The Leeds social history collections started with an emphasis on 'bygones' and folk life in the 1920s. Reconstructed street displays at Abbey House were then added in the 1950s.
Traditional strengths of the collections have been in the areas of childhood (toys and games), retailing history, domestic life, musical instruments, slot machines and automata and printed ephemera. This has resulted in a rich and wide-ranging collection of social history material (over 100,000 items).
What do we collect and why?
The emphasis for recent collecting has been material with strong local links to Leeds history and manufacture or association with Leeds people, communities and organisations, from the post-medieval period to the present day. We are particularly interested in objects with a story to tell about life in Leeds and the surrounding area.
The collection is still being added to through Contemporary Collecting projects linked to our exhibition programmes and projects.
Find out about some of our significant collections below!