Humanists UK relaunches unique historical archive of funerals

16 May, 2024

Humanists UK is delighted to announce the relaunch of the Humanist Funeral Tribute Archive – a unique collection of funeral tributes capturing hundreds of Humanist Ceremonies and unique humanist lives.

Now part of the Humanist Heritage project, this remarkable resource already contains tributes from more than 400 humanist funerals, and is the only archive of its kind in the UK.

A lasting tribute to the impact every person has on the lives of those who love them, the Tribute Archive offers a distinctly humanist kind of afterlife, informing the work of social historians and anthropologists looking to understand everyday lives in the 20th and 21st centuries.

About the Archive

First launched in 2018, the Humanist Funeral Tribute Archive is a digital collection of stories of people from all walks of life who had a funeral led by a Humanist Ceremonies celebrant. As well as famous faces, like DJ and presenter Dale Winton, the Archive preserves the memory of hundreds of ‘ordinary’ people, alongside photographs and orders of ceremony. As celebrant Felicity Harvest says:

‘Sometimes the people we write tributes for are well known, sometimes they have had remarkable achievements, sometimes they have been essentially private people who have lived their lives far from the public gaze, but all of them are deserving of a story well told.’

The Archive includes tributes like that for Professor David Glyn Vaughan, a glacier geophysicist who was one of the first scientists to write about climate change; Judith Elizabeth Hanna, an activist with organisations including CND and the Commission for Racial Equality; and Lancelot Melbourne, a porter at the Vale of Glamorgan’s Sully Hospital for almost 40 years.

The stories contained within the Humanist Funeral Tribute Archive are from real people, whose humanist funerals form part of a tradition well over a century old. This moving collection is available to explore now.

Why a Humanist Funeral Tribute Archive?

The brainchild of humanist celebrant Patsy Wallace, the idea for the Archive was born of a sense of the significance of the funeral tribute, both for the loved ones of the person who has died, and as a historical record of human life. ‘During my training with Humanists UK,’ Patsy said, ‘I learnt how important it is to get this life story right. Through my work I have learnt how rich and fascinating the lives of ordinary people can be. Individually they are an important part of family histories but, taken together, they form a detailed picture of everyday life in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.’

Offering insight into the lives, loves, and deaths of a remarkable range of people, the Humanist Funeral Tribute Archive provides a rich record for friends, relatives, and historians alike.

A growing collection

Anyone who has had a humanist funeral or memorial ceremony led by a celebrant trained and accredited by Humanists UK can have their life story preserved for future generations in the Humanist Funeral Tribute Archive. All that is required to take up this free service is the permission of the next of kin or person with authority.

If you would like your loved one’s life story and memory to be captured for posterity in the Humanist Funeral Tribute Archive, contact the Humanists UK funeral celebrant who led the ceremony. They will arrange for the tribute to be added to the Archive.

As Maureen Duffy, author and patron of Humanists UK, commented on the Archive’s launch in 2018:

‘Humanist funerals are a celebration of the life that was lived. This digital archive is the perfect way to preserve and continue that celebration for many years after that life comes to a close.’

Humanist Heritage Coordinator Madeleine Goodall said:

‘Since 2019, the Humanist Heritage project has sought to share the profound impact of humanism and humanists in the UK. In its preservation of humanist lives, and record of humanist ceremony, the Humanist Funeral Tribute Archive is a vital addition to this.

‘From the outset of Humanist Heritage we’ve been passionate about recovering the lesser known lives—those people who have lived humanist values but have not made the headlines; stories sometimes hard to recover, but worthy of remembrance. Through the incredible efforts of celebrants, volunteers, and now our Tribute Archive Coordinator, we now have over 400 of just this type of story, held in an online Archive like no other, and it continues to grow.’


You can visit the Humanist Funeral Tribute Archive today at: 

For further comment or information, media should contact Humanist Heritage Coordinator Madeleine Goodall at

About Humanist Heritage

In 2021, Humanists UK celebrated its 125th anniversary with a renewed focus on its history. The Humanist Heritage website is a rich web resource that uncovers the untold story of humanism in the UK – a story of people, groups, objects, places, movements, publications, and ideas. In 2023, Humanist Heritage was awarded generous support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Read more about the history of humanism in the UK on Humanist Heritage.

About Humanists UK

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by over 120,000 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.