The Society is keen to encourage anyone with an interest in local history to undertake their own research. This page offers a brief guide to the key libraries, archives, museums and resources for local history in Kirklees. We have provided links to their websites, where you will find their full addresses and contact details.
Other on-line resources for local history appear on our Useful Links page.
Colne Valley Museum — colnevalleymuseum.org.uk
The Colne Valley Museum holds objects and artefacts relating to the history of work and life in the Colne Valley. The Museum is housed in former weaver cottages and its permanent displays include a kitchen and living room as it would have appeared in the 1850s, a loom chamber, spinning and cropping rooms and a fully equipped clog-maker’s workshop. In addition to these permanent displays the museum hosts regularly changing temporary exhibitions and collects material on Colne Valley History.
Huddersfield & District Family History Society — hdfhs.org.uk
The society was formed in 1987 and is for all those who are interested in genealogy and family history connected to the Metropolitan District of Kirklees. The Society maintains a resource centre which offers the following: free Internet access to Ancestry and Find My Past; local census records; a growing collection of Parish Records for the Kirklees area on microfiche; the GENDEX database (of all transcriptions produced by the society); the current NBI and burials for the Kirklees area transcribed so far; 1992 IGI for the British Isles; probate calendars from 1858 to 1943 on microfiche; and the HDFHS library. Readers requiring a fiche reader or a computer are advised to book a place 24 hours in advance by ringing 01484 859229.
Huddersfield & District Archaeological Society — huddarch.org.uk
The Society actively studies, explores and records the archaeology of the Huddersfield area. The Society was founded in 1956 and covers pre-history, the Roman and mediaeval periods and the archaeology of the recent past. It has a library of specialist books and an extensive archive of the Society’s archaeological activities over the past 50 years.
Huddersfield Local Studies Library — communitydirectory.kirklees.gov.uk/communitydirectory/organisationdetails.aspx?orgid=3101
Key holdings include a large collection of historical Ordnance Survey maps covering the Kirklees area from 1843 onwards. Copies of tithe maps are also available and some earlier printed maps, including Jeffrey’s Yorkshire of 1778. Copies of local newspapers (some of which date back to the 19th century) are held on microfilm. These include the Batley News, Colne Valley Guardian, Dewsbury Reporter and the Huddersfield Examiner. The library also holds an incomplete run of the Leeds Mercury. Visitors to the library are also able to access digitised British Library nineteenth century newspapers via the Gale Group database, which includes a digital version of the Huddersfield Chronicle (1850-1900). (This database is also available from home computers to members of Kirklees Libraries.)
The library has a collection of trade directories, including Kelly’s Post Office directories which contain lists of private residents. The earliest directory in the collection dates from 1819. The local studies library also holds a large number of resources for family historians including census records, parish records and the International Genealogical Index for Yorkshire. Readers can access old photographs of Huddersfield and the surrounding area via the Kirklees Image Archive http://www.kirkleesimages.org.uk/index.php. A wide range of local history books and pamphlets can also be consulted.
Heritage Quay (formerly Huddersfield University Archive and Special Collections) — heritagequay.org
The University Archive and Special Collections holds a number of archives relating to the educational, political and industrial heritage of Kirklees including: Huddersfield Mechanics’ Institution 1843-1884; Huddersfield Female Educational Institute 1846-1883; Huddersfield Foreign Library Society 1851-1870; Huddersfield Literary and Scientific Society 1857-1882; Huddersfield Fine Art and Industrial Exhibition 1882-1884; Colne Valley Labour Party 1891-1970; Huddersfield Labour Party 1918-1990s and some material relating to J.P.W. Mallalieu MP. The University also holds several oral history collections including Asian Voices, ‘Up and Under’ Rugby League and oral history reminiscences and other records relating to the history of theatre in Huddersfield. Sport history is also well represented with the Rugby Football League Archive (1898-2002) and the Yorkshire cricket collection.
