Special Collections

Bradford Authors

Mostly fiction, poetry, drama.

The Bradford Collection

The Local Studies Library houses a unique collection, which includes books, newspapers, maps, illustrations etc., on the history and present development of the area now covered by the City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council.

Brontë Collection

Works by, about, criticism.
View the catalogue (PDF, 228kb)

Delius Collection

Books, records, music scores.

Dickons Collection

C19th pamphlets, books.

Empsall Collection

C19th pamphlets, books.

Federer Collection

C19th pamphlets, books.

Oral History Collection

This unique collection of over 800 tape recorded interviews with local people is an invaluable source for recent local history. It includes:

  1. Sound recordings, transcripts and summaries of local people’s memories, including subject areas such as textiles, health, war, immigration to Bradford. Listening facilities are available.
  2. Books, periodicals and journal articles about memory sharing and the theory and practice of oral history.

Priestley Collection

Books, articles, criticism.

The Yorkshire Collection

This includes books covering the history and development of Yorkshire generally. Some are available on the open shelves for browsing, most are in stores. The collection includes standard histories of many Yorkshire towns and cities, some Yorkshire pedigrees and Yorkshire dialect etc.

There are also specialised collections in our other libraries…..

Ilkley Library

Collyer Collection

approximately 150 books on Yorkshire dating from the early 1800s to the mid C18th.

Shuttleworth Collection

30 volumes of photographs of Ilkley dating back to the late 1800s.

Keighley Local Studies Library



When Keighley Library opened in 1904, it already had its own archive consisting of the records of the Keighley Mechanics’ Institute and its book stock. This collection has slowly increased over the years and today, Keighley Local Studies Library provides access to a unique collection that relates to all aspects of the history and development of the district.

Almost 700 local family, business, education, church, chapel and local society collections, as well as the Township and Borough records of Keighley and local district make this a significant archive repository within West Yorkshire. It also includes a number of further larger private collections some listed below. Most of Keighley’s collection can now be searched using the West Yorkshire Archive Service, online catalogue please follow the link below.

West Yorkshire Archives Service Catalogue


Keighley Township and Borough records

These include the area’s early rural district council records, (BMT)

Poor Law records for the Keighley Union (KU)  and North Bierley Union (NBU) areas and local health reports.

Education records

This includes large collections for the Keighley Mechanics’ Institute; later Keighley College and Keighley’s Gammar schools, as well as other local school records.

Keighley Mechanics institute Records (BK2)

Keighley Boys’ Grammar School: (BK609).

Keighley Girls’ Grammar School, (BK613


Industry is represented by individual business collections such as Prince Smith & Stell, the Keighley Industrial Co-operative Society, local mill reports and business directories.

Family Records

Family records have also been deposited over the years including photographs, diaries, war records and these are supplemented for family historians by the collection of Church and Chapel records. Local clubs and societies also feature in the collection.

Brigg Collection, Archive BK 10

The Brigg family was amongst the most prominent and philanthropic families of the 19th and early 20th centuries in Keighley. They were originally descended from 15th century yeoman farmers but successfully moved into worsted manufacturing, initially at Walk Mill, then Brow End Mill in 1814. The family members became involved in the religious, political and economic aspects of the town’s development and were also later involved with its educational development through the Mechanics’ Institute, Trade & Grammar School and the Public Library. Keighley Local Studies Library is privileged to hold the large archive of the Brigg family which reflects their interests and local responsibilities and dates back to the 16th century. 

Bronte Collection

Outside the Brontë Parsonage Museum Library, this is one of the largest collections of study resources for the Brontë family in the area. It includes critical literaturebiography, the Brontë Society Transactions, national and local journal articles, and a collection of indexed news cuttings, compiled by the library over the years.

For further details please see the new leaflet

Lord and Lady Snowden collection

 Philip Snowden (1864-1937) was Chancellor of the Exchequer in the first two Labour governments of Great Britain. He was elected to Keighley Town Council in 1899 and to the School Board.  In 1903, he became the national chairman of the Independent Labour Party, following a conversion to the new ideology of Socialism. With his wife Ethel Annakin, he championed votes for women and was a member of the Men’s League for Women’s Suffrage.

The library holds a significant collection of the couple’s books and pamphlets, in the subjects of social, economic and political studies. The collection is catalogued and is available for reference only.

Snowden library

Local authors

A substantial collection of books and poetry: written by authors from the Yorkshire region, with a particular emphasis on the Keighley area. Notable authors include:  Asa Briggs, Keighley Snowden, Austin Lee and W Riley. Poets and Plays by John Nicholson the Airedale Poet. William Wright ( Bill O’th Hoylus End) and Gordon Bottomley. A catalogue of these books is available from the library desk.

Yorkshire Book Collection

A substantial collection of books: covering the whole Yorkshire Region. Consisting of  the Milligan collection, books that were transferred to Keighley library on its opening in 1904 from the Keighley Mechanics Institute  Also including books from the following collections; Brigg Family, Jonas Bradley and A R Harrison collections

Shipley Library

Bryan Mosley Collection


2 thoughts on “Special Collections

  1. Hello from North Carolina. We are doing research on our Grandfather RICHARD SHARPE SMITH. He was born in KEIGHLEY YORKSHIRE England in 1852. He was trained in London in architecture. He immigrated to the US to NY originally and then settled in Asheville North Carolina as He was employed by the Richard Morris Hunt Architectural firm of NYC to be the resident architect of the Biltmore House, the home of George Vanderbilt. He remained in Asheville NC & established his own firm. We were wondering if you could help us trace his family history there in Keighley. Any help would be greatly appreciated! THANKS! Lainey Smith


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