A unique historical collection of humanist funeral tributes.
Because every human life is unique. And every humanist funeral is too.
The stories contained within the Humanist Funeral Tribute Archive are from real people, donated by their families so that future generations can better know those who touched our lives, the things we did, and the ones we loved.
This unique portal into past generations is possible because humanist ceremonies have been around for at least 120 years, and in that time they’ve been the most personal, bespoke, and unique way to mark the life of someone who has died.
Humanist funerals have been around since the 1890s, and in recent decades tens of thousands of people have been remembered through humanist celebrations of their life. It’s often said after humanist funerals that mourners come away feeling like they know more about their loved ones, and feeling even more appreciation for them, than they did going in. Now that same richness and understanding – contained in the funeral script – will aid historians to better understand the past through the stories of the people who lived and died in the UK.
The Humanist Funeral Tribute Archive is a collaboration between Humanists UK, the national charity for non-religious people (and operator of Humanist Ceremonies™) and the Bishopsgate Institute, a British cultural institute dedicated to opening minds, challenging perceptions, and enriching lives.
Anyone who owns a tribute or script from a humanist funeral conducted by a Humanists UK celebrant can add their loved one’s tribute to the archive. It is estimated that as many as one million people in the UK could have something to add.
If you have a tribute to add, then more details on how to do so can be found below. And if you have any questions about the archive, then you can get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
As humanists, we focus on shaping our own lives in the here and now because we believe it’s the only life we have. When we die, we live on mainly in the memories of our loved ones. These memories and stories come to the fore at a humanist funeral, painting a vivid picture of the life of the person who has died. By donating copies of your humanist funeral tributes to the archive, you can help those vivid memories of your loved ones to live on forever.
Stories detailed in the Humanist Funeral Tribute Archive feature people from all walks of life. These three highlights of tributes that are already present should give you a flavour of what’s inside.
Michael Wagner, a soldier who escaped from a prisoner of war camp, spent five cold months hiding in a chapel perched on a crag in the Italian mountains.
Peter Adams was the first man convicted of murder after the death penalty was abolished, a crime he maintained he didn’t commit, and was released 17 years later. He was thankful not to have lived in an earlier age.
Humanist funerals or memorial ceremonies are important times for family and friends to focus their thoughts on the person who has died where, for those who weren’t religious, a church or other religious service can feel inappropriate. A humanist funeral brings people together to express and share sadness but also to mark the life lived in a way that is simple and sincere. Friends and family greatly appreciate that each humanist funeral is individually written, giving you the flexibility to create an occasion that best fits who your loved one really was and what they meant to those around them.
One in seven people in Britain (7 million people, or 14% of the population) say they would like a humanist funeral when they die, according to figures from YouGov. This proportion of funerals is only expected to grow over time as the UK becomes ever more non-religious. Recent studies suggest that 53% of people in Britain are non-religious, and this figure rises to 71% for under-25s. Around half of them hold humanist beliefs.
You’ll be in safe hands with a Humanist Ceremonies™ celebrant. Dedicated, empathetic, and creative people, they will meet with you and listen to your ideas and preferences before creating, writing, and then delivering a truly personal ceremony that reflects exactly what is important to you and what you want from the occasion.
Humanist Ceremonies™ is the network of non-religious celebrants trained, accredited, insured, and quality-assured by Humanists UK. We are the UK’s longstanding provider of non-religious ceremonies, dating back to 1896, and provide individually-prepared ceremonies to mark important occasions in life such as funerals (as well as namings, weddings, and partnership ceremonies). 98% of feedback about our funerals receives 5/5 ratings for quality.
The Humanist Funeral Tribute Archive is open for submissions from the public, and we estimate that maybe as as one million people alive in the UK today could have stories to add.
Anyone whose loved one has had a humanist funeral with a Humanists UK-accredited celebrant (formerly a British Humanist Association-accredited celebrant) is welcome to submit their tribute to the archive and help us build an evolving record of the lives and personalities that made up the 20th and 21st centuries.
The full Archive is available to access through the Bishopsgate Institute website, where it is preserved for future academic use. The Bishopsgate Institute is also home to the Humanists UK archive.
If you want to make a submission, you should first of all contact the celebrant who conducted the funeral to ask them to submit it. Or, if this isn’t possible, please email us at email@example.com, along with the name of the celebrant who took the funeral, a copy of the consent form (PDF/Word), the tribute or eulogy (taken from the funeral ceremony), and any photos you wish to provide.