Posted - 07-02-2014 No Comments

News and Events

Welsh Newspapers Online – 27 new publications

Caernarvon and Denbigh Herald

There is great excitement today as we release 27 publications (200,000 pages) from the Library’s rich collection on Welsh Newspapers Online.

Take a trip back in time from the comfort of your home or office and discover millions of freely available articles published before 1919.

The resource now allows you to search and read over 630,000 pages from almost 100 newspaper publications from the National Library’s collection, and this will grow to over 1 million pages as more publications are added during 2014.
Among the latest titles are Y Negesydd, Caernarvon and Denbigh Herald, Glamorgan Gazette, Carmarthen Journal, Welshman, and Rhondda Leader, not forgetting Y Drych, the weekly newspaper for the Welsh diaspora in America.

The resource also includes some publications that were digitised for The Welsh Experience of World War One project.

Browse the resource and discover unique information on a variety of subjects, including family history, local history and much more that was once difficult to find unless the researcher was able to browse through years of heavy volumes.

Posted - 31-01-2014 No Comments


What’s new? Archives : access and diversity

The list below of archives which have been added to the Online Catalogue during the last few months shows the diverse range of non-print material held at this Library. From theatrical archives to literary, estate, political and industrial archives, online access to subject material relevant to many fields of study is now available on the Library’s Catalogue.

Included in this list is an important apicultural archive of international renown, namely the records of the International Bee Research Association (IBRA) formerly held in Cardiff. As well as paper records, a large collection of IBRA printed works, photographs, lantern slides and glass slides have been transferred to the care of the Library.

The list is also testament to the versatility of archivists – from arranging, interpreting and listing bee research records to unravelling the significance of avant garde theatrical records of all kinds (Brith Gof and Cliff (Clifford) McLucas Archives), or understanding the functions and responsibilities of a myriad of industrial boards, councils and committees (Monmouthshire and South Wales Coal Owners Association Records) – such tasks are essential in order to assist potential researchers, not only to discover the existence of valuable primary materials, but also to understand their significance and value.

Sketch showing correct position of lamp in relation to swing of tool (Coalowners, P6/4/7)

‘Sketch showing correct position of lamp in relation to swing of tool’ (Coal Owners Association Records, P6/4/7)

Brith Gof Archive

Cliff (Clifford) McLucas Archive

Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Cymru – Cyfansoddiadau a Beirniadaethau

International Bee Research Association (IBRA) Records

Lockwood Estate Records

Monmouthshire and South Wales Coal Owners Association Records

Newport Playgoers’ Society Records

Plas Power Estate Records and Papers

Wales Anti-Apartheid Movement Papers

Welsh Horse (Lancers) Yeomanry Movement Papers

Alwyn J. Roberts


Posted - 30-01-2014 No Comments

News and Events

Valerie Ganz

Valerie Ganz was born in Swansea overlooking the dramatic sweep of Swansea Bay with the background of heavy industry. She attended Swansea College of Art and studied painting, sculpture and stained glass. She remained as a tutor until 1973 when she turned her attention to painting full time.

As her interest in the landscape of South Wales grew, her attention was drawn to the landscape of industrial areas and, in particular, the mining industry. Valerie GanzOver a period of many years, she worked at fourteen different collieries.
During her career she has studied many and varied subjects all over the world.

One of her artworks can be seen in the Welsh Landscapes Exhibition in the Gregynog Gallery.
This is a prestigious exhibition of paintings and drawings from the Library’s collection which illustrate the response to the Welsh landscape by various artists over the centuries.
From the picturesque to the industrial this exhibition is undoubtedly a feast for the eyes in one of Wales’s premier exhibition venues.

This exhibition continues until Saturday 10th May.

Posted - 29-01-2014 No Comments


Celebrate the Chinese New Year of the Horse

The National Library of Wales celebrates the Chinese New Year of the Horse

The National Library of Wales welcomes the New Year of the Horse with an exhibition of rare material from its excellent collection of historical Chinese texts. Assembled by Professor David Hawkes, who taught at the University of Peking in the 1940s and early 1950s, it includes items ranging from the ancient Dynasties to the Republic and the early years of New China under Mao Zhedong. David Hawkes was a world-famous scholar of Chinese literature and history, a Professor of Chinese at Oxford University, and the most celebrated translator into English of the Chinese classic The Story of the Stone (石头记). His entire library is held by the National Library.

Further information on the Hawkes Collection at the National Library of Wales, including an introduction to the collection by Dr Wu Jianzhong, Director of the Shanghai Library (上海图书馆) .

The Exhibition may be seen in the Summers Room at the National Library of Wales from 30 January to 15 February 2014.  All welcome!

Posted - 10-01-2014 No Comments

Collections / News and Events

Aberystwyth storm damage – history repeating itself

Following the recent stormy weather, I found two postcards by Aberystwyth photographer Arthur Lewis showing the storm damage in 1927, both entitled ‘Havoc of the storm, Aberystwyth, Oct. 1927′.

