BLT19 (19-century Business, Labour, Temperance and Trade) started life in 2016 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: it assembled 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. We piloted them in two schools in Greenwich and amongst volunteer adults. Since that successful pilot, BLT19 has expanded considerably to embrace exhibitions aimed at adults and the writing of fictional responses to the materials on the site.
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 Deborah Canavan, both PhD students at the University of Greenwich who have since gained their doctorates in the field. From 2018, graduate interns Victoria Tunn and Alexander Rose, and the curator Connie Gallagher, joined the team for short periods to help address the gallery-going public, write blogs and so on, for we found that adult audiences were interested in the history of work and how they thought about it at a time of rapid change in the nature of work and working conditions. Further plans in this area had to be rethought with the advent of Covid-19 in 2020, and the Creative Writing competition aimed at 12-18 years was the result.