Huddersfield University Sound, Craft, Vision, Place project — hud.ac.uk/research/researchcentres/soundcraftvisionplace/
This new project will draw together a team of researchers from the University’s arts and humanities departments to help community groups to explore and articulate their heritage for themselves, and to stimulate projects for Heritage Lottery Funding. Community groups will be encouraged to specify the kinds of research areas and methods where collaboration or help would be welcomed.
The Tolson Museum — kirklees.gov.uk/beta/museums-galleries-history/tolson-museum.aspx
The Tolson Museum holds important local collections of natural history, archaeology, objects, and material culture, as well as valuable sets of local photographs. Through its research work and its publications, the museum has made strong contributions to local history and archaeology and scientific subjects. The Kirklees Image Archive is based at the Tolson Memorial Museum. The Archive comprises over 250,000 digitised mainly black and white images stretching back to the late 19thcentury, including the photographic archive of the Huddersfield Daily Examiner. Public access to the images is available at four of the main Kirklees Libraries and over the internet, http://www.kirkleesimages.org.uk/index.php
West Yorkshire Archaeology Advisory Service — wyjs.org.uk/archaeology-advisory/
WYAAS holds and maintains information on all known archaeological sites and find-spots in West Yorkshire, including battlefields, historic parks and gardens and some conservation areas; information on historic buildings (including those of industrial archaeological interest); the principal oblique aerial photographic collection of archaeological sites in West Yorkshire; several hundred copies of historic maps; a collection of over 25,000 colour transparencies; a comprehensive reference library on archaeological material.
West Yorkshire Archive Service (WYAS): Kirklees — wyjs.org.uk/archives/
WYAS: Kirklees holds five main categories of records: official records (local government); family and estate records; business records; ecclesiastical records and other records (local societies and organisations).
These comprise records from Kirklees Metropolitan Council and its eleven predecessor authorities – the County Boroughs of Dewsbury and Huddersfield, the Boroughs of Batley and Spenborough, and the Urban Districts of Colne Valley, Denby Dale, Heckmondwike, Holmfirth, Kirkburton, Meltham and Mirfield. Records are also held of still earlier authorities such as Improvement Commissioners, Boards of Guardians and townships. There is a very brief history here of these varied local government bodies.
Family and Estate Records
Among the deposits of family and estate papers the most notable are those of the Ramsdens of Byram and Longley, Beaumonts of Whitley and Thornhills of Fixby. The Ramsden and Beaumont papers go back to around 1200.
The records in this class depict the wide range of business activity in the Kirklees area. The textile industry is represented by woollen, worsted and fancy cloth manufacturers in the Huddersfield area and shoddy, mungo and rag merchants in the Dewsbury and Batley area. Other records of firms include accountants, shovel makers, valve makers, shoemakers, land surveyors, auctioneers, maltsters, iron and lead works, wire rope manufacturers, theatres, tanners, the Huddersfield Canal Company and solicitors. A large collection of records of co-operative societies is held, including minutes of more than thirty local branches.
The parish registers for most of the churches within Kirklees and for other parishes in West Yorkshire are available on microfiche (or microfilm) but it is advisable to confirm holdings before a visit. Records are held of over 130 Nonconformist churches, with registers and Sunday school records.
A wide range of records relating to local societies, trade unions and bodies established for special purposes are held. These include minutes of Holmfirth flood relief fund 1852 and records of the National Union of Dyers, Bleachers and Textile Workers. There are also records of a number of Friendly Societies, Trades Councils and Chambers of Commerce. The musical heritage of the area is well represented and records include Huddersfield Choral Society, the Glee and Madrigal Society and a number of Feast Sings.
The Yorkshire Film Archive — yorkshirefilmarchive.com
The Yorkshire Film Archive holds over 16,000 items of film and video tape, datingfrom the earliest days of film making in the 1880s to the present day. While this resource covers the whole of Yorkshire and Humberside it includes some material relating to Kirklees. The Archive regularly acquires more footage.