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The Queen Mary Centre for Religion and Literature in English

Dissenting Academies Online

Trevecca College, Brecknockshire, South Wales, 1768 -- photograph courtesy of the Trustees of Dr Williams’s Library
Trevecca College, Brecknockshire, South Wales, 1768 -- photograph courtesy of the Trustees of Dr Williams’s Library

Dissenting Academies Online brings together, for the first time, a wealth of information about dissenting higher education from the later seventeenth to the later nineteenth centuries. Drawing on long-neglected collections and records, this new resource documents over two hundred academies, as well as the hundreds of tutors they employed, thousands of students they educated, and tens of thousands of books held in their libraries.

The extensive Database and Encyclopedia is a major research resource containing detailed historical accounts of individual academies, Congregational, Presbyterian, Unitarian, Baptist, Methodist, and nondenominational, together with biographical articles on leading tutors including Joseph Priestley and Thomas Belsham, and a wealth of data on the lives and careers of students who received an academy education, such as Thomas Secker, Isaac Watts, and Thomas Malthus.

The Virtual Library System is a groundbreaking union catalogue recording the holdings of leading Baptist, Congregational, and Presbyterian academy libraries in England over the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The VLS also captures over 30,000 individual borrowings from these libraries, providing an unprecedented view into the reading preferences of students and tutors.

Together, these resources provide a detailed and growing account of the academies themselves, where they were, what was taught, the men who studied at them, the books they read, and their impact on British society and culture over a period of two centuries. Dissenting Academies Online provides an essential guide to the subject for anyone interested in the social, religious, economic, intellectual, and literary history of the British Isles. Fully integrated and fully searchable, it sets a new standard in historical digital humanities resources.

Dissenting Academies Online has been created by Rosemary Dixon, Simon Dixon, Inga Jones, and Kyle Roberts, with the technical assistance of Dmitri Iourinski, and under the direction of Isabel Rivers and David Wykes.

The Dissenting Academies Online logo features students at Cheshunt College.

For further information go to the Dissenting Academies Project.


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