Blog storm

NLW, Photo Album 1695 (PZ 6811/35)




Blog storm 2

NLW, Photo Album 1695 (PZ 6811/29)














History seems to be repeating itself!

W. Troughton

Posted - 21-12-2013 No Comments

Collections / Digitisation

The Welsh experience of Christmas during World War One

As 2013 draws to a close, the coming New Year will see the nation commemorating the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War and the subsequent four years of global conflict that resulted in over 37 million casualties.

Here at The National Library of Wales, we have led a project in partnership with the libraries, special collections, and archives of Wales over the past eighteen months or so to mass digitise primary sources relating to World War One.  This has resulted in an online resource which provides access to manuscript and archival sources, photographic material, recruitment posters, newspapers, journals and audio material which reveals the often hidden history of the First World War as it impacted all aspects of Welsh life, language and culture.  The Welsh experience of World War One project was officially launched earlier in November.

Throughout the project, as an archivist, I have been working closely with the original material ensuring that the collections and metadata were represented accurately for the project.  And, as it is nearly Christmas, what a better way of illustrating the content available than for me to highlight some of the historical sources that can be found in the digital archive that provides an insight to Christmastime during the War years.


Several Christmas cards can be found which are scattered among many collections.  A good selection can be found here which were mainly addressed to Sergeant Major Richard Fear, the founder and organiser of the Aberystwyth Weekly Comforts for Fighters Fund, from soldiers serving overseas.










Letters of thanks were also written in the trench on Christmas Day thanking the generosity of the Fund in sending special Christmas parcels that usually contained a Christmas cake, plum pudding, chocolate and the usual supply of cigarettes.


A special addendum within the War Diary of the 15th Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers can be seen for the 25th of December 1916.  A room at Bollezeele Station in northern France was hired, cleaned, furnished and decorated for a Battalion Christmas dinner.  Six hundred men were served soup, turkey and vegetables, Christmas pudding and sweets which were washed down with stout and beer, and a concert followed which was given entirely by the men and lasted until eleven o’clock in the evening, when all were “well satisfied”.


However, the entry for Christmas Day 1917 provides a contrasting account.  The dinners were served in the trenches, although noted that it was “thoroughly enjoyed by all”, and during the afternoon, gifts were distributed in the cold weather.

These, hopefully, provides one with a glimpse of what can be read and learned from the primary sources that are freely available on  Take an opportunity to see what you’ll discover yourself.

D. Rhys Davies


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Posted - 10-12-2013 No Comments

Collections / Digitisation / News and Events

‘Warriors went to Catraeth’: a Welsh icon online

The National Library of Wales has published new images of one of Wales’s greatest literary treasures. It is the last of the Four Ancient Books of Wales to appear online.

The thirteenth-century Book of Aneirin, owned by Cardiff Council, and now kept at Aberystwyth, is one of the most important of Welsh books. It was written on animal skin by monks during the last decades of Welsh independent rule, and contains ‘the Gododdin’, a series of elegies commemorating warriors who died in battle at the end of the sixth century. At that time, parts of Northern England and Southern Scotland were ruled by Brythonic kingdoms who were attempting to guard their frontiers against the territorial advances of English settlers. After feasting for a year at Din Eidyn (modern day Edinburgh), 300 crack troops from the kingdom known as Manaw Gododdin marched south to face the English at a strategic point known as Catraeth (probably the modern-day garrison town of Catterick, Yorkshire). After a fierce battle, only 3 Brythonic warriors escaped with their lives, among them the poet Aneirin. He then composed a series of stanzas in a form of early Welsh, commemorating the slain young warriors.
Llyfr Aneirin
Although they went to their deaths, the young men of Edinburgh butchered their enemies, and their ferocity and unrelenting savagery is celebrated by the poet. These youths would “sooner go to battle than to a wedding feast”, and their goal was to ensure that “the clash of spears echoed in the heads of mothers” as they “paid for their mead” with their lives. They were defeated, but their valiant attempt was regarded as being heroic, and not in vain.

A great emphasis is placed on the fact that the warriors died to fulfil their obligations to their Edinburgh patron, who had fortified them with strong drink during the previous year of preparation for battle.

Images of the Book of Aneirin are published to coincide with a popular exhibition which is drawing crowds to the National Library of Wales at Aberystwyth. 4 Books: Welsh Icons United is the first-ever opportunity for the public to view all early Welsh manuscripts together in one place, including the Red Book of Hergest, on loan from Jesus College Oxford.

Never before has the opportunity arisen for visitors to see all of Wales’s early literature brought together in one venue. The icing on the cake is that the last one of the Four Ancient Books of Wales has finally secured an online presence, and can be seen and appreciated by a worldwide audience. It now joins the Aberystwyth-based Black Book of Carmarthen and Book of Taliesin, and Oxford-based Red Book of Hergest, in cyberspace.

