Untangling the Holdens

The papers of Isaac Holden and his family form one of the most rich, exciting archives in Special Collections.  Sir Isaac was a Bradford wool manufacturer who pioneered new woolcombing techniques, established factories in France, and later became an M.P.  The papers consist mainly of letters between Sir Isaac and family members.  They are full of detail about social and cultural life, religion, travel, industry, politics … Bradford and Keighley (the Holdens lived at Oakworth House) are covered, as is France and even New Zealand.  However, this detail has not yet been captured and therefore the collections are not reaching their full potential.

Letterhead used by Sir Isaac Holden, Oakworth House, KeighleyWe have a basic list which is accurate as far as it goes, but it was created long before the material came to Special Collections.  It does not record many aspects that interest readers now.  Hence our new project, Untangling the Holdens, in which we will record and make available the names, places and themes covered in the letters.  This will help bring them to new audiences and develop exciting projects.

The library’s two graduate trainees (Jen Fox and Maria O’Hara) are working on the material during their time in Special Collections this summer.  This is giving them excellent experience in handling and interpreting historic material.  Once the trainees have completed their time with us, we will have more idea how long the work will take and can then consider options for continuing.  I will be posting about what we have discovered and how the project will continue, watch this space!


2 responses to “Untangling the Holdens

  1. Name (required)Eve

    I am interested in untangling the Holdens..My ancester is George Holden, (younger brother of Sir Isaac) who was financed out to N.Z. along with his children and grandchildren by Sir Isaac. They arrived in 1879 aboard the “Inglewood” and set up home and developed land purchased by Sir Isaac at Te Aroha in 1860. Some of the letters in your archives are from this branch of the family. I am interested to know what happened to these parcels of land after the death of Sir Isaac and if my family continued to live and work them. I would like to know if the N.Z. land holdings are mentioned in his will.

    • Barbara Smith maiden name Holden

      My name is Barbara Holden, both my father and grandfather said that they believed we are direct decendants of an iillegitimate son of Sir Isaac’s by a woman called Sarah. They were intelligent, principled people and the son was called John. He lived with [parents Sarah and John Foster] in Cheshire BUT called himself John Holden and married as a Holden. Is there anything in your family ‘fokelore’ that suggests there was an illegitimate son ? My father and grandfather were extraordinary men and I would like to prove this link if I can, any information would be very welcome as I am trying to complete my family tree.

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