This collection of printed and photographic material was built up by Sixsmith over a long period. In addition to a series of photographic prints, it includes periodicals, cuttings from periodicals and newspapers (principally British and American), offprints, pamphlets, flyers, and posters. The largest subdivision of material relates to Carpenter; Sixsmith appears to have collected anything he came across in relation to his friend. There is also a substantial amount of printed matter relating to Whitman. Notable material includes: a range of Carpenter's own writings (articles, poems, and short stories) often as they appeared in their first published form in magazines and periodicals; reviews of some of Carpenter's major works; general and critical articles on Carpenter's life and work; similar articles on Whitman; and reviews of all the major studies and biographies of Whitman written up to the 1950s. Other Whitman- and Carpenter-related material covers such topics as book and manuscript sales, commemorative events, exhibitions, and organisations set up to promote and celebrate their work (including, in Whitman's case, some papers relating to the Bolton Whitman Fellowship), and brief references to both writers in apparently unrelated contexts.
In addition to his Whitman and Carpenter collections, Sixsmith obviously kept cuttings on any other topics in which he had an interest. Items in this collection embrace areas such as socialism, local issues, Carpenter's work as a councillor, conservation and the countryside, religion and alternative beliefs, and articles on his friends, acquaintances and other figures he admired.
The photographs in the collection consist predominantly of prints of Whitman and Carpenter, along with four prints of Bolton College members, and a number depicting friends of Whitman from America, such as Horace Traubel. The Carpenter photographs span more than 50 years and a number of them are inscribed by Carpenter himself.
The collection as a whole has obvious value for both Whitman and Carpenter studies; in particular it documents early responses, critical reception and general popularity of both authors, and it is significant in bringing together many short works by Carpenter in their first or only published form. The collection contains numerous periodicals which were retained by Sixsmith on the strength of one article relating to Whitman or Carpenter, but many of these also have a wider interest. Some of the main areas covered include: socialism and the Labour movement; the Labour Church movement in Yorkshire and Lancashire; anarchism and communism; British politics; humanitarianism; attitudes towards sexuality and homosexuality; alternative religion; vegetarianism and animal rights.