National Adult Schools Union (West Yorkshire) Archive

Scope and Content

In this collection you will find mainly minutes of meetings from the various Adult Schools in West Yorkshire, such as Huddersfield, Lindley, Paddock, Halifax, Marsden, Women's unions and Teachers unions. Also, there are 302 class registers which are thought to all be from the Brighouse Friends First-Day classes (This is written on some, but not all). It is safe to assume this because there are various notes in the minute books and a note with the class registers explaining that they are sending the resources to David Hool, a research assistant to Arnold Hall's Adult School Project, so it likely that all of the registers were sent from the same place. There are various other items in the collection such as books about the history of Adult Schools, including Arnold Hall's book. Also, some miscellaneous letters and leaflets are in the collection too.

Administrative / Biographical History

The first Adult School was founded in Nottingham in 1798 by William Singleton and Samuel Fox, with the objective of teaching working class people to read and write. The main way to teach was through reading the Bible and then writing from dictation or copies. Over time, other classes were introduced to the 'syllabus' including arithmetic, geography and grammar. A leaflet issued by the Adult School describes it as a 'Fellowship of men (or women) formed for the purpose of mutual helpfulness… and to practise the teaching of Jesus Christ… it is a free, reverent and practical study of the Bible'. By the end of the 19th Century Adult Schools were very popular and were attended by Adults and Children alike, there is thought to have been at least 350 schools with 45,000 participants at this time. However, in the second half of the 20th Century membership began to decline, the reasons were clear to some - the Second World War. However, another clear reason is because the schools' retained an emphasis on studying the Bible and it did not fit in with the changing times, so it did not appeal to the wider population. By 1970, there were only 2000 members.


Rowntree J. W. & Binns, H.B., A History of the Adult School Movement, (Department of Adult Education, University of Nottingham, 1903)

Smith, M. K. (2004) 'Adult schools and the making of adult education', the encyclopaedia of informal education,

NASO,, National Adult Schools Organisation website, (2003/2004)

A leaflet found the Halifax and District Adult School minute book


Arranged into series: Minute books, class registers and miscellaneous items such as loose notes, leaflets, annual reports and books

Access Information

Original available for consultation by appointment. Personal data subject to Data Protection Act 1998. Access permitted to data subjects and to bona fide researchers who complete a Data Protection Undertaking form.

Acquisition Information


2 Annual Reports in envelope; sender - Sydney Bell, Paddock, Huddersfield (February 1969)

Conditions Governing Use

No restrictions other than Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988.

Appraisal Information

Destroyed duplicates when necessary and destroyed one envelope but noted the address.

Custodial History

Appears to have been collated as part of "Adult Schools Project" at the University of Newcastle (see NASU/09).