Celebrating Archives: Leeds University Library Special Collections

14 Oct, 2018

Celebrating Archives: Leeds University Library Special Collections

Leeds University Library’s Special Collections is home to hundreds of thousands of rare books, manuscripts, archives and art. Our collections offer a rich resource for staff, students, and the wider research community.

The archives are located in the Brotherton Library in the Parkinson Building on Woodhouse Lane and are free to consult by appointment.

Special Collections opening hours: Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm, Saturday 10am – 1pm.

This expansive archive of rare and unique material holds substantial collections of science and medicine, politics and social history, business and economics, the Yorkshire Quaker archives and a focus on the Yorkshire area. It also includes five Arts Council designated collections:

  • The English Literature Collection spans from the 16th century up to the present day. Particular highlights from this collection include a First Edition Folio of Shakespeare’s plays, letters and manuscripts written by members of the Brontë family, and the archives of poets Simon Armitage and Tony Harrison.
  • The Cookery Collection contains printed and archival material relating to food and cooking that dates from the late 15th century until the present day. The collection includes material related to gastronomy, home economics, medicinal uses of food and confectionary.
  • The Gypsy, Traveller and Roma Collections are made up of a number of separate collections covering subjects such as art, literature, history, culture, language/linguistics, philology, sociology religion, law, politics, human rights, activism and geography.
  • The Leeds Russian Archive is a major international resource for the study of Anglo-Russian relations in the 19th and 20th centuries and is comprised of around 650 collections of manuscripts, photographs, and other archival material.
  • The Liddle Collection documents and preserves first-hand accounts of individuals who experienced the two World Wars. It includes personal papers of over 6,500 people, photographs and drawings, official and unofficial papers, diaries and correspondence and over 1500 artefacts


The Special Collections website hosts a range of digital resources where researchers can explore the library’s collection of Medieval manuscripts, discover coins from the classical period to the mid-1700s held in the Winchester Cabinet, explore the notebook in which William Henry Bragg and William Lawrence Bragg recorded the results of their Nobel prize-winning experiments carried out in the summer of 1913, search the Leeds General Cemetery Collection and much more. The library has a dedicated digitisation team who facilitate public requests.

The two Leeds University Library Galleries are also part of Special Collections and are free and open to the public. In the Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery you can see a permanent display of some of our finest rare books and manuscripts, and two special exhibitions each year which take an in-depth look at different aspects of the archives. The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery displays important works from the University collection of over 3,500 paintings, sculptures and works on paper, with three special exhibitions per year.

Both Galleries are located in the Parkinson Building.

Galleries opening hours: Monday 1pm – 5pm and Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 5pm.


Contact details:

Special Collections

The Brotherton Library

University of Leeds



Email: specialcollections@library.leeds.ac.uk

Phone: 0113 343 5518

Twitter: @LULGalleries

Clare O'Grady