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Printing and pacifism - the Sessions Book Trust collection

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Matt Wigzell explores some of the highlights in the Sessions Book Trust collection,now available as part of the University Library’s Special Collections.


Comprising of over 2,000 items, the Sessions Book Trust collection contains examples of nearly all the books printed by the local printing and publishing company Sessions of York. The material in the collection particularly covers local history, pacifism, the history of printing, and books relating to the Society of Friends, as well as having items printed for local authors and businesses.

The firm was originally founded in 1811 by William Alexander, who opened a bookshop in Castlegate. Included in the collection are many books printed and sold by Alexander. Among these are several catalogues containing the books, maps, prints, games and other varied items for sale in his shop. They are a fascinating insight into the activities of a bookseller and literary taste nearly 200 years ago.

Being a devout Quaker, many of the books directly …