The Thoresby Society

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The Thoresby Society is the historical society for Leeds and its surrounding area and is open to everyone interested in the city’s rich past and its development over the centuries. It has a long-established library and archive collection, including historical records, maps, newspapers, and images, provides a varied programme of monthly talks and summer excursions, and publishes original research on aspects of Leeds history in its highly regarded annual publication (free to members).

The Society was named after Ralph Thoresby (1658-1725), the first historian of Leeds. It was founded in 1889 to encourage and foster an interest in the history of Leeds and its area, to support and publish relevant research, and to collect and preserve material from the past. Today it continues to welcome new members with an interest in local history, and its collections and lectures are open to the public.

The Society is based in the historic Leeds Library, an independent library founded in 1768, in Commercial Street, Leeds LS1 6AL, in the heart of the city. The Society’s library and archive collection is located here, and members are welcome to use the library and the facilities of the Leeds Library, which is open every weekday and Saturday mornings.

Venue Type:

Archive, Association or society, Library

Opening hours

Access to archives, maps and images: members and researchers will need to make an appointment by sending an email to

As much notice as possible should be given, preferably at least a week. Catalogues for these resources are available online at

The normal opening hours of the Leeds Library are:

Monday: 9.30am - 6.00pm
Tuesday: 9.30am - 6.00pm
Wednesday: 9.30am - 6.00pm
Thursday: 9.30am - 7.00pm
Friday: 9.30am - 5.00pm
Saturday: 9.30am - 1.30pm
Sunday: CLOSED

Admission charges

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.

The Society’s Library houses a unique collection of materials concerned with the history of Leeds, built up over the 125 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. Members of the Society are entitled to borrow books and pamphlets in the collection (except for works of reference and certain designated volumes) for a period of up to three months.

Collection details


The Thoresby Society
The Leeds Library,
18 Commercial Street,
West Yorkshire




You can contact us through the Leeds Library

0113 245 3071

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.