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Linen Hall Library’s Heritage Women’s Project Receives £377,600 From The National Lottery Heritage Fund and Others

‘Women’s history needs to be told accurately and correctly and it needs to be celebrated, for the women that we were, the women that we’ve become because of those women, and the women that our children become because of the generation before.’*

The extraORDINARYwomen project is a major undertaking that will make tens of thousands of pages and images from a selection of the Library’s world-renowned archives accessible online for the very first time. The project will focus on the social experience of women in Northern Ireland from 1965 through the ‘Troubles’ and beyond, thanks to funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund Northern Ireland, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Reconciliation Fund (Ireland), and The Foyle Foundation.

The project will see approximately 50,000 pages and images of the Linen Hall Library’s most significant collections – including the Northern Ireland Political Collection, LGBTQ+ Archive, Literary Archives, Travellers’ Collection and the Theatre & Performing Arts Archive –digitised, conserved and shared to create a better understanding of the lives and experiences of our community’s extraORDINARYwomen.

An exciting activity programme will help to share this heritage with wider audiences through a series of exhibitions, workshops, living library and pop up events which will be delivered alongside the project.

By preserving and widening access to the Linen Hall Library’s collections, extraORDINARYwomen will fulfil the dual purpose of enriching understanding of Northern Irish culture, and the role of women within it, and holding the collections in trust for future generations.  It will honour the community’s shared heritage, build its confidence and open pathways to international collaboration.

Six new roles will be created to deliver the project, ranging from a project manager to archivists and outreach officers. Recruitment for these positions will begin in early 2020.

ExtraORDINARYwomen will be free at the point of access to local users and available via virtual membership for international users.

Northern Ireland Director of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Paul Mullan, says: “This project is hugely important to help us better understand the lived experiences of local women from our recent past who dealt with violence from the Troubles and the shifting roles and attitudes to women over the decades.  We are delighted to be involved in helping to raise awareness of this lesser known social heritage and to conserve the significant collections held by the Linen Hall Library for future generations.”

Linen Hall Library Director Julie Andrews, says: “extraORDINARYwomen marks an unprecedented opportunity to give Northern Irish women who lived through an extremely dark chapter in our history a voice. These are mothers, sisters, wives and daughters who have a unique perspective on events that have shaped Northern Ireland’s modern history. We are grateful to the funding bodies that have made this project a reality.”

extraORDINARYwomen received a first-round pass by The National Lottery Heritage Fund Northern Ireland in 2018 which supported the development phase of the project. This phase was also supported by a grant from the Department for Trade and Foreign Affairs Reconciliation Fund (Ireland). Having successfully passed the development phase, the Linen Hall will now proceed to the delivery phase which will be completed in 2021.

*comment from a participant in one of the extraORDINARYwomen development phase focus groups.

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Notes to editors:

Department for Trade and Foreign Affairs Reconciliation Fund (Ireland):
The Reconciliation Fund is operated by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. It awards grants to organisations working to build better relations within and between traditions in Northern Ireland, between North and South, and between Ireland and Britain. https://www.dfa.ie/reconciliation

The Foyle Foundation:
The Foyle Foundation is an independent grant-making trust that distributes grants to UK charities. http://www.foylefoundation.org.uk/

The Linen Hall Library:
The Linen Hall Library is situated in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It is the city’s oldest library (1788) and the only remaining library in Ireland that raises some of its running costs from membership. The Library is free to enter and holds several world-renowned collections. It is housed in a listed Victorian building that was originally built as a linen warehouse. https://linenhall.com/

The National Lottery Heritage Fund Northern Ireland:
The National Lottery Heritage Fund is the largest dedicated funder of heritage in the UK. https://www.heritagefund.org.uk/in-your-area/northern-ireland

For more information about extraORDINARYwomen please contact Rachel Wetherall, Linen Hall Library Head of Digital and Marketing Communications, on r.wetherall@linenhall.com tel: +44 28 9032 1707.

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