The PRC was established by Anthony Spencer after the Newman Demographic Survey (NDS), its predecessor, was wound up in 1964. Like the NDS its object was to apply the social sciences in general, and social statistics in particular, to the mission of Catholic Christianity. During the 1960s it continued some of the research programmes of the NDS, such as parish censuses, but its geographical scope was widened – to include a documentary study of the educational, health and social action work of Christian Church agencies in the Third World (funded by the Ford Foundation), a study of the organisation of Catholic education in New Zealand (which led to the passage of the Private Schools Conditional Integration Act of the New Zealand Parliament in 1975), and work on pastoral and population statistics of the Catholic Church in Scotland.
The closure in 1969 of the Cavendish Square Graduate College, in London – Spencer’s academic base – forced the PRC to re-locate. It moved to Belfast in 1970. In 1975 it published a short but very revealing analysis of Catholic pastoral and population statistics of England & Wales. But for most of the 1970s and 1980s it was focused on Irish matters and in particular on conflict resolution by way of reducing the degree and extent of segregation in N. Ireland. Spencer was instrumental in the foundation of Lagan College, N. Ireland’s first planned integrated school, in 1981, and a PRC report in 1984 led to the development of a network of integrated schools throughout N. Ireland.
The PRC was inactive in the 1990s, while its library, archives and databank were in store in Belfast, but work was resumed in 2002 at its present home near Taunton. In 2004 it published an analysis of the Church’s pastoral and population statistics, 1958-2002. All of its published reports and papers are going to be made available for downloading and/or purchase. The PRC Trust was incorporated as a company limited by guarantee in March, 2007 (Reg. No 6184403) and is recognised as a charity by HMRC (Reg. No XT2956).
Its work up to now has been mainly directed at:
· the completion, editing and publication of NDS & PRC studies,
· the rationalisation of the pastoral & demographic statistics system of the Catholic Church in England & Wales, and its school statistics system,
· securing a permanent home for the Newman Collection (i.e. the NDS & PRC library, archives and databank) following the death or incapacity of Anthony Spencer.
Satisfactory arrangements have now been made for the preservation and future use of the Newman Collection, and of related collections. LINK TO Potted History