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Subject Guide to Special Collections


Our collections offer a network of inter-linked primary and secondary sources relevant to the study of social, political and cultural life from the 19th century to the present. Here you can find overviews of areas where we have particularly strong collections. You can also search for subjects via our various catalogues. Contact Special Collections staff if you need further assistance.


Special Collections on Archaeology

History: Bradford, West Riding, Yorkshire Dales

Special Collections on Bradford, the West Riding and the Yorkshire Dales

History: Britain and Ireland

The strengths of Special Collections in this area are in modern history, from the 19th century to the present.

Note also that many of the peace-related collections are highly relevant to historians.

History: international

Many of the peace-related collections concern international developments and shared campaigns.  Following the University's historic research interests and Commonweal's specialisms, we have clusters of collections concerning particular regions:


India: Papers of Barbara Bruce and Geoffrey Ostergaard.

South Africa: Records of Operation Namibia and the Laredo South African Archive.

We would also highlight:

History of the University of Bradford

Special Collections on the history of the University of Bradford


The Archive of Bradford-born author and broadcaster J.B. Priestley is our most notable and popular literary archive.  We are seeing increasing interest in the archive of his wife, Jacquetta Hawkes, archaeologist and poet.  Both collections reflect the Priestleys' connections with other literary figures, such as Iris Murdoch and Storm Jameson.

Our other Bradford/Yorkshire literary archives include popular novelist Willie Riley, priest and author John Waddington-Feather, and chronicler of the Dales Bill Mitchell.  Our Local and Regional Collection includes extensive collections of writings by local authors. 

Other literary archives link to collection strengths in radical politics and ideas of the 20th century, for example: Correspondence of Mairet, McLaughlin, WeltonPeart-Binns Christian Socialist Archive, and the Dimitrije Mitrinovic and New Atlantis Foundation Library and Archive.

Peace, politics and social change

Special Collections on Peace, Politics and Social Change


Many of our peace-related collections were created by individuals and groups whose religious beliefs fed into their campaigning and testimony. For example, many of those active at the Molesworth Peace Camp.

We also see the strong influence of non-conformist religion on society and culture of Bradford and the West Riding in the 19th and 20th centuries.  Witness local Methodist author W. Riley.

Quakers are particularly well-represented in our collections:

Note also the many theological and esoteric works in the Mitrinovic Library and the Christian socialist material listed under Literature.  We also have some collections concerning Anglicans: bishops and a local priest.

Science, technology and medicine

We have a wide range of historic books on these subjects, thanks to the original interests of the Technical College which became the University. See for instance the Dyeing and Textile History, History of Pharmacy and History of Science and Technology Collections.

Archival collections include: