About DANGO

The Project

The DANGO project sought to assist researchers in finding out as much as possible about the archives of NGOs, charities and voluntary organisations in a bid to encourage interest in bodies such as Oxfam, Amnesty, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, and the contribution they have made, and continue to make, to our society and politics. It achieved this by developing a database of archival information on NGOs.

The project was based at the Centre for Modern and Contemporary History in the University of Birmingham's Department of History. It ran from November 2005 to October 2007 under the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and then was continued from May 2008 to October 2011 under the NGOs in Britain since 1945 project funded by the Leverhulme Trust. Both projects have now ended and, though the database is still operational, it is no longer updated or maintained.

Principal investigators on the project were University of Birmingham historians Prof Matthew Hilton and Prof Nick Crowson, who were supported by researchers (James McKay and Jeff Mouhot) and an administrator (Sarah Davies), and guided from time-to-time by an Advisory Panel (Chris Cook, Melinda Haunton and Christine Penney).

DANGO was graded  'outstanding' by the AHRC in June 2008.

The Database

DANGO is an online, free-to-access database that enables researchers to identify NGOs and access information about the content, location and accessibility of their archival holdings.

In a similar fashion to projects such as the BARGE database of archives relating to German-Jewish refugees, and Mundus on missionary sources, the database was designed to marry the flexibility and accessibility of an online format with the rich information found in archival source guides (notably, for DANGO, that of Chris Cook's The Routledge Guide to British Political Archives. Sources since 1945, published in 2006). Moreover, new or more up-to-date archive details were acquired  through a questionnaire that asked, amongst other things, about papers held by the organisation and external bodies, access conditions, and a thumbnail guide to the content and scope of the collections. In so doing, archives that were previously unknown to researchers were uncovered. 

Users of the database are able to search for NGOs in various ways, such as name (including previous names and the names of related organisations), and areas of interest. Having done so, they will be presented with a brief profile of the organisations history and activities (typically 50-100 words), plus contact details (if applicable), attributed keywords, previous names, related organisations, key dates, and so on.

Once users have identified an organisation they are interested in, they are then able to access data regarding that body's archives. Links to online catalogues are provided, as well as summaries of information held elsewhere, such as in the NRAs catalogue collection, with the aim being to bring together everything that is currently in the public domain. All the essential information for users, such as location, extent and access conditions, is also provided.

The Website

The DANGO website was intended to act as an ideas-shop for all those researching NGOs. In this vein, reading lists by specific NGO interest, guides to sources and particularly interesting archives, advice for NGOs looking to deposit and preserve their papers, the questionnaire used to explore archival holdings, and working definitions of NGOs were (and continue to be) made available through it.

(Read more about DANGO)

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