BLT19 (Nineteenth-Century Business, Labour, Temperance, & Trade Periodicals) started life as a University of Greenwich pilot program aimed at encouraging students and educators to access and engage with digitised nineteenth-century periodicals. The initial pilot ran between 1 April and 31 July 2016 aiming to assemble a small, digital collection of nineteenth-century trade publications and teaching materials for secondary and undergraduate educators to use in their English, Media History, and History classrooms.
The project research team is led by Andrew King, Professor of English Literature and Literary Studies at the University of Greenwich. The initial team included Ann M. Hale and Debbie Canavan, both PhD students at the University of Greenwich. From 2018, the project was both expanded and shifted with the help of graduate interns Victoria Tunn and Alexander Rose, and the curator Connie Gallagher, to address wider audiences, including – given the wealth of striking visual material the site offers – the gallery going public, and adult audiences interested in the history of work at a time of rapid change in the nature of work and working conditions.
The key aims of the pilot project were originally:
- To promote the study of nineteenth-century periodicals in secondary and undergraduate classrooms;
- To highlight the variety of content found in historical (and particularly historical trade) periodicals, which can be used in the classroom to explore a myriad of subjects: history, literature, gender, media history, class, family life, education, literacy, labour and working conditions, and substance abuse (the major concern of Temperance);
- To provide pedagogical materials to allow secondary and undergraduate educators to incorporate historical periodicals into a variety of classroom contexts;
- To make lesser-known trade periodicals digitally available in order to encourage greater research into the nineteenth-century trade press;
- To expand the literary ‘canon’ not only to include periodical studies, but also to expand the study of nineteenth-century periodicals beyond the high-status literary reviews; publications associated with famous literary figures, such as Dickens; and well-known “brands” such as Punch and the Strand Magazine; and
- To foster enthusiasm for Victorian history, literature, culture, and periodical studies.
While these still remain, the project has since expanded to focus on aims 4 and 6, with particular emphasis on what such periodicals can tell us about the history of “work” and what that knowledge can do to clarify our attitudes and actions today.
The original BLT19 Project targeted three main constituencies:
- Educators (Key Stages 3-5 and Undergraduate);
- Students (Key Stages 3-5 and Undergraduate); and
- Researchers and Academics.
It now targets the gallery-going public and everyone interested in what work means for them.
The BLT19 Pilot Outcomes included:
- An open-access website (www.blt19.org or www.blt19.co.uk) hosting digitised editions of selected nineteenth-century periodicals concerned with business, labour, temperance, and trade. The pilot editions will be limited to selected volumes/issues of two publications:
- A web-based collection of teaching/pedagogical materials for secondary and undergraduate educators based upon the open-access BLT19 digitised editions:
- Academic Levels: Key Stages 3-5 and Undergraduate
- Subjects: English, History, and Media Studies
- A published volume of essays on the nineteenth-century business, labour, trade, and temperance press. This has been contracted to Routledge and will appear in 2021.
The selection of periodicals has expanded to include:
The British Workwoman (issues 232-290)
The Building World (one issue, 27 March 1897)
The Navy and Army Illustrated (issues 57, 68, 75, 78, 111, 117, 132, 135, 139, 176, 181)
Schools’ Involvement with BLT19:
During the pilot phase, schools are being asked to use and evaluate the BLT19 teaching materials, which focus on English, History, and/or Media Studies. If the teacher is amenable, the research team proposes to have one member present in the class to observe how the materials are used in the classroom. Both educators and students will be asked to complete an evaluation after the teaching/observation session.
After the Pilot Project:
If the pilot is successful, we plan to expand the resource in line with the feedback we have received from users.