Posted - 18-07-2016 No Comments

Collections / Exhibitions

(Mametz): Aled Rhys Hughes & David Jones

Saturday saw the opening of our newest exhibition, (Mametz): Aled Rhys Hughes & David Jones.

On 10 July 1916, during the Battle of Mametz, nearly 4,000 soldiers of the 38th Welsh Division were killed, wounded or declared missing.  In 1937 this forest was the focus of David Jones’ experimental poem, In Parenthesis, an account of his own harrowing experiences in the battle.

Inspired by this important landscape in Welsh history, as well as David Jones’ seminal work, photographer Aled Rhys Hughes has tried to answer the question: does this landscape have a memory of what happened here one hundred years ago?  And if it does, is it possible to photograph that?

According to Aled, “In the annual July visits I tried to imbue my images with what I saw, felt and heard whilst walking through the dense undergrowth, the open central ride or the angular, shell laden remains of Strip trench.  Some of the images were made as direct responses to words and phrases from In Parenthesis, others to named places, however they all pertain to deal with the notion of landscape and memory, the ever-enduring theme in my work.”

Along with Aled’s striking images of the forest, the exhibition also showcases items from David Jones’ archive here at the Library, including a hand-drawn map of Mametz Wood, manuscript drafts of In Parenthesis and a newly acquired letter from David Jones to Anthony Powell in which he discusses genealogical researches and the ancient history of Wales in general, before looking back to the Great War and the events of Part 7 of In Parenthesis.

For more information on the exhibition and related events click here.


Mari Elin Jones (Interpretation Officer)
Much of my work is researching the Library’s fascinating and varied collections, interpreting them in new and engaging ways and presenting them through our many exhibitions.  


Posted - 06-07-2016 No Comments

Collections / Digitisation

Richard Wilson, ‘Catherine Jones of Colomendy’

Welsh artist Richard Wilson of Penegoes, near Machynlleth mid Wales was a pioneer of British landscape painting but as can be seen in this work he was also a highly skilled portraitist. Although it isn’t recorded that he underwent any formal schooling he had a great knowledge of the classics which had a great influence on his works. It was in 1729 that he moved to London to train as a portraitist. Wilson would have created this early work from ca. 1740 of Catherine Jones of Colomendy shortly after his apprenticeship of six years under the portraitist Thomas Wright had come to an end. The sitter was the artist’s cousin and owner of Colomendy Hall, near Llanferres, Denbighshire. Colomendy Hall would be the place where Richard Wilson would tragically die in poverty and relative obscurity in May, 1782 and where the sitter herself would die four years later. As art historian David. H. Solkin argued that all of the portraits he painted during this period prior to his trip to Italy ‘…broadly adheres to the manner of the leading London masters of the period, such as Thomas Hudson and Allan Ramsay’. This work is of interest therefore for it is one of the last portraits he would have created before his departure to Italy where he re-directed his efforts towards becoming one of the greatest landscape artists of his time.

He returned to London in 1757 where he established himself as a landscape artist of the classical, grande style of Italian views and classical literary landscapes at a studio in the Great Piazza, Covent Garden. This grew into a prosperous business which had a number of apprentices- one of these being the famous Welsh artist Thomas Jones (1742-1803). Wilson shortly after this became one of the founder members of the Royal Academy of Arts. One of Wilson’s greatest achievements was that he opened his artistic contemporaries’ eyes to the majestic magnificence of his home country of Wales leading the way for generations of future artists to explore and record its wonder. In the mid 1760s he painted Snowndon from Llyn Nantlle, Caernarfon Castle and Cader Idris as well as views of South Wales. A sketch for the work Conwy Castle created by Wilson from mid 18th century also forms part of our collection here at the National Library of Wales. As the art historian Peter Lord stated: ‘His painting is placed as a contributor to the growth of the Welsh landscape as an icon representing the National Soul’.

This painting is part of the Europeana 280 initiative, that involved the 28 European Ministries of Culture working with their national cultural institutions to select at least 10 paintings that represented their country’s contribution to Europe’s art history.

For more information see our Digital Gallery

Posted - 23-06-2016 No Comments

Collections / Digitisation / Research

The life and times of Mr Herbert Ellerby: Linking Llandudno, Lancashire, and Moggill, Australia

A guest post by the National Library’s Wikidata Visiting Scholar

More than three-quarters of the 4,800 prints in the Welsh Landscape Collection have now been added to Wikidata as part of the Linking Landscapes project, which was launched in April. The goal of this project is to create high quality Wikidata for the entire collection, with every print being represented by an item in the database and linked with other items by statements that capture the characteristics of each work. In order to achieve this goal, metadata for the collection have been converted into statements that are comprised of Wikidata properties and values, thus forming links between the prints and other entities in the database. The properties correspond to metadata elements, such as title, description, artist, publisher, date, medium etc., and the values can record temporal or quantitative data, such as publication date and dimensions, or can link to related Wikidata items. These items can be the people involved in creating and distributing the prints, such as artists, engravers, printers and publishers, production methods like etching, aquatint and mezzotint engraving, subjects depicts, for example geographic locations, and descriptors of image content, which can include objects, concepts and activities.

After the initial process of assigning a Wikidata property to each metadata element and structuring the metadata in a spreadsheet so that it was in a suitable format to upload via the Quick Statements tool, it was possible to replace a large amount of the semantic metadata with the Qxx number of the corresponding Wikidata item. Metadata for approximately 3,000 prints were fully converted into Wikidata statements in this manner, which enabled the project to progress quickly. Lists were generated of the geographic locations/features, artists, and publishers that remained in their semantic form due to either the absence of an equivalent Wikidata item or lack of necessary information to identify and/or disambiguate them.

