It fills more than a third of a mile of library shelves and includes key historical documents such as the Battle of Waterloo surrender papers and a record of Dick Turpin’s execution.
And for insight into the lives of more ordinary people there is even a 16th century cookbook with ‘an excellent recipe to get a good husband’ – including two ounces of the fear of God, two ounces of consideration and ‘of Estate as much as you can get’.
These unique records are part of a huge collection of manuscripts, archives and books relating to Yorkshire’s history which now have a new home at the University of Leeds and will be available for the public to view.
The Yorkshire Archaeological and Historical Society (YAHS) Collection is probably the largest single resource for research on Yorkshire’s past outside the British Library and has been entrusted to the university on long-term loan.
Gathered over 150 years, it has 45,000-plus works, including items from as far back as the 12th century.
Other highlights include letters patent of Queen Elizabeth I with a delicately drawn portrait and her seal still attached by silver cords, Wakefield Court Rolls, which provide records of society and industry in the West Riding from 1274 to 1925, and major family and estate documents.
Joanne Fitton, head of the university’s special collections, said: “The Special Collections reading room is open to all members of the public and the resources of the YAHS will encourage more people to visit our service for the first time.”