Posted - 30-07-2014 No Comments

News and Events



A photograph from the DC Harries archive in “A private in the Welsh Regiment”, used by Bedwyr Williams, in Traw

Four leading international artists have been commissioned by 14-18-NOW to create striking public artworks in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England as part of LIGHTS OUT, a nationwide event that invites everyone in the UK to take part by turning off their lights from 10pm to 11pm on 4 August to mark the centenary of the outbreak of World War One
The installation that has been created for Wales as part of this unique event will contain images of unknown recruits and conscripts from Wales documented in the digital archive developed by the archives and special collections of Wales.

In a powerful piece called Traw, Welsh artist Bedwyr Williams has created a large-scale video and sound installation that will be presented at the site of the North Wales Memorial Arch, Bangor. The memorial takes centre stage in front of images projected onto the enormous facing wall of Bangor University’s new Pontio Arts and Innovation Centre.

Taking photographs found in the digital archive,, Williams creates a sequence of images of local military and civilian personnel who were affected by WW1.  Excluding all uniform and references to rank, the close up faces reveal something of the individual’s personality and personal sacrifice in a war where death was measured in millions. Traw is a Welsh word meaning to strike.  A resonating soundtrack that centres on a slowed down clock ticking underpins the work and will be felt, as much as heard, across the city. Bedwyr Williams is one of Wales’ leading visual artists.  He lives and works in north Wales and his work takes many different forms, including installation, performance, drawing, sculpture and increasingly film.  In 2013 he represented Wales at the Venice Biennale.

D.C. Harries glass plate negative collection at NLW
The images that will be seen in Traw are taken from the D.C. Harries collection of glass plate negatives held by the National Library of Wales. The Library has digitized around 200 images from this collection, thought to be First World War recruits or conscripts from Llandeilo and Ammanford (Rhydaman), where DC Harries operated photographic studios. Most are individual images, some are group shots with friends or family. Dates of 1914-18 are given for most of the images, though some can be more accurately dated by the presence of Overseas Service Chevrons worn on the right forearm which were introduced in December 1917; or wound stripes, introduced in July 1916. However, they are all anonymous – we do not know the identities of these unknown service personnel.
The use of studio portrait photography for this sort of portraiture was also used near the beginning of photography, during the American Civil War. This type of image was in its last flourishing at the time of the First World War.

Useful Links:
D C Harries and his business
The D C Harries Collection
Portrait photography during the American civil war

The digital archive was launched in November 2013. It was funded by Jisc, and is a partnership of archives and special collections of Wales. It brings together content from the National Library of Wales; Bangor University; Cardiff University; Aberystwyth University; Swansea University; University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s; Local archives of Conwy, Flintshire, Glamorgan, and Gwent; BBC Cymru Wales Archive, and community content generated through The People’s Collection Wales. The archive reveals the hidden histories of the Welsh experience of the First World War, and brings together over 200,000 pages of historic archives, manuscripts, newspapers and photographs. The digital archive is freely accessible for use and re-use – for research, teaching, and all aspects of commemoration.

The images in Cymru1914 are just a very small sample of over 2,000 First World War portraits in the DC Harries archive. Next year, the project hopes to digitise many more and launch a crowdsourcing experiment, inviting digital community engagement to help identify the people in the images, commemorating and making their mark on history at last.

Millions of people are expected to take part in LIGHTS OUT around the UK. Hundreds of local authorities, iconic buildings, national organisations, parish councils and places of worship have already pledged their support.
LIGHTS OUT is being organised by 14-18 NOW, the official cultural programme for the First World War Centenary Commemorations.

Lights Out

Press Release

Bedwyr Williams


Posted - 16-07-2014 No Comments


Archives newly released

The list below of archives which have recently been added to the Online Catalogue shows how the Library can satisfy the demands of a wide range of users seeking primary materials in order to further their research. The subject areas represented in the archives include archaeology, art and sculpture, literature, music, together with family and local history.

Collecting personal papers of individuals ‘who have played an important role in the life of the nation’ has always featured prominently in the Library’s Collection Development Policy. Such collections are not only essential for biographical purposes, but they also throw a wider light on the subject matter in question, and contain valuable information on other prominent individuals engaged in the same profession or sharing similar interests. Thus, not only do the papers of Jonah Jones (1919-2004) reflect his work as a sculptor, artist and writer, but the inclusion of letters to him from a wide circle of friends and colleagues, such as Melvyn Bragg, John Petts and Jan Morris, add to the research potential of the archive. Similarly, the papers of Sir Cyril Fox (1882-1967) not only include his working papers as an archaeologist, but also personal and professional correspondence, and papers accumulated by his son during the preparation of his father’s biography.

