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‘To open the Institution, well provided with all necessary supplies of furniture, Library and Apparatus’: the development of English dissenting academy libraries 1795-1900.

Dr Rachel Eckersley (University of Leeds)

Dissenting academies were founded in the aftermath of the Act of Uniformity of 1662 to provide Protestant students who dissented from the Church of England with a higher education comparable to that available in the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. This paper draws together research from published and forthcoming work on the approach taken by dissenting communities in England during the 18th and 19th centuries to develop the holdings and physical spaces of their academy libraries.

Dr Rachel Eckersley is Rare Books Specialist for the John Evan Bedford Library of Furniture History at the University of Leeds and was a Visiting Research Fellow (2015-2021) at The Queen Mary Centre for Religion and Literature in English (QMCRLE), Queen Mary University of London. She has published on radicalism, rational dissent, and library history, and is currently completing an article on female benefactors to dissenting academies in England during the long eighteenth century.


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