The special local history collection at the Central Reference Library in Halifax is named after Joseph Horsfall Turner, a noted antiquarian of the Victorian and Edwardian periods.
Turner was born at Granny Hall in Brighouse on 10 April 1845, and in adult life became a schoolteacher, opening the Albert Academy – and also the YMCA – in Brighouse in 1870. In 1873 he took up an appointment at Idle, near Bradford, and lived there for the rest of his life.
Turner’s prolific research interests made him an equally industrious writer and editor. Over a hundred titles, relevant to his antiquarian and naturalist interests can be found in Calderdale Libraries. This represents only a fraction of his total oeuvre, which included frequent contributions to local newspapers and periodicals. He also took it upon himself to reprint a number of scarce local works – very much a labour of love, as it involved considerable financial loss to himself.
To cope with and circulate increasing amounts of correspondence on his favoured topics, he founded the quarterly periodicals Yorkshire Notes and Queries, Yorkshire Folk-Lore Journal, Yorkshire Bibliographer, Yorkshire Genealogist and Yorkshire County Magazine.
A Pen-Portrait of Turner in Yorkshire Notes and Queries 1905 remarked that “It may fairly be claimed for Mr Turner that there is not a nook or corner in the whole county of Yorkshire possessing any antiquarian interest, but what he has some knowledge of…"
Joseph Horsfall Turner died on 2 May 1915, in Idle. Part of his collection of books was acquired by Halifax Corporation for the sum of £50, and formed the basis of the Horsfall Turner Collection that has been maintained and augmented to this day.
For a list of his material kept in Calderdale Libraries, enter Horsfall Turner as a 'quick search' term in the Online library catalogue
If you are a Calderdale library member, or using a Calderdale library, why not find out about other historical figures, by searching the online Oxford Dictionary of National Biography .
Simply enter a person's name or a place in the search box. (Note that a search for Halifax is best expressed as Halifax, Yorkshire.) If the 'Library Card Login' box appears, simply enter the word calderdale, followed by your library card number.