Database of the archives of UK Non-Governmental Organisations since 1945 (DANGO)

DANGO was funded by the AHRC Resource Enhancement Scheme and run by the Birmingham Centre for Modern and Contemporary History (part of the School of History and Cultures, University of Birmingham).

It came about because, though historians recognised the growing importance of new social movements and civil society organisations in changing British society and politics, no research tool existed to assist the growing number of researchers examining questions relating to Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs). DANGO, a searchable database that provides information on an institution's history, the condition and accessibility of its archives, as well as its catalogue and organisation, was designed to fill this gap.

That is, since 1945 NGOs and new social movements proliferated in Britain; indeed, over 5,000 were affiliated to the National Council of Voluntary Organisations at the start of the project. During this time, NGOs raised new political agendas, transformed and revived associational life, re-politicised generations seemingly disillusioned with the politics of the ballot box and inspired numerous pieces of legislation and regulatory initiatives. Given their growth and influence, research into political and social history in the contemporary period must recognise the contribution of these organisations, not just those of established political parties or classical institutions such as the labour movement.

Scholarly research into the importance of these institutions, however, has often been hindered by a lack of archival source materials or visibility thereof. Whilst some NGOs deposited material with archives (e.g., Christian Aid at SOAS, the Runnymede Trust at Middlesex University) which made them traceable via the National Register of Archives, the overwhelming majority of archival holdings remained in the private possession of the organisation and in varying conditions of maintenance. Without very extensive and lengthy searches or engaging in negotiations with busy NGO staff with other priorities, there was no research tool that could be consulted to locate these sources. This project sought to make these resources known to historians, and to facilitate further study and assessment of the contributions of NGOs to public life. By identifying the location, nature, scope and access rights of these NGO holdings, DANGO enabled a new era of public policy research in this area.

(Back to DANGO Presentation)