Linen Hall Library, Belfast

Major New Digital Archive – Launching January 2018

The Linen Hall Library, Belfast, Northern Ireland.

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Since 1968 the Linen Hall Library has been collecting material relating to the conflict in Northern Ireland. Over the years the Library has become the repository for a vast amount of material relating to the subject and the subsequent Peace Process. The collection now consists of over 350,000 items including books, pamphlets, leaflets, posters, manifestos, press releases, newspapers, objects and many thousands of periodicals. It is a completely unique collection that is unrivalled throughout the world.

Much of this material is currently being digitised and catalogued for the ‘Divided Society’ digital archive.

The archive will include:

  • Hundreds of rare periodical titles, comprising thousands of individual issues, published between 1990 – 1998 and focused on the conflict and peace process
  • Hundreds of political posters
  • A video gallery with clips from UK and Irish broadcasters
  • An audio gallery with interviews with people involved in the conflict
  • Curated content focused on 24 key themes
  • Ten exclusive essays focused on themes from leading academics
  • Educational toolkits for students
  • Fully searchable full-text articles with Dublin Core metadata
  • Introduction by Senator George Mitchell, Chair of the Peace Process Talks

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The Divided Society project sees a significant section of the Collection digitised and made available online. This includes hundreds of periodical titles, comprising hundreds of issues and thousands of distinct articles. These publications were published between 1990–1998 in the UK, Ireland and further afield, and documented the issues that affected Northern Ireland during that period.

This was a vastly significant time in Northern Ireland’s history. Events such as the Downing Street Agreement, several ceasefires, and the ongoing peace negotiations which culminated in the signing of the Good Friday Agreement are documented. When introducing the Divided Society project Senator George Mitchell, former United States Special Envoy for Northern Ireland, said

The peace talks were a long and difficult process and this archive provides its users with a sense of the atmosphere of the time, the issues affecting daily life, how they were debated, and the various attempts at a resolution.

The publications represent a variety of perspectives including community groups, political parties, pressure groups, local and national government, and paramilitaries. Further content includes hundreds of political posters, a video and audio gallery, and exclusive essays specifically written by academics for the Divided Society project.

As part of the project, interviews were conducted with members of the public with stories and recollections about the conflict. Community groups from throughout Northern Ireland discussed these issues alongside students from schools, colleges and Universities. Many of these stories are available to listen to as part of the audio gallery or read as transcripts. This revealing oral history archive captures people from all walks of life recounting their memories of difficult, sad, and sometimes humorous times.

The resource also includes six downloadable toolkits to assist students and educate more general users. These focus on: the Downing Street Declaration, the Ceasefires, President Clinton’s Visit, the Referendum, the Agreement, and the First Day of Power-Sharing. A video gallery includes news-reports from the 1990s concerning some of these key events. The clips originate from the UTV and RTE.

The project was funded by Heritage Lottery Fund, Ulster Garden Villages, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

MuralDivided Society will be available for free in the UK & Ireland at www.dividedsociety.org and available via subscription globally. The site will have full text content, dependable metadata, and over 100,000 pages fully searchable in a variety of ways. It supports research for Irish and UK Politics, Peace and Reconciliation Studies, Post-Conflict Studies, Terrorism, Journalism, and more. This unique collection will provide an unbiased, unrivalled account of the Peace Process in Northern Ireland.

From January 2018 the resource will be available for free in the UK & Ireland and by subscription to the rest of the world. Their source will be extremely valuable to individuals interested in Irish and British history, terrorism, post-conflict studies, and peace and reconciliation. It also gives unique exposure to a historically significant period in Northern Ireland. For more information you can now visit the landing page at www.dividedsociety.org. Alternatively, if you would like to speak to someone about the resource contact:

Terence McKernan
Sales & Marketing Officer
Linen Hall Library
17 Donegall Square North
BELFAST  BT1 5GB
t.mckernan@linenhall.com

The Linen Hall Library is one of Northern Ireland’s most popular tourist destinations. Best of all, there’s no entry fee! With world renowned collections, coffee and gift shop, tours and a fabulous programme of cultural events – it’s an experience you won’t forget! We’re a charity, so please feel free to donate to continue our great work! www.linenhall.com

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