Collaborative Research

For us research can be defined as any way in which people use our collections, library or archive to develop new ideas, new understanding or new perspectives about the world we share.

We co-cureate our collections and exhibitions with diverse audiences to ensure that the museum’s programmes include and represent the diverse cultures all around us and the breadth of the history of medicine. We aim to reflect current issues in health and developments in medicine by working closely with public health, social prescribing, medical and academic colleagues.

We welcome the opportunity to share our expertise and make the Thackray Museum’s extensive collections of medical objects and literature available to all. We would love to hear from you with you’d like to partner with us, as an individual, group or institution, to engage in academic, action led, or community led research.

You can read our research strategy here: TMM Research Strategy 2021

Please contact [email protected] if you’d like to make an enquiry.

Medical Literature

Surgical Literature

The Museum library includes a large collection of historical textbooks that illustrate equipment and techniques from the 1500s to the present day.

The 15,000-volume collection also contains pharmacopoeias, histories of medical institutions and organisations, biographies, local and trade directories, and general books covering most aspects of the history of medicine.

Commercial Literature

The Museum’s commercial literature collection contains items relating to all aspects of the international medical supply industry. For example, ‘quack’ or fringe medicine, pharmacy and surgical instrument manufacturers.

Items range from single sheet flyers and advertising material to 2,000 page catalogues and date from the 1700s to the present day. This collection is unique in its size and breadth of coverage.


We have a growing archive relating to the healthcare industry and people who worked it in. It includes material from the Thackray Medical Supply Company and other medical supply firms, as well as a collection of pre-NHS pharmacy prescription books dating to the 1800s. We have a range of materials, including certificates, lecture notes books, and images from medical professionals, and a small but interesting collection of photographs that illustrate public health problems in Leeds between 1930 and 1970.

Workhouse Stories

The Museum is located in the former Leeds Union Workhouse, with the records relating to that period being predominantly held at the West Yorkshire Archive Service. They will be able to help you with any enquiries relating to the workhouse and census records.

If you’re interested in the workhouse and would like to read about some of the people who stayed or worked in the building, go to our workhouse page to find out more.


At the Thackray Museum of Medicine the strengths of our collection predominantly cover surgery and medicine in the 19th and 20th centuries, although our collections go back to Roman times.

To view our collections please visit our collections online. It is also possible to view some of our objects on site for research purposes. Please contact the collections team at [email protected] to submit a request.