Who do you think they were?

The Leech family archive is one of the most remarkable collections at Chetham’s Library, and through the use of diaries, photographs and personal ephemera, the exhibition chronicles the story of a middle-class Manchester family over two hundred years.

In recent years, members of the Leech family of Manchester and Ashton-under-Lyne have presented the Library with a large and diverse collection of personal and business memorabilia stretching over two centuries. The family papers comprise many hundreds of letters, business and household accounts, cashbooks, photographs and sketches, as well as an enormous amount of carefully hoarded ephemera, juvenalia, genealogical research, travel documents, souvenirs and postcards.

This extraordinary family kept diaries throughout their lives and the collection numbers over two hundred bound volumes. Included in the exhibition are an eyewitness account of the days leading up to Peterloo, over five hundred love letters written during WW1, photographs and letters of Iris Murdoch and a clutch of diaries written whilst working at Bletchley Park, as well as a first-hand account of the WW2 Blitz in December 1940. The archive offers unique insights into life in Manchester in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.


This blog was originally posted in 2010 for an exhibition entitled, ‘Who do you think they were? The story of a Manchester family’.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *