The Milner-White collection collection contains about 740 volumes, mainly first editions of English detective fiction published in the first half of the 20th century. All the well known authors of the 'Golden Age of Crime' are represented, including almost all of the crime novels of Agatha Christie, Dorothy L Sayers and Ngaio Marsh. However it also holds substantial collections of crime writers whose popularity has now waned such as Henry Christopher Bailey, Gladys Mitchell, Kathleen Freeman, Freeman Wills Crofts and Henry Wade.
The Very Reverend Eric Milner-White, Dean of York from 1941 until 1963, was a member of the University Promotion Committee, which was responsible for the original planning of the University of York. One of his many interests was book collecting, including detective fiction.
The collection was a gift to the Library after Milner-White's death in 1963. Books were subsequently added to the collection by donation.