Today, Thursday 1 September, First Minister Arlene Foster launched the Divided Society digitisation project at the Linen Hall Library. Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Ulster Garden Villages and the Department of Foreign Affairs Peace and Reconciliation Fund, the project will see the digitisation of periodicals and posters from the Troubles and Peace Process concentrating on the decade from 1990 – 2000.
The phenomenal Northern Ireland Political Collection (NIPC), which began in 1968, now numbers around 350,000 items. It is the only archive of material of its kind in the world relating to the Northern Ireland conflict and Peace Process. It is also unique in its collection during armed conflict as opposed to retrospective collection. Digitisation is the next step in making the material accessible to as large an audience as possible.
From obscure, home-produced pamphlets, to official government documents, these are the publications that informed the conflict. The broadest cross-section of Northern Irish society is represented including political parties, community groups, pressure groups, the police, the army, local, regional and national governments, the media and the paramilitary groups themselves.
Alongside these texts, iconic posters will also be digitised. These strikingly visual pieces offer a different take on the subject of the Troubles and illustrate how images and slogans were used by all sides to grab attention, frighten, soothe, threaten, cajole and inform.
Gavin Carville, Divided Society Project Manager, says: “This archive holds items fundamental to any understanding of the history of Northern Ireland. As a resource it is irreplaceable and must be properly preserved as an historic archive of phenomenal importance. This is the first step in a strategy to eventually digitise the entire Northern Ireland Political Collection.”
Much of this material will also inform the Divided Society Outreach events which will use the Collection to work with local people of all ages on a reminiscence project, along with a GCSE toolkit. Additionally, two exhibitions will be created focusing on political cartoons and the social impact of the Troubles.
For more information about the Linen Hall Library and the Northern Ireland Political Collection
Pictures and interviews are available on request. Contact the Linen Hall Library on T: 028 9032 1707.
The Linen Hall Library, one of Belfast’s oldest charities, is open free to the public.
Our opening hours are Monday – Friday 9.30am – 5.30pm, and Saturday 9.30am – 4.00pm.