Kate Adie launches ‘Divided Society’ archive of Troubles

Digital resource features posters, documents and articles relating to 1990s

John Hume speaking to the press at the conclusion of the talks in Stormont in, April 1998. Photograph: Alan Betson

John Hume speaking to the press at the conclusion of the talks in Stormont in, April 1998. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Journalist Kate Adie at the Linen Hall Library in central Belfast has launched a new online archive of the Troubles and of the peace process of the 1990s.

The digital resource called Divided Society features a wide range of material relating to the 1990s when Northern Ireland made the transformation from conflict, to a peace process, to the Belfast Agreement of April 1998.

The archive includes hundreds of journal titles containing thousands of articles, hundreds of political posters, a video and audio gallery, educational toolkits, and 10 essays from leading academics such as Marianne Elliott, Adrian Guelke and Connal Parr.

The Linen Hall Library has been working on the project since 2014. It cost about £500,000 (€570,200) and is funded by the British Heritage Lottery Fund, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Ulster Garden Villages.

The Divided Society archive focuses on 1990-1998, a period which saw the talks between John Hume and Gerry Adams, the Downing Street Declaration, IRA and loyalist ceasefires, peace process talks and the signing of the Belfast Agreement on Good Friday 20 years ago.

The publications represent a variety of perspectives, including from political parties, paramilitary groups, community organisations, the British and Irish governments and from various pressure groups.

Two exhibitions, We Lived It – the social impact of the Troubles, and Laughter in the Dark – illustrating the Troubles, were also created and displayed as part of the project.

Atmosphere

Former US senator George Mitchell, who chaired the talks leading to the Belfast Agreement, wrote an introduction to the resource. “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,” he said.

“Nearly 20 years later, some of these issues remain, but are solvable if the political leaders are willing to engage and talk,” added Mr Mitchell.

“The essence of the project is to give an understanding of what it was like living during a conflict,” said Julie Andrews, director of the Linen Hall Library.

Information about the archive is available at dividedsociety.org or linenhall.com.