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Documenting Ireland - Parliament, People and Migration

24 March 2011

A major online resource that goes live today (Fri) will be a boon for researchers such as historians and family roots buffs, according to University of Ulster lecturer Dr Johanne Devlin Trew, who has helped devised the collaborative initiative.

It is an online library which mirrors official events and everyday personal experiences from 1800 to the present, and is likely to attract wide interest at home and abroad

Called ‘DIPPAM’ (Documenting Ireland – Parliament, People and Migration,) it is a joint partnership of the University of Ulster, QUB, the Centre for Migration Studies in Omagh, Co Tyrone, and Libraries NI.

Dr Devlin Trew, who is a specialist in the history of migration, said: “ ‘DIPPAM’ -  - provides fingertip access to 200 years of official documents and records, and through letters and audio pieces it puts a human face on the hardships and successes of our emigration past.

“While it has an important focus on nine-county Ulster, it is very definitely an all-Ireland resource. It will be of huge interest to the general public, from post-primary students right through to academic scholars.”

The free-access resource is divided into three searchable databases, each concentrating on a key aspect of Irish history.

The EPPI database (Enhanced British Parliamentary Papers on Ireland) focuses on the period of the Act of Union, from 1800 to 1922, and includes 15,000 official documents relating to all aspects of Irish affairs, from the Famine to politics.

The Irish Emigration Database (IED) has sourced much of its information from Northern Ireland archives and private collections and traces the period of Irish emigration, mainly to North America, since the 18th century.

Invaluable documentation covering this era includes emigrant letters, newspaper articles, shipping advertisements and family papers.

The third database, Voices of Migration and Return (VMR), was collected between 2004 and 2008.  It provides an oral history archive of more than 90 interviews with emigrants and return emigrants.

Dr Devlin Trew, who is based in the School of Criminology, Politics and Social Policy, explains: “A principle goal of DIPPAM is to provide access to the real human stories of Irish and Northern Irish people and their experiences of the greater world through their letters, diaries and audio interviews.

“This allows us to explore their trials, tribulations and triumphs in Ireland and all over the world and the contributions they have made far beyond our shores.

“To ensure wide public impact, it has been developed through a unique partnership between both the University of Ulster and Queen’s University and, the Centre for Migration Studies at the Ulster American Folk Park in Omagh and Libraries NI.”

The project has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK).

For more information contact Dr Devlin Trew on