The Joseph Wood Archive

The Joseph Wood Archive consists of one hundred Large and Small Notebooks written by Quietist Quaker Joseph Wood between 1767 and 1821, together with 647 retained letters and a selection of miscellaneous printed Quaker papers. These Notebooks contain Joseph Wood’s record of his life, his faith as a Quaker and his labours as a Minister of the Gospel. (During his lifetime the Large Notebooks were also known as Long Books. See Large Notebook 33). Wood wrote extensively, and from the nature of the surviving Notebooks, it appears likely that these represent only part of the writings related to his ministry. Carefully kept first by Joseph Wood and then by subsequent members of the family over six generations, this material has been preserved as a private collection.

The archive has been deposited in The Special Collections, Brotherton Library, the University, Leeds for accessibility and safekeeping.

Quite apart from the significance of their contents, the Notebooks are examples of handmade books and are of interest for the papers used, for the method of their construction and for the evidence they provide about the development of writing implements. Ninety of them have covers made from different contemporary wallpapers, decorative papers and pen drawings.

The unedited memoranda, letters and accounts of journeys undertaken and Meetings attended provide hitherto virtually unknown primary source material for those undertaking Quaker and late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century studies.

Since Joseph Wood recorded the names of the people he knew, both Quaker and non-Quaker, and of those he met during his travels, his writings are also a new resource for those with an interest in Quaker family history and the history of Meeting Houses. The publication of Joseph Wood (1750-1821) A Yorkshire Quaker People and Places noted in the Large and Small Notebooks 1773-1821 (Riley Dunn and Wilson 2012) provides a useful research tool for such investigations.


The Joseph Wood Archive is accessible via five volumes of notebooks in PDF format:

Wallpapers as Notebook covers – a new and significant archive of George III wallpapers

The covers of all the Large Notebooks and forty-three of the Small Notebooks are made from variously coloured and patterned decorative papers and wallpapers. Of the Small Notebooks, eight covers have pen drawing illustrations depicting scenes, people or children’s games. Twelve are covered with plain brown paper.

The three categories into which the papers fall are paste and marble papers, contemporary prints and decorative papers. It is known that past papers and marbled papers were both commonly used as soft backed book covers at the time when Wood was writing. It would appear, however, that many of the other papers were not originally intended as book covers. A number of the contemporary prints are not centred on the covers and other examples show that the pattern is too large a scale to have been designed specifically as book covers. During the period when the Notebooks were covered, wallpapers were printed on rolls of paper made from hand-made sheets glued together. The covers of many of the Notebooks show evidence of these joins.

It would appear that the majority of the covers were made from contemporary wallpapers remnants

There are many areas requiring further investigation relating to these decorative papers and wallpapers, including, the nature of the papers and the differing patterns and designs; the dates when the papers were produced; the identification of the paper-stainers or wallpaper manufacturers and the suppliers from whom Wood bought the Notebooks.

The Notebook Covers

Please click on the links below to see examples of the covers of the original notebooks:


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