The John Rylands Library is itself a testament to the wealth generated by the Lancashire cotton industry in the 19th century. The Library was founded by Mrs Enriqueta Augustina Rylands as a memorial to her husband John. He developed Rylands & Sons into the biggest cotton enterprise in Britain. When he died in 1888 he left a fortune of over £2.5m to his widow. The Library was designed by Basil Champneys and is one of the finest neo-Gothic buildings in Europe.
The John Rylands Library merged with Manchester University Library in 1972 to form the John Rylands University Library of Manchester (JRULM). The John Rylands Library on Deansgate, in the centre of Manchester, houses our special collections of rare books, manuscripts and archives. The Library is open to the general public either as visitors or readers, and holds regular exhibitions. New readers are asked to provide a letter of introduction and proof of address: please contact us for advice.
The Library holds one of the richest collections of archives relating to the cotton industry. As well as the archives of individual companies such as McConnel & Kennedy, Samuel Oldknow and Rylands & Sons, there are records of trades unions and employers' associations. These are supported by a wide range of printed and secondary sources.
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