Most of the publishers have now been identified using a combination of the Virtual International Authority File (VIAF) and British Book Trade Index (BBTI) databases and the information, such as addresses, contained within the prints themselves. In many cases, the publishers and artists overlap, particularly where the publisher is a lithographic printer or print seller for example, and the same resources, along with Benezit Dictionary of Artists, have, therefore, also been valuable for identifying and describing artists and engravers in the collection. The information gathered from these sources has been used to create Wikidata items for some 150 publishers and, if possible, a statement containing the VIAF identifier has been used to link these data to existing authority files. In the instances where a publisher does not have an entry in either VIAF or BBTI, it has been necessary to conduct further research to identify them, drawing on a range of digitised newspapers, directories, books and documents. Bring together the information available in range of dispersed sources has the potential produce interesting, and somewhat unexpected, results, as the example below shows.

The Library of Congress’ copy of the fourth edition of John Hicklin’s The hand-book to Llandudno has been digitised and we find, bound in the back of it, sixteen pages of publisher’s advertisements under the title Catherall and Prichard’s hand-book to Llandudno. Although Catherall & Prichard were co-publishers of this book and, as stated in the colophon, they were also responsible for its printing, the mere presence of the colophon before these extra pages and the change in running head confirm that they are not part of Hicklin’s work. This well disguised supplement was included by Catherall & Prichard, who evidently seized the opportunity to increased their earnings on this title by selling advertising space to local traders, thus providing them with a medium through which they could promote their establishments to an audience of Victorian tourists who purchased this travel guide, which had been published in London, Chester and Bangor, before or during their visit to the Queen of Welsh Resorts, Llandudno. These advertisements are a valuable source of information concerning several of the publishers in the Welsh Landscape Collection.

The firm Catherall & Prichard, comprised of the Chester bookmen Thomas Catherall and George Prichard, was itself responsible for publishing around eighteen of the prints during their partnership; Catherall also issued nearly one hundred prints under his name alone. At the foot of the third page of Catherall & Prichard’s hand-book, William Bridge (1808-86), a bookseller and stationer based in Conwy, who published around fifteen of the prints in the collection, advertises the Llandudno branch of his circulating library which, in addition to lending books for a fee, offered visitors to the town a selection of newspapers from London and the provinces every Saturday, presumably received in the weekly delivery of books and periodicals that he received from London. Indeed, Bridge’s Llandudno premises seems to have catered for the tourist market, which flourished after the town was connected to the railway network in 1858, with ‘views’, i.e. prints and photographs, and hats, both straw and fancy, for ladies and children amongst his range of souvenirs. On the very same page is the advertisement of another bookseller, Herbert Ellerby (1817-95). Unlike Bridge, who lived and worked in Conwy all his life, Ellerby was new in town.

Herbert Ellerby was born in York, the fourth born child of William (1771-1839) and Martha (1783-1859). His father was a shoemaker in Leeds until he became a travelling agent for the Religious Tract Society, and it was due to the responsibilities of this role that the birthplaces of his six children were distributed between Leeds, York and Whitby. The family crossed the Pennines when William Ellerby established a Religious Tract Society bookshop at 31 Piccadilly, Manchester and it was here that Herbert cut his teeth in the book trade. After William Ellerby died on 6 July 1839, Herbert supported his mother, who had signalled her intention to carry on trading from the Religious Tract Repository in the Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser of 20 July 1839. Shortly after the Repository had relocated to Market Street in 1842, the booksellers were trading as M. Ellerby and Son, an acknowledgement of Herbert’s role in the business, and their advertisements were a regular feature in the Manchester Guardian, until the announcement of their closing down sale appeared in the 17 March 1849 issue of the same newspaper.

Three months later, Herbert Ellerby and his wife Sarah, who he married in 1845, their daughter Maria, and Mrs Ellerby senior were the only cabin passengers on board the Lima when it set sail from Whence, London for the four month journey to Port Jackson, Australia. The crossing does not appear to have been entirely to Ellerby’s satisfaction. In a letter, published in the Sydney Morning Herald, 31 December 1849, he recounted how ‘many of the passengers … [were] victimized to a considerable extent’ and described ‘the conduct of Dr [John Dunmore] Lang’, who chartered the Lima, ‘as cruel and unjust in the extreme’. It seems that his discontent did not end there, for the Moreton Bay Courier reported that Ellerby had sued two of his fellow passengers in a dispute over the conveyance of his luggage. After a bad start to his life down under, Ellerby completed the purchase of fifty-five acres of land at Moggill, Brisbane, for fifty-five pounds, in March 1851. It was reported that he planned to use fourteen acres to grow cotton. It is possible that he was successful in this venture, since on 20 January 1855, the Cheshire Observer and General Advertiser noted that a warehouse in Todd Street, Manchester belonging to Herbert Ellerby had burnt down, destroying cotton with a value of £60. The Ellerbys had sailed back to London in March 1854, with two additional members, daughters Jessie and Francis who were born during their time in Australia.

Herbert and Sarah Ellerby arrived Llandudno their three daughters and his mother, during the summer of 1856 and established a bookshop, known as the Central Library, at Tudno House, Church Walks where they had taken up residence. Ellerby’s time in the town is well documented by the advertising and directory listings in The North Wales Chronicle and Advertiser for the Principality, which reveal that he was lending books for a penny per day in 1858, when his first promotional material appeared. In the 24 July 1858 Chronicle we find Ellerby’s announcing a recently published ‘1s. packet of Llandudno Views’, which he ‘offered at 9d’. It is possible that this packet contained some of the prints in the Welsh Landscape Collection, which were engraved by Rock & Co., