Historical Hansards: 50 Years of NI Parliamentary Papers Available
As the 24 November deadline for the restoration of devolved government in Northern Ireland looms, a new website being launched today at Parliament Buildings, has made all 92,000 pages of Hansard of the House of Commons for the Stormont-based Government of Northern Ireland, between 1921 and 1972, available online for the first time. It has been created by the Centre for Data Digitisation Analysis (CDDA) at Queen's University Belfast and the Arts and Humanities Data Service (AHDS) at King’s College London.
Casting a unique and valuable light on political, social, and economic developments within Northern Ireland, these important papers were previously held by very few institutions as reference only copies, and with no comprehensive subject index they were inaccessible and difficult to use.
Now http://stormont-papers.ahds.ac.uk will offer users the opportunity to access this important and intriguing collection of papers and the ability to search by key subjects or people, many of whom are still involved in the ongoing political discussions today.
The website has been indexed by subject heading and an introduction to the political figures has also been provided.
Explaining the rationale behind the project, Dr Paul Ell, Director of the CDDA at Queen’s said: “The 92,000 pages of Hansard on Northern Ireland, from post-partition in 1921 to the establishment of Direct Rule in 1972, were a vast virtually untapped resource that paid specific attention to social and economic matters of importance and debate, many of which remain of great significance today.
“Access to the papers was very limited and, as the resource is one of the primary sources for following the development of Northern Ireland, the CDDA at Queen’s felt it was vital that it be made available to the wider community.
“There is no wider community than that offered by the Internet and now anyone can access this site to find out how issues such as health, education, social services, local trade, agriculture, law and order, planning and industry have developed in Northern Ireland. I would like to pay tribute to the Arts and Humanities Research Council for their support, without which this project would not have been possible.”
Sheila Anderson, Director of the Arts and Humanities Data Service added “I congratulate the CDDA at Queen’s for this timely new website will brings both the history of Northern Ireland to life and makes it available to a whole new audience. A myriad of colourful information is available on political figures and their opinions, several of whom are still featuring strongly on the political scene today.”
Commenting on the importance of the new website, Eileen Bell, MLA, Speaker of the Assembly, who helped officially launch the resource said: "This is a significant and very exciting project. The papers from the old Stormont Parliament are a unique and hugely important source of information on the history and development of Northern Ireland. They help us to understand exactly how and why previous generations made decisions that, in one way or another, have helped shape the way we live today.
"However, until today, that rich archive has not been widely available. Now, thanks to the CDDA and AHDS, that has changed and people all over the world will be able to access the information. The period covered by the papers includes not only some of the most crucial times and events in local history, but in world history. By learning from the contents of the papers, I believe that we will all be better informed and equipped to make decisions that will benefit all the people of Northern Ireland, not just today, but in the future”
Preparing the data for the website took over two years and during that time the project also assisted five young people gain NVQ level II and III qualifications in IT and administration. CDDA has contributed to this Government Scheme for the past eight years working closely with the Belfast Centre of Learning.
Further information on the work of the CDDA, which, with project partners both nationally and internationally, has secured close to £6m of funding over the last few years, is available by visiting www.qub.ac.uk/cdda. Information on the Arts and Humanities Data Service is available at www.ahds.ac.uk
Notes to Editor
1. http://stormont-papers.ahds.ac.uk is being launched in the Long Gallery at Parliament Buildings today (Tuesday, 21 November). Media Opportunities are available from 11.15am.
2. The Centre for Data Digitisation Analysis at Queen’s is a research unit with interests in temporal Geographical Information Systems, the development of electronic research resources, e-Science and Grid technologies. It provides a comprehensive digitisation service to create key e-resources including capture of material, quality assurance, data post-processing and data delivery to user requirements and also offers NVQ full-time work experience training opportunities for suitable candidates.
3. The Arts and Humanities Data Service (AHDS) is a UK national digital library aiding the discovery, creation and preservation of digital resources in and for research, teaching and learning in the arts and humanities. Its executive office is based at King’s College London. It is funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee and the Arts and Humanities Research Council.
4. The Arts and Humanities Research Council supports research within a huge subject domain from traditional humanities subjects, such as history, modern languages and English literature, to the creative and performing arts. The AHRC funds research and postgraduate study within the UK's higher education institutions. In addition, on behalf of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, it provides funding for museums, galleries and collections that are based in, or attached to, higher education institutions in England. For further information please contact Lisa Mitchell, Communications Office, 028 9097 5384 or m0781 44 22 572
Photo 1 - Dr Paul Ell, Director of the CDDA at Queen's University Belfast and Sheila Anderson, Director of the Arts and Humanities Data Service at Kings College London pictured at Parliament Buildings, Belfast.
Photo 2 - The Team from CDDA who created the Historical Hansards website
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