‘Transformative’ grant to preserve the story of humanism in the UK


20 February 2023
The entrance to Conway Hall on Red Lion Square, London © Geni, CC-BY-SA 4.0
Humanists UK and Conway Hall have announced the award of a grant of over £160,000 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to expand the work of the Humanist Heritage project

Humanist Heritage uncovers the untold story of humanism in the UK – a story of people, groups, objects, places, movements, publications, and ideas.

The two-year project – ‘Humanist Heritage: doers, dreamers, place makers’ – focuses on the freethinkers and activists who changed the world, and the communities they built around them. The project will combine digital interpretation with artistic response and public programming. 

This year, a new interactive virtual tour of Conway Hall, London – one of the only two surviving buildings in the UK built by and for humanists – will enable people near and far to virtually visit this unique space for the first time, learning more about the rich history contained there. 

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Research will be underpinned by Conway Hall’s vast library and archive, the largest and most comprehensive humanist research resource of its kind in the UK, as well as by the special collections at the Bishopsgate Institute. Personal stories will also be heard through the gathering of oral histories, offering insights impossible to capture from written materials alone. 

The project will offer volunteers the chance to assist in the digitisation, interpretation, and sharing of these collections and their stories. As well as shedding new light on the history and influence of non-religious people in the UK, these help to illuminate a vast range of themes and issues still resonant and relevant today, including work for freedom of speech and of the press, efforts to gain the vote, providing ceremonies, creating communities around shared values and ideals, and championing equality for women, ethnic minorities, and LGBT people. 

Were any of your ancestors freethinkers or activists? If so, Family Tree would love to hear their story. You can contact us by e-mail.