The completion of the cataloguing work on The Jeff Towns (Dylan Thomas) Collection is timely in that it coincides with the Dylan Thomas 100 Festival, ( the year-long celebration of the birth of one of Wales’ greatest literary talents. This archive was acquired by the Library from Jeff Towns, an antiquarian bookseller based in Swansea who, for many years, has actively collected books, photographs, manuscripts, and other materials compiled by, or relating to, Dylan Thomas. Included are scripts, correspondence, programmes and papers relating to the publication of Under Milk Wood, and radio, stage and film productions of the play, 1953-2005, together with letters by Dylan Thomas, and the letters and papers of his wife Caitlin, their three children and his parents, 1935-2007.   Some of the items from this Collection can be seen in the Library’s multi-media exhibition (, an unique opportunity (until 20 December 2014) to celebrate the life and work of this iconic Welsh literary figure.


Early drafts, including words, phrases, and a list of possible verse forms, written by Dylan Thomas whilst composing the unfinished poem ‘Elegy’ to his father in 1953.


The three remaining archives recently added to the Online Catalogue are the product of organizations or businesses, rather than individuals. Firstly, the Welsh Music Information Centre Manuscripts and Papers, containing a large number of music scores by numerous Welsh composers including Alun Hoddinott, J. R. Heath, Arwel Hughes and Ian Parrott; secondly, Roberts & Evans, Aberystwyth (Solicitors) Records, comprising both office and clients’ papers, and containing valuable information on numerous families and estates, mainly in Cardiganshire; and thirdly, the Wynnstay Estate Records, comprising the estate and family records, 1183-1946, of the influential Wynn and Williams Wynn family of Wynnstay, Denbighshire, who owned land throughout North Wales. Not only does this archive contain records relating to the day-to-day administration of the estate, such as title deeds, rentals and accounts, but also includes family and estate correspondence; antiquarian, legal and literary manuscripts; a group of early charters and deeds, 1183-1676, from the Cistercian Abbey of Strata Marcella near Welshpool, Montgomeryshire; account rolls of Sir Richard Wynn, Treasurer to Queen Henrietta Maria, 1627-1649; together with manorial and legal records, and parliamentary election papers. Few other estate archives at this Library contain such diverse records of interest to a wide range of users, and it is hoped that the mammoth task of arranging and listing such a large archive (182 boxes and 591 volumes) has helped to unlock its potential to present and future users.


‘Wynne Stay, seat of Sir Watkins Williams Wynne’ by John Ingleby, (1749-1808)


Sir Cyril Fox Papers

Jonah Jones Papers

Roberts & Evans, Aberystwyth (Solicitors) Records

Jeff Towns (Dylan Thomas) Collection

Welsh Music Information Centre (WMIC) Manuscripts and Papers

Wynnstay Estate Records


Alwyn Roberts

Posted - 10-07-2014 No Comments

ArAgor / Collections

A great start for #ArAgor

There was a great response to our #ArAgor research project when it was mentioned in my presentation at Digital Innovation Week Wales event in Cardiff on Monday. The project looks at how we demonstrate and measure the value and impact of sharing digital collections openly.

Some have asked for more details about what we are looking for. Here are some types of information that would be of interest:

  • examples of ways in which digital collections (single items, sets or whole collections) have been used after being freed of restrictions (e.g. derivative products or works, applications or services based open collections);
  • outputs of research into the open access business model and how it compares with more closed models;
  • ways of demonstrating the value and impact of making digital collections open (e.g. measuring and – if possible – putting a value on brand exposure and reputation)
  • tools or approaches to finding out how digital collections are being used once they have been made open (e.g. reverse image searching)

Please let us know if you have any information to share with us! You can comment on the blog posts, tweet using the #ArAgor hashtag, or you can email us at

Posted - 07-07-2014 No Comments


Pennant’s ‘History of Whiteford and Holywell’

Picture 013


The Library recently acquired a very fine copy of Thomas Pennant’s History of Whiteford and Holywell  1796. Of all his topographical works this is, to my mind, the most intimate and personal. He begins the volume talking of his mansion Downing as the place where he ‘first made entrance into this busy world’. What follows is a piece of delightfully understated family history and legend which leads us into the main theme of the text.
Pennant had the ability to portray his subject in vivid prose, so when combined with the polished watercolours of Moses Griffith any work would be a success. In this volume, purchased at Bonhams, New Bond Street on 19 June 2013 (lot 200) we have a revelation: it includes full page watercolours signed and dated by the artist almost every time as 1795. The watercolours were produced on single sheets then pasted into the volume, forming extra-illustrations to the text. This method of illustration, known as Grangerisation was very popular at the period and the Pennant volume represents a high point in that craft. Although curious to say there is one page (after p122) which bears a watercolour by Moses painted directly on the bound paper. Things are never straight-forward with Pennant.
Why am I so excited by this volume?  Because it is clear evidence of  the patronage of Moses by a contemporary of Pennant. We know that the artist undertook commissions for individuals but here we can study how that was constructed. I will leave the quest for that patron for someone else but say that Moses’s contribution to antiquarian works of the late 18th century in Wales was immense. Now we can study this volume beside the Downing copies, produced for Pennant himself and perhaps find some answers.

