fonds WM - Records of the Wilberforce Memorial

Identity area

Reference code



Records of the Wilberforce Memorial


  • 1833-1996 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

1.7 cubic metres

71 boxes plus oversize volumes

Context area

Name of creator


Administrative history

The Wilberforce Memorial was founded in 1833 following the death of Yorkshire MP and noted reformer William Wilberforce. At a meeting held in that same year the decision was taken to establish a benevolent institution for the indigent blind in his name, with funds raised by public donation and subscription.

As a result, the Yorkshire School for the Blind, also known at the Wilberforce School for the Blind, was opened in King's Manor, York, in 1835. In 1969 this was replaced by The Wilberforce Home for the Multiple Handicapped Blind at Dringthorpe.

The Wilberforce Memorial was managed by its governors, who originally consisted of all donors and annual subscribers paying over a certain amount. They met annually and elected the managing committee who were responsible for the day to day administration of the Yorkshire School for the Blind, and later the Wilberforce Home.

The managing committee consisted of the president of the Wilberforce Memorial, vice-presidents, and at least fifteen of its governors, and had the power to elect a chairman, honorary secretary, honorary treasurer and trustees.

Today the Wilberforce Memorial is known as The Wilberforce Trust. It continues to offer support, training and care services for people with sight loss, and provides supported accommodation in York and Tadcaster.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

The archive was deposited at the Borthwick Institute by the governors of the Wilberforce Memorial in 1998.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Material relating primarily to the establishment, funding and administration of Yorkshire School for the Blind, including minutes of governors’ meetings, managing committee meetings, and minutes of subcommittee meetings for salaries, workshops, education, archaeology, welfare and finance, 1833-1996; agendas for managing committee meetings, includes newspaper cuttings and details of proposed industrial home for women in Scarborough, 1873-1893; annual reports of the managing committee and school superintendent, 1837-1990; correspondence and papers of the treasurer, 1833-1994, including general accounts, 1892-1981, residents’ accounts, 1972-1988, papers relating to maintenance fees, 1969-1994, workshops and sales, 1892-1994, salaries and wages, 1972-1992, and legacies and donations, 1833-1994; correspondence and papers of the secretary, 1900-1994, including press cuttings, 1840-1957, papers relating to conferences, 1873-1952, and historical and commemorative material relating to the school and King’s Manor, 1833-1980; correspondence and papers of the school superintendent, including log book, 1869-1872, and notebooks and papers of superintendent A. Buckle, 1882-1899; school surgeon’s report book, 1877-1911; visitor’s report books, 1836-1979; daily signing in books, 1963-1995; pupil records, including admission forms, 1887-1896, and registers, 1861-1883; photographs and slides of the school, staff, and pupils, 19th century-20th century; school library, consisting of reports, texts, periodicals and books primarily concerned with the education of the blind, 1809-1966; material relating to the Wilberforce Home for the Multiple-Handicapped Blind, including estate papers, 1960-1994, lists of staff, 1873-1993, staff diaries, 1979-1994, and related correspondence and papers, 1967-1994, residents daily report books, 1980-1995, and photographs and slides, c.1965-c.1991; residents' equipment and Braille and raised Roman reading material for the Yorkshire School for the Blind and the Wilberforce Home for the Multiple-Handicapped Blind, 1836-1995.


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
  • French
  • German

Script of material

Language and script notes

In Latin and Braille scripts.

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

A typescript finding aid, to file level, is available for consultation in the searchroom of the Borthwick Institute. This has also been published as 'The Archive of the Wilberforce Memorial at the Borthwick Institute of Historical Research' by Kate Mason (York, 2000). Copies may be purchased through the Borthwick Institute website.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Further records concerning Yorkshire School for the Blind, including annual reports, 1947-1955; correspondence files, 1950s; and other legal and financial papers, 20th century, can be found in the Records of Munby & Scott, solicitors of York, at the Borthwick Institute.

Annual reports, 1898-1947, and a volume reporting the centenary of the school are held by York Explore (Reference: YSB). A minute book which includes a record of the joint meeting between Henshaw's Society for the Blind and the Yorkshire School for the Blind in 1956 concerning the transfer of the remaining students at York to Manchester is held by the University of Manchester Library. It is part of the collection, 'Records of Henshaw's Society for the Blind.'

Publication note

Kate Mason, 'The Archive of the Wilberforce Memorial at the Borthwick Institute of Historical Research' (York, 2000).

Notes area

Alternative identifier(s)

Access points

Genre access points

Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

GB 193

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, 03.06.15.




Accession area