Who was William Houghton?

The Leeds team would like to say a massive thank you to Joshua Parker who has been here on work experience from Leeds City College for the past two weeks. Josh has helped answer some enquiries and assisted with behind the scenes activities as we retrieved documents from our stores.  However, his main task for the placement was to answer the question – who was William Houghton?


A selection of William Houghton’s extensive diaries (reference WYL1267/1/1-64)


Since 1985 we’ve looked after a collection of 64 diaries and several bundles of letters written by William but we didn’t know much about the man himself. The son of Richard Booth Houghton, he was born on the 25th May 1900 and after being educated at Hunslet Carr School and Cockburn High School went on to be employed by Leeds Education Committee until 1918.  After the First World War William went back to the Education Committee before moving on the Health Service at St James’s Hospital until 1960.

We asked Joshua to read through the diaries and letters and get a feel for what William was like. Josh writes “William Houghton’s collection is a wonderful way of seeing the effects of both he First and Second World Wars on a local man.  He remarks that his one regret is that he was too young to reach the front before the 11th November 1918. William enjoyed writing from a young age and kept a diary from 1919 until 1982 when he became too ill to continue.  His diaries follow the same pattern each day, listing the weather first and then his daily activities and they show his reactions to key historical events such as the moon landings (shown in the image below) and the bombing of Nagasaki.”


William’s diary entry from 19th July 1969. “Apollo 11’s lunar module landing on the moon. An amazing and wonderful sight.  Astronaut Armstrong and Aldrin will rest & climb out & walk on the moon about 2am tomorrow!”


If you would like more information on William Houghton’s collection please contact the Leeds team at leeds@wyjs.org.uk (collection reference WYL1267).


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