Conway Hall, once the home of an eighteenth-century dissident congregation at historic Red Lion Square, has been awarded £88,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund to support a new digitisation project.
As Conway Hall states:
Victorian Blogging – The Pamphleteers Who Dared to Dream of a Better World will digitise and open online access to over 1,300 19th century pamphlets, many extremely rare. Victorian radicals used this cheap and rapidly disseminated medium to express their ideas on contemporary “hot” issues such as freethought, secularism, gender and political suffrage and what we now know as humanism.’
Many of the issues addressed are still highly relevant today. The project will explore parallels between 19th century pamphleteering and 21st century blogging, and encourage people to re-engage with these issues. 2018 sees anniversaries of key milestones in the extension of the franchise, human rights and freedom of thought – the Representation of the People Act 1918, which opened voting in national elections to all men and some women, the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, urging respect for human, civil, economic and social rights, including freedom of expression and belief, and the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 which finally saw success for the campaign to de-criminalise blasphemy in the UK.
The project will create exhibitions and online and print learning resources bringing to life the campaigners, such as Annie Besant and Charles Bradlaugh, who fought for a more equal and better world. Local people will be able to hear talks and take part in a course, including historical walking tours as well as classroom based learning, to suit a variety of learning styles.
The project intends to train volunteers in a variety of skills, including cataloguing, researching, blogging and creating exhibitions. The wider project itself will make available a wide variety of sources that will prove vital to historians and other scholars around the world.
For more information, visit the Conway Hall website.