Dr Paul Joyner

Posted - 06-07-2014 No Comments

ArAgor / Collections

Research project measuring the value and impact of open digital collections kicks off!



What is the impact of sharing digital collections openly? What value is open access generating for the user, for wider society and the economy and for the organisation sharing its collections? How can the value and impact of open digital collections be measured?

These are some of the questions that we’ll be seeking to answer in a research project entitled #ArAgor launched as part of the National Library’s research programme.

If you are also interested in discovering answers to these questions, and if you have any experiences, information or evidence that may contribute to this project, please join us by including #ArAgor in your tweets and posts on this subject or contacting us on

Posted - 04-07-2014 No Comments

Reader Services

History of the Welsh regiments in World War One

The centenary commemoration programme to remember World War One has already began in Wales and further afield. During the next few years it has been anticipated that more and more people will have an interest in this area, therefore, we decided to place a series of books on the open shelves in the North Reading Room in order to help the researchers. The three Welsh Regiments will probably be of most interest to our readers – The Welsh Regiment, The Royal Welch Fusiliers and The South Wales Borderers. The series of books outlining the history of the regiments and their work during World War One, with additional works relating to other Welsh battalions are now on the shelves. I’m sure that there will be many more works produced on the subject over the next few years and we hope to add them to the series. If you have any suggestions for publications we should add please let us know.

Beryl Evans
Research Services Manager


Posted - 26-06-2014 No Comments

Reader Services

Responding to our users comments

We have responded to comments for a more streamlined service when using newspapers at the National Library of Wales by making it possible to access all formats of newspapers in one reading room.
You can now view original copies, microfilm copies and access our new resource, Welsh Newspapers Online, in one dedicated area in the South Reading Room. Staff are on hand to assist you in your search, and to help you to use our new interactive touch table to access Welsh Newspapers Online.
Call in to see us!

Carol Edwards, Head of Reader Services

Posted - 23-06-2014 No Comments


The Fly Fisher’s Legacy

Picture 269After several attempts the Library succeeded recently in purchasing a very rare item that has been on our wants list for many years. It is a copy of The Fly-Fishers Legacy, containing accurate descriptions of all the principal natural flies … by George Scotcher. This volume was published in Chepstow and printed and sold by M. Willett. Although it is undated experts believe that 1810 or 1819 are possible publishing dates. It is bound in a later travel pocket style binding with front fold over flap and has hand-coloured engraved specimen frontis plates. This copy is copy is extra illustrated, possibly by the noted angling collector J.C. Lynn, and interleaved with 13 leaves containing 23 mounted fly specimens. The Fly Fisher’s Legacy is one of the rarest books in angling literature.

Picture 270It is known that there are copies held at Harvard, Yale and Princeton. No doubt that there are a few other copies in private hands. It was the first angling book to contain a coloured plate illustrating some of the insects imitated by anglers. Also it was the first angling book devoted entirely to fly-fishing. Once this item has been accessioned it will be available to readers interested in this field of study to enjoy as well as to carry out further research. I am glad to say that another small but significant gap in the Library’s holdings has been filled.

Gwyn Tudur Davies

Posted - 17-06-2014 No Comments


Chaucer: the story continues!

The pilgrimage is at an end, the covers are gently closed, and our popular exhibition on Chaucer and the Canterbury Tales has finished.

Are you one of those who missed the opportunity to see the show, or did you think of returning for another look, and left it too late? Fear not, for the Library’s exhibitions now have an extended life on the web.

A short film was created to coincide with the exhibition, and we can think of no better way to re-visit Canterbury than in the company of a curator, and from your own comfortable chair in the twenty-first century.





Posted - 16-06-2014 No Comments

News and Events

Welsh Newspapers Online: 100,000 new pages go online

The National Library of Wales is pleased to announce that over 100,000 new pages have been added to Welsh Newspapers Online.


Welsh Newspapers Online is a free online resource from the National Library of Wales where you can discover millions of articles from the Library’s rich collection of historical newspapers.


Welsh Newspapers Online now lets you search and access over 725,000 pages from over 115 newspaper publications and will grow to over 1 million pages as more publications are added during 2014.


The recent update includes new publications such as Y Tyst, Welsh Gazette and Herald of Wales, not forgetting early editions of Seren Gomer (1814-1815). Seren Gomer was founded by Joseph Harris in 1814 and was the first Welsh language weekly to be published in Wales.


Welsh Newspapers Online is part-funded by the Strategic Capital Investment Fund and the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.


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A blog about the work and collections of the National Library of Wales.

Due to the more personal nature of blogs it is the Library's policy to publish postings in the original language only. An equal number of blog posts are published in both Welsh and English, but they are not the same postings. For a translation of the blog readers may wish to try facilities such as Google Translate.

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