From the Archives Blog

From the Archives allows us in the Humanist Library and Archives to share some of our wonderful items and our learning with you!

It also includes entries from the former A2R (Alternatives to Religion) blog, a collaborative project between Conway Hall and Bishopsgate Institute which sparked exploration of some of the ways people have tried to make sense of the world and live together ethically without the need for faith in a God or gods. The key themes linking this broad movement are Freethought, Ethics, Humanism, Rationalism and Secularism. Material for these entries came from the British Humanist Association, The National Secular Society and Conway Hall Ethical Society. Posts were written by archivists, Nicky Hilton and Carl Harrison.

National Secular Society members in Nottingham on 5 June 1949

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National Secular Society members

National Secular Society members in Nottingham on 5 June 1949 attending the Society’s Annual Conference.

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Campaigning for Secular Education

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Letter written by Bertrand Russell

The National Secular Society has a long history of campaigning for secular education in the UK.

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Secularism in the UK and Internationally

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NSS meeting, 1926

Throughout the 20th century the National Secular Society kept records of local secular society branches and affiliated groups. This included organisations both in the UK and abroad. From the National Secular Society archive, this photograph captures the Birmingham Branch on their annual outing in 1926.

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“The English Voltaire”

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The English Voltaire

Thomas Paine, the political activist, philosopher, author, political theorist and revolutionary, is one figure who appears in all three archives of the Alternatives to Religion Project – National Secular Society, British Humanist Association and Conway Hall Ethical Society.

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The Grecian Club

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The Grecian Club

Hidden within the archives of the National Secular Society were the minute books and attendance records for a small but influential society called The Grecian Club.

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Humanists Are Marching!

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National Secular Society members and Humanists protesting

National Secular Society members and Humanists protesting on Easter Monday in Hyde Park, c.1970.

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Campaign against the ‘misrepresentation’ of Pius XII, 1958

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Campaign against the ‘misrepresentation’ of Pius XII, 1958

With the death of Pope Pius XII on 9 October 1958, British news published and broadcast a wave of positive eulogies for the Catholic leader. Celebrated nationally as the ‘Pope of Peace’, the National Secular Society were alarmed by the uncritical reporting of Pius’ leadership.

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NSS Outing c.1970

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NSS Outing c.1970

This orphaned photograph from a National Secular Society annual outing c.1970 shows the broad appeal of the Society, with men and women of all ages.

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The National Secular Society

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MP Micheal Foot

As a campaigning organisation, the National Secular Society has a strong tradition of tackling difficult questions and challenging the existing state of affairs.

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Charles Bradlaugh and the National Secular Society

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The National Secular Society was established by the political activist and atheist Charles Bradlaugh in 1886. The Society aimed to promote secularism and argued for a division between church and state.

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