Speed-dating our Library Treasures IV

Last Wednesday night saw the latest instalment of the Speed-date a Library Treasure event, this time taking place in the cosy upstairs room of Further North in Chapel Allerton.  Leeds Libraries staff brought along a number of treasures from the special collections and with 3 minutes between each bell they hurried to extol the virtues of each item to eager members of the public.

Making new connections that night were Sally with the Hints and Observations Relative to the Prevention of Contagious Fever, By R.W. Disney Thorpe, M.D. Physician to the Leeds Infirmary (Anno.1902). A small pamphlet of recommendations with the aim of establishing a ‘House of Recovery’ for people suffering from Contagious Fever (Small Pox) in Leeds in the late 1700s/early 1800s when poverty and unsanitary living conditions meant disease spread rapidly through communities.  While houses of recovery were proven to help reduce the number of fatalities from small pox, other suggestions leave a lot to be desired including the placing of the patient in the street while 4 gallons of freezing water is dumped over them.

Karen brought along a Collection of Literature from Leeds Savage Club, original artwork from members of the Savage Club, a group of artists, writers and musicians meeting at the turn of the century, and including some famous and influential names in the history of Leeds. The art was impressive in style though was clearly ‘of its time’ and today raised discussions around acceptability and cultural appropriation.

Lisa’s MSS on Witches and Witchcraft by Hick (pictured) included a handwritten manuscript and news cutting collection featuring accounts of witch trials, superstitions, folk traditions and sensational stories from across the world.

Will brought along two items from the Pudsey Library collection, two Waddys, also known as Nulla Nulla, Aboriginal Australian hunting clubs, and are part of the Marsden Collection of Pudsey Library. They were most likely brought over by Samuel Marsden in 1808, on one of his return visits to the UK.  Marsden also brought back Merino wool of such an outstanding quality that he has been credited with playing a large part in establishing Leeds in the wool trade.

Helen brought along a fairly recent donation to the Local History collection, the Victorian Catering Ledger used by Godfrey Wood, a confectioner and caterer. In it can be found the menus and food and drink provided for Leeds functions from the 1840s – 1870s. This includes the banquet enjoyed by Queen Victoria in 1858 when she visited Leeds to open the Town Hall.

This was a highlight of the evening along with The London Gazette brought by Rhian and used to show the story of notorious highwayman Dick Turpin, who fled London to hide in Yorkshire under an assumed name.  He was discovered when an old school master recognised his penmanship on a letter in a sorting office, and later identified as Turpin he was convicted of his crimes and executed in York.

Louise brought along an 1858 Circus bill from our Playbills collection, it declared ‘…Pablo is coming, with his world-famed Equestrian Wonders – a noble stud of highly trained horses and fairy ponies! The cleverest gymnasts, vaulters, rope-dancers, jugglers, tumblers, acrobats and best clowns in the world’. The entire Leeds Libraries Playbill collection can be viewed online at www.leodis.net/playbills.

Items from our special collections can be viewed on request at our Local & Family History and Information and Research departments, both on the 2nd floor of the Central Library – please contact us for further details or to arrange an appointment.

If you are interested in attending future Speed-dating a Library Treasure events, please email the Local and Family History department directly and we will add you to our mailing list: localandfamilyhistory@leeds.gov.uk.

Disclaimer – the speed date a library treasure events are all about showing off the parts of our collection that are usually kept behind locked doors.  It is not a regular speed dating event and we will not be trying to set you up with a romantic partner.

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