The Leeds social history collections started with an emphasis on ‘bygones’ and folk life in the 1920s. Reconstructed street displays at Abbey House were then added in the 1950s, recreating life in Victorian Leeds.
Our social history collection is particularly significant in the areas of childhood toys and games, retailing history, domestic life, musical instruments, slot machines and automata and printed ephemera. This has resulted in a rich and wide-ranging collection of material, spanning over 100,000 items.
The emphasis for recent collecting has been material with strong local links to Leeds history and manufacture or association with Leeds people, communities and organisations, from the post- medieval period to the present day. We are particularly interested in objects with a story to tell about life in Leeds and the surrounding area.
Our extensive collections include the Ernestine Henry Chimney Sweep Collection, the Waddington archive of games and puzzles and a number of personal objects donated by Leonora Cohen.