from the library are asked to return them to the library as soon as possible. While the library is closed, we regret that it will not be possible to deal with any enquiries relating to material in the library and archive collection or general enquiries on Leeds historical topics.

The Society’s Library houses a unique collection of materials concerned with the history of Leeds, built up over the 100 and more years of the Society’s existence. The collection includes books and pamphlets, newspapers, maps and plans, pictures and photographs, manuscripts and original documents. Various catalogues are available to help members and visitors to find their way round the collection. You will find more details of the Library’s collection below.

Location and Access
The Library is housed at ‘Claremont’, Clarendon Road, Leeds, a historic house which is also the headquarters of the Yorkshire Archaeological Society. The Thoresby Society Library is on the first floor, but there is unfortunately no lift. Visitors for whom stairs present a problem are advised to telephone before visiting to discuss what arrangements can be made for access to materials.

‘Claremont’ is located at the southern end of Clarendon Road, near Woodhouse Square, within walking distance of the city centre and the rail station. Car parking space on site is very limited, and street parking in the neighbourhood is restricted: if you are travelling by car you are advised to use one of the city centre car parks. The circular city centre bus service has a bus stop very close to Claremont at Woodhouse Square [the stop after Park Lane College]

Opening hours
Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

As the Library is staffed by volunteers, there may be occasions when it is not possible to open the Library as scheduled, so if you are travelling from a distance, it is always advisable to write or ring before planning a visit .

The telephone number is 0113 247 0704 and a message can be left if the Library is not open.
Address 'Claremont', 23 Clarendon Road, Leeds, LS2 9NZ

to e-mail the library click the link Library

Borrowing Arrangements for Members
Members of the Society are entitled to borrow most books and pamphlets in the collection for a period of up to three months. Some books however are for reference only.

Arrangements for Non-Members
The Library is open to visitors and enquirers, who are welcome to come to search the catalogues for material of interest to them. This facility is free of charge. However, if access to books, maps, illustrated materials or manuscripts is required, the Society, which is entirely self-supporting, would be grateful for an appropriate donation.

Every effort will be made to respond to initial postal and email enquiries about the collection, but it is unfortunately not possible for the Society to pursue research on behalf of enquirers.

Research Facilities
If members or enquirers wish to visit the library to undertake research, particularly on topics requiring access to the map or manuscript collections, please write to make an appointment, giving as much detail as possible of your area of interest and the kind of material you are looking for. This will help the staff in the Library to identify resources and have them available for you. All the Library staff are volunteers: they will do their best to locate relevant material for you, but they cannot offer to undertake research on behalf of members or enquirers.

Limited photocopying facilities are available (there is a scale of charges). However some books or documents may be too fragile to photocopy. Library staff will advise on this.

More about the Collection
The book collection includes a wide range of nineteenth century and later publications on aspects of the history of Leeds and its environs. Reference books include street directories and poll books, a full set of the Society’s publications since its foundation, and transactions of various other historical societies in neighbouring counties. (Note: Stocks are held of many of the Society’s past publications, and these are available for purchase.)

There is a large collection of pamphlets, offprints of articles, and ephemera concerned with Leeds, including music and theatre programmes and posters.

There is a large though not complete collection of Leeds newspapers dating from the 18th to the early 20th centuries, some very fragile, and some personal albums of newspaper cuttings (not indexed).

The print and photograph collection covers Leeds and neighbourhood, and includes some portraits. (Work is currently ongoing to conserve and re-catalogue the collection.) There are also some donated albums of photographs. A selection of images from the Society’s collection can be viewed on the Leodis website.

There is an extensive collection of maps and plans, mainly dating from the nineteenth century, some photocopies but mainly original sheets. The estate plans are of special interest. There is also a collection of Particulars of Sale from the early nineteenth century onwards, many of which include detailed plans.

The Society’s archive collection is unique: it includes some personal diaries, original manuscripts and documents, deeds, and notes collected in the course of various historical research projects undertaken by members of the Society. These have been listed on the National Archive’s A2A (Access to Archives) website, where they can be viewed.

An Invitation
If you are already a member of the Society, you are by definition interested in the history of Leeds – so if you have not yet visited the Library, please come along to browse and make use of this unique collection.

If you are not yet a member, you are nevertheless very welcome to visit the Library and see what the collection comprises. We hope you will want to join us!