Collections in the Local Studies libraries

Maps and plans

The collections include Ordnance Survey maps covering Bradford district and Yorkshire at various scales and dates from the first edition published in 1852 to the present. There are also extensive collections of local maps and plans covering everything from geology and business premises to electoral wards. Some of the highlights in Keighley Archives include tithe awards and enclosure maps as well as sale plans.

Local newspapers

Local newspapers at Bradford Local Studies library include the Bradford (later Yorkshire) Observer 1834-1956 and the Telegraph and Argus from 1868 to date. The collections include newspapers from Bingley, Ilkley and Shipley. Keighley Local Studies Library holds the Keighley News from 1862, the Keighley Herald 1873 – 1911 and the Keighley Chronicle 1905 – 1909 amongst others. Most are available on microfilm and both Local Studies centres hold comprehensive collections of news cuttings. Access to 19th Century Newspapers Online is also available covering a range of local and national newspapers for this period.

Journals and periodicals

The includes The Bradford Antiquary and the Yorkshire Archaeological Journal as well as many current titles. The extensive local collection at Keighley includes Brontë Society Transactions from 1898 and Yorkshire Dialect Society 1898 - 2000.

Official and administrative records

Bradford Council documents include Council minutes, statistics and reports since 1895. Electoral Registers from 1848 are available covering the area within the Borough and later the City of Bradford. As well as Keighley Township, Local Board and Borough records, the extensive collections at Keighley Local Studies library include many other related collections as well as early rural district council records for Haworth, Oakworth and Oxenhope and Poor Law records for the Keighley Union.

Illustrations and photographs

An extensive collection of photographs and Images of Bradford and district, its buildings and people is available. Keighley Local Studies also library holds a large historic photograph collection supplemented by albums from the Keighley and District Photographic Society.

Census enumerators’ returns

The Local Studies Library hold microfilm/fiche copies of 1841-1901 census for the area now covered by Bradford Council. Census street indexes and some name indexes are available. Access to all census returns for England and Wales 1841-1911 is available in all libraries in Bradford District via and

Births, marriages and deaths

The General Register Office Index can be searched in the Local Studies library. It is also available in all libraries within the Bradford district from 1837 via and

Parish and nonconformist register copies

The collections of Parish and Non-Conformist Register copies cover Bradford and Yorkshire. Some are available on microfilm and some as printed transcripts. The International Genealogical Index which indexes some church and chapel registers up to c 1880, can be viewed at and

Memorial inscriptions

These cover churchyards and burial grounds across the district and include many of the inscriptions by Arthur Blackburn.

Trade directories

Directories for people and businesses in Bradford and the West Riding are available from 1792. Some are available on microfilm. Bradford Telephone directories from 1935 are also available.

Special Collections in the Local Studies Libraries

Bradford and Keighley Local Studies libraries hold a number of special collections acquired and collected over many years.

Bradford Heritage Recording Unit: oral history collection

This is a unique oral history collection of summaries of recorded interviews with local people collected by the Recording Unit of Libraries and Museums during the 1980s. It is an invaluable source for recent local history. It includes transcripts and summaries of local people’s memories. Subject areas include textiles, health, war and immigration to Bradford.

Brigg collection

The Brigg family was amongst the most prominent and philanthropic families of the 19th and early 20th centuries in Keighley. The collection at Keighley Local Studies library covers the religious, political and economic aspects of the town’s development and dates back to the 16th century.

Brontë collection

Keighley Local Studies library holds one of the largest collections of study resources for the Brontë family in the area. It includes critical literature, biography, national and local journal articles and a collection of indexed news cuttings compiled by the library over the years.

Butterfield collection

Tom Clifton Butterfield (1856 – 1937) was principal of the Keighley School of Arts and Crafts between 1889 and 1919. Many students who trained under him went on to great success. Keighley Library holds some of the personal library of T.C and Miss Dorothy Butterfield.

Federer, Dickons and Empsall collections of 18th and 19th century Yorkshire publications

From the first opening of the Public Library in Bradford in 1872, a number of donations and purchases from private collectors were acquired.

George Antonine Federer (1837-1908) taught languages in Bradford, was an author of local history, dialect and Methodism and founder member of the Bradford Historical and Antiquarian Society. The collection has an estimated 8,000 items. Over half consist of pamphlets. 

James Norton Dickons (1837-1912) was a Bradford solicitor, historian and book collector of note.  Dickons focused mainly on archaeology and Bradford history in his collection. The collection includes many pamphlets, bound together in single volumes.

Thomas Thornton Empsall (1824 – 1896) was a Bradford Councillor and Borough Auditor. The focus of the collection is on institutional publications and topics of contemporary social concern.

You can access online indexes to the Dickons, Empsall and Federer Collections on our Bradford and District Local Studies Pages

Ian Dewhirst memorial collection

A special section of Keighley Library is dedicated to the library of former reference and local studies librarian and renowned local historian, the late Ian Dewhirst MBE.

Over his lifetime Ian Dewhirst collected a library of books, journals and a wide variety of material that comprises a unique collection of Keighley town and the local area.

The collection is made up of a special selection from Ian’s personal library on subjects including heritage, war, history, local military, social and industrial history.

Local authors

Collections by authors from the region with particular emphasis on Bradford include writers such as J B Priestley, John Braine and Malachi Whitaker.

The collection at Keighley Local Studies library includes a substantial collection of books and poetry by notable authors including Asa Briggs, Keighley Snowden, Austin Lee and William 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.

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.

Keighley Local Studies library holds a significant collection of the couple’s books and pamphlets, in the subjects of social, economic and political studies.

Newspaper cuttings

Bradford and Keighley Local Studies libraries have extensive collections of newspaper cuttings covering local current affairs, events and people of note. There are approximately 1,000 subject headings in Bradford alone covering all aspects of life in the district.

War records

Bradford Local Studies library collections include indexes of the local servicemen lost in the two World Wars. There are indexes to notices from the Bradford Weekly Telegraph and the Telegraph and Argus for World War One and Two respectively. The Keighley Archives include a large collection of correspondence and local and national material which supplements that of the Keighley War Hospital collections and the Keighley Roll of Honour as well as individual soldier collections, indexes and war memorial listings.

The Yorkshire collection

This includes books covering the history and development of the Yorkshire Region. 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.