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Humanists UK celebrates 126th anniversary with ‘History of Humanism in 100 Objects’

Between 29 April – 8 July Humanists UK will be sharing 100 objects from its history

Today Humanists UK launched its ‘History of Humanism in 100 Objects’ series, telling the story of the people, places, ideas, and ideals which have shaped the organised humanist movement in the UK.

From the original ‘happy human’ sketch, to Bertrand Russell’s teapot, to a model of the USS Enterprise, Humanists UK will be shining a light on some of the better and lesser known facets of humanist history, and showcasing the myriad contributions humanists have made to the world at large.

Since 2019, Humanists UK has been taking a deep dive into the rich history and influence of humanism and humanists in the UK, as showcased on the ever-growing Humanist Heritage website – launched in celebration of Humanists UK’s 125th anniversary.  Now, as Humanists UK approaches its 126th anniversary, the Humanist Heritage project is launching its latest strand: History of Humanism in 100 Objects.

Using this familiar formula, Humanists UK will explore the history of humanism and humanist ideas in the UK from their beginnings, releasing ten items each week in the lead-up to the anniversary of our first ever Annual Congress. This took place on 5 July 1896, and was chaired by activist Elizabeth Schwann. Schwann was just one of many women who were vitally important to the origins and development of Humanists UK; a part of our history we look forward to exploring further as part of this series.

These objects, some held in archives, some once real but now lost, and a very few just analogies, help give life to the stories Humanists UK has uncovered since beginning the Humanist Heritage project, and remind us of our favourite pieces of humanist history. Our first ten celebrate the history of Humanists UK, from its origins in the Ethical Culture Movement of the US, to our work today for a society where reason and kindness prevail.

Humanists UK Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented:

‘This project is a brilliant new way of giving life to the history of our movement, its people, and the humanist ideas that have changed our society for the better. These 100 objects, each with their own unique story, are all part of our shared humanist heritage. And, as we celebrate our 126th year, we are proud to present these objects to you, and bring them out of the archives to be enjoyed by everyone.


For further comment or information, contact Humanists UK Humanist Heritage Coordinator Madeleine Goodall at

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by 100,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.



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