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Collating and Preserving Primary Material on the Northern Ireland Conflict (Queen's University Belfast & University of Ulster)

Project Summary

The conflict in Northern Ireland over the last 35 years has generated a vast body of qualitative material such as interviews, video and audio recordings, photographs etc. that can be utilised to address the issues of violence and reconciliation. Effective use of the bulk of this material, however, has been thwarted by its wide dispersion and the lack of any central index or cataloguing system. Some people may know quite a bit about some of the material but no one has a comprehensive overview of it all. This project will centre on:

  1. the collation of information about qualitative material covering the 35 year span of 'the Troubles' in NI (content, availability, recording format etc.) into a single catalogue;
  2. particularly in instances where the material is 'at risk' of being lost, the project will take steps to procure or copy the material and lodge it in the Qualitative Data Archival Resource Centre (QUALIDATA) of the U.K. Data Archive at the University of Essex.

The proposal will be an extension of the ARK Project (Social and Political Archive for Northern Ireland), taking advantage of ARK's recognised expertise in the dissemination of social science information on Northern Ireland to the general public. The catalogue will be publicised and available through ARK and also through the QUALIDATA archive.

The existence of the catalogue will mean that anyone - from academic researchers and documentary film makers to secondary school students and interested members of the general public - will be able to discover quickly the scope of qualitative material on the Northern Ireland 'Troubles' that is held in archives and collections and will know how to go about viewing or obtaining access to the material. In cases where the material is held in small collections or privately and there is a danger that it could be lost, the project will endeavour to procure or copy the material and lodge it in the QUALIDATA archive in order to preserve it. The material kept by QUALIDATA will be available for viewing whenever the original holders have given permission for its access and the rights of the subjects who are recorded or depicted in the material can be safeguarded.

The existence of the catalogue and its associated archived material will be a valuable resource for researchers and commentators on 'the Troubles' and will help commemorate the experience of the people of Northern Ireland who have lived through the conflict.

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