Leodis is an online photographic archive containing over 59,000 images of Leeds, old and new and is managed by Leeds Library and Information Service.
The Local and Family History Library in Leeds has a huge collection of photographs relating to the city. Before the Leodis site was set up these were only accessible by visiting the library and searching card indexes. The Library service was keen to promote the collections and make them more easily accessible for a wider audience. The Council Internet team initially added some photographs to the Leeds City Council site to gauge demand. The high level of interest led to the creation of the Leodis site.
A grant was obtained from the New Opportunities Fund (now the Big Lottery) to fund the project for two years. The Library Service managed the project, which aimed to make available 40,000 images of Leeds. The main collections from the Local and Family History Library have been added to the site as well as local collections held in branch libraries such as Morley, Rawdon, Rothwell and Horsforth. Local partners, Leeds Civic Trust, the Thoresby Society, Leeds Museums and Galleries and West Yorkshire Archive Service have also provided material from their photographic collections to be added to the site. The largest collection of photographs on the site is the City Engineers collection. These were photographs taken for the City Council from around 1890 to the 1960s of areas of municipal concern such as pre slum clearance or road alterations. These were taken as working records for the engineers at the time but provide a great record of changes to the city. This collection of photographs has been physically split between Libraries and Archives but through Leodis the collection has now been digitally reunited.
As part of the funding the Discovering Leeds site was set up - a subsite of Leodis. This site aims to look at areas of historical interest in Leeds in greater depth. These topics have been researched in great detail and make available text, images and maps for project work or just general interest. Eight topics have been looked at through the funding these are Briggate, Industrial Leeds, Theatres, Markets, the Waterfront, Leeds Town Hall, Poverty and Riches and the Headrow. Leeds Music Department in co-operation with the Library service has produced a further topic, Leeds Classical Music. A bibliography is provided with each topic for further reading.
Leodis has also made available 5,500 playbills from the Library collections on the Leeds Playbills site. This offers users a unique view of theatre life in Leeds from 1781 to the 1990s. The collection includes playbills from all of Leeds’ historic theatres such as the City Varieties, The Grand, The Princess and The Theatre Royal. The site also contains some circus bills, such as those from Pablo Fanque’s Circus and the various circuses held on Boar Lane in the mid-nineteenth century.
Leodis was part of the 'Sense of Place' Yorkshire and Humberside consortium of NOF funded projects, which also include Wakefield Libraries and Information Services (Twixt Aire and Calder), North Yorkshire Libraries (Unnetie), and York Libraries (Imagine York).
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