Visual Voices of the Prisons Memory Archive

preservation, access and engagement Project

The Visual Voices project is a collaboration between the Prison Memory Archive (PMA) Management Group, Queen’s University Belfast (QUB), and the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI), which is part of the Department for Communities. This short video will give you an idea of what’s happening:

The project, which will cost £750,000 to deliver will run until December 2019; the major funder is the National Lottery, who have awarded £500,500 through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The project aims to give the public access to the full archive of 300 hours of audio visual recordings and associated material. The collection will also be preserved and there will be an extensive engagement programme by community and educational groups that will address our conflicted past in a contested present.

What they said

Michael Willis

Director of the Public Record Office (PRONI

‘The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland is delighted to be working with the Prisons Memory Archive Management Group and Queen’s University Belfast on the Visual Voices project to preserve, catalogue and make available the Prisons Memory Archive with the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund.
This project gives PRONI an opportunity to include, in a very real sense, the voices of those individuals who may be under-represented in our archive. The recordings are unique memories and experiences which provide a commentary on recent events.

They are voices that may not appear in other records and so bring an additional perspective to the records that we already hold. We hope this project will enhance awareness and understanding of our recent past.  As part of the Department for Communities, we look forward to engaging with new audiences and ensuring this archive is preserved for future generations.’

Angelina Fusco

Member of HLF’s NI Committee

‘We were delighted to fund this project. We’ve travelled with the project from the early recording phase through to the current phase which will see the archive open and accessible to all. The breadth of heritage that is covered in the archive through the diverse range of stories and interviewees is fascinating. Using National Lottery player’s money, the Heritage Lottery Fund invests in all types of heritage projects to ensure that people can explore and understand our complex and often challenging history.’

Cahal McLaughlin

Professor of Film at Queen’s University Belfast and PMA Director

‘We are thrilled to continue our relationship with the Heritage Lottery Fund and our partnership with the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland. This project is made possible by the participation of the many voices who gave us their time and energy; they are truly inspirational and this award is an important step in having their voices finally heard. We hope this project will add to Queen’s global reputation in post conflict and peace building research.’Michael Willis, Director of the Public Record Office (PRONI)

Jenny Meegan

PMA Chair and participant

‘It is a privilege to be involved with the PMA. I particularly value the way that the principle of co-ownership means that, as participants, we are fully consulted about the use of our recordings and our decisions are respected.  Participants are members of the management committee and are active partners in this exciting project which tells inclusive and unheard stories about life in the prisons.’