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 historic 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 members with an interest in local history, and its collections and lectures are open to the public.

You will find more about the Society’s library, activities, and publications, as well as background information on Leeds history, by exploring the topics listed on the left.


From May 14 the Leeds Library will be open to Thoresby Society members. To gain admittance ring the bell and say you are a Thoresby Society member.

The cataloguing of our library is not yet complete, but from May 14 members will be able to borrow all our borrowable books that are already on the on-line catalogue. (Books more than 100 years old are for reference only.)

If you wish to borrow a book which does not yet appear in the catalogue, please send an email to We can then arrange for the book to be added to the catalogue, and then it can be borrowed. This should only take a few days.

As at Claremont, to gain access to our archives, maps and images, you will need to make an appointment by sending an email to

The normal opening hours of the Leeds Library are:

Monday, Wednesday, Friday 9am-5pm;
Tuesday 9am -6pm
Thursday 9am - 7pm
Saturday 9.30am-1pm

Please check their website for changes to these times, for example, on Bank Holidays



The Thoresby Society circulates a monthly e-Newsletter to members who wish to receive it. This includes information about the Society's activities, and other events, exhibitions and new books of interest to members. 

Any member who does not yet receive this e-Newsletter and who wishes to receive should send a message to the  

The e-newsletter for a given month is normally circulated in the last week of the previous month. 

Any person or organisation who wishes to have information circulated in the e-Newsletter, should send it to no later than the 25th of the preceding month.


The Thoresby Society is a member of the Centre for Heritage Research based at Leeds University