Posted - 04-12-2013 No Comments

Collections / Exhibitions / News and Events

Catrin o Ferain: femme fatale?

Catrin o Ferain

Catrin o Ferain (clutching a book and skull)

It is unlikely that we shall ever find the whole truth surrounding the four marriages of Catrin o Ferain (Katherine of Berain, d. 1591). She is reputed to have agreed to one marriage proposal on the way to a husband’s funeral. Her favourite method of despatching lovers is said to have been by pouring molten lead into their ears! The popular image is that of a scheming, manipulative ‘Lucrezia Borgia of Wales’. Thus has she become firmly established as arguably the most well-known female resident of Wales during the Tudor period. But what of the truth?

Catrin did marry 4 times, and made advantageous matches (and so did her husbands!). Her descendants became the ancestors of many prominent families in North Wales. She drew a succession of poets to her household, and commissioned one poet, Wiliam Cynwal, to record her family’s lineage in a special ‘household book’. More remarkably still, we have a picture of what she looked like, perhaps one of the earliest depictions of a named Welsh woman.

The National Museum of Wales has since 1957 owned a portrait of Catrin, painted on panels during her sojourn at Antwerp in 1568, and attributed to Adriaen van Cronenburgh. Now, through the kindness of the Garthewin family, visitors to the National Library of Wales will be able to see a version of the same painting.

Lyn Lewis Dafis with Menna and Bethany McBain

Lyn Lewis Dafis with Menna and Bethany McBain viewing the painting

On 20 November, in a special ceremony at the Library, Menna and Bethany McBain presented a portrait of their ancestor to the temporary safe-keeping of the Library. Preliminary studies seem to indicate that this painting may also have been executed at Antwerp during the late 1560s, perhaps as a contemporary version of the Cardiff portrait.

A copy presented to the Garthewin family

A copy of the painting presented by the Library to the Garthewin family

Visitors to the Library will now be able to gaze at the ‘Mother of Wales’, and decide for themselves whether or not the benign and pious-looking figure deserves the reputation built up in folk memory. Thus, another ‘icon’ awaits to welcome visitors to this term’s exhibits at the National Library of Wales.

Maredudd ap Huw & Lona Mason

Posted - 28-11-2013 No Comments

News and Events


R.S Thomas 'What do you really believe?  (ITV West, 1978)

As a part of a series of events held throughout Wales celebrating the centenary of R.S Thomas‘s birth, the Library will be holding an R.S Thomas Day on Wednesday 4 December.

This will comprise of a lunchtime presentation, ‘R.S Thomas and Peter Hope Jones: Delweddu Enlli’ given by Dr Jason Walford Davies at 1.15pm, followed by  a selection of films which include The Airy Tomb (1960) and What do you really believe?(ITV 1978) at 2.30pm.

Dr Jason Walford DaviesThe presentation by Dr Jason Walford Davies focusses on the book, Between Sea and Sky: Images of Bardsey – photographs of Bardsey by Peter Hope Jones, interspersed with extracts from R. S. Thomas’s poetry. Jason will discuss the book’s sumptuous and suggestive juxtaposition of images and text. The event will be in Welsh with simultaneous translation provided.

At 2.30pm the films, The Airy Tomb (1960) by Emyr The Airy Tomb - R.S. ThomasHumphreys, R.S. Thomas: Priest and Poet (BBC,1971) by John Ormond, and and the first ever screening in Wales of an enthralling interview in the series, What do you really believe? (ITV West, 1978) – newly discovered in the ITV Archive will be shown.

Free admission by ticket to both events, available online, or by contacting the Library’s Shop (01970) 632 548.

Should you with to attend both events please order each ticket separately.

Posted - 27-11-2013 No Comments


John Petts: Stained Glass Window Designs

14 September – 14 December 2013

“An idea doesn’t exist unless you do something about it” John Petts

Fifty years ago on 15 September 1963, extremist group the Ku Klux Klan planted a bomb at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, which killed four black girls attending Sunday school.

This act of terrorism touched the hearts of the people of Wales, particularly artist John Petts in his home at Llansteffan. He offered his services to design and create a new stained glass window for the church, and together with the Western Mail launched a campaign to raise funds for the appeal. The campaign heightened as money poured in from the masses, and the Western Mail published images of Welsh people from all races queuing to personally donate what they could.

Petts visited the church and worked on the design over the course of a year. Here are the window studies and final design by Petts, depicting a black Christ with arms outstretched, which was considered controversial at the time. In 1965, the window was installed and dedicated ‘Given by the people of Wales’.

Today, the window is known as the ‘Wales Window’ and is an iconic symbol of the American Civil rights movement.

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