fonds WKS - William Kaye Sessions Archive

Identity area

Reference code



William Kaye Sessions Archive


  • 1901-2010 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

0.05 cubic metres

3 boxes

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

William Kaye Sessions was born in York in 1915, the son of William Haughton Sessions, a letter press printer, and his wife Edith Mary Kaye. The family ran the printing firm Sessions of York, purchased by William Sessions, a Quaker grocer, in 1865.

Educated at Bootham School and then at Cambridge University, William Kaye, also known as Bill, joined the family firm in 1938, eventually succeeding his father as Managing Director. During the Second World War he worked for the Friends War Victims Relief Service, later renamed the Friends Relief Service, a Quaker organisation established to relieve civilian distress in times of war.

In 1946 he was commissioned by the Nuffield Foundation to write a report on York almshouses and charities, as part of a broader survey of poverty in old age in the UK, chaired by Benjamin Seebohm Rowntree. The results of the survey were published the following year as ‘Old people: report of a survey committee on the problems of ageing and the care of old people.’

A prominent York resident, William was invited by Seebohm to become a trustee of the Joseph Rowntree Village Trust, now the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, in 1947 and he remained on the board for the next 43 years. He was also a member of the Company of Merchant Adventurers of the City of York, York Civic Trust and York Archaeological Society. In 1965 he was President of the British Printing Industries Federation.

A keen naturalist, he was chairman of the New Earswick Nature Reserve for more than four decades and founded the River Foss Amenity Society, now the River Foss Society, in 1973, to improve the footpaths and amenities of the river ‘for the benefit of naturalists, fisherman, ramblers and local residents.’

William Kaye Sessions died on 20 May 2013, aged 97.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

The archive was deposited at the Borthwick Institute in 2011 by the Sessions Book Trust.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Questionnaires, research notes, letters, press cuttings, reports and other papers relating to charities in York, 1901-2010, including a copy of the 'York Charities Enquiry', 1911, material concerning the 1946 report commissioned by the Nuffield Foundation and written by William Kaye Sessions, and the report and evidence submitted to the 1950 Nathan Enquiry by William Kaye Sessions and Lewis E. Waddilove; ‘Records of the York Cordwainers Company from circa 1395' by E. C. Margetts, 1983; ‘Dame Sarah’s Legacy. A History of The Lady Hewley Trust’ by Richard Potts, 2005; ‘The Almshouses of York’ by Carole Smith, 2010.


Further accruals are not expected.

System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Records are open to the public, subject to the overriding provisions of relevant legislation, including data protection laws. 24 hours' notice is required to access photographic material.

Conditions governing reproduction

A reprographics service is available to researchers subject to the access restrictions outlined above. Copying will not be undertaken if there is any risk of damage to the document. Copies are supplied in accordance with the Borthwick Institute for Archives' terms and conditions for the supply of copies, and under provisions of any relevant copyright legislation. Permission to reproduce images of documents in the custody of the Borthwick Institute must be sought.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

The archive has not yet been catalogued.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

The archive of Sessions of York, printers, is also deposited at the Borthwick Institute.

Related descriptions

Notes area

Alternative identifier(s)

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Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier


Rules and/or conventions used

ISAD (G): General International Standard Archival Description, International Council on Archives (2nd edition, 2000); Rules for the construction of personal, place and corporate names, National Council on Archives (1997).

Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

Created by S. A. Shearn, 07.10.16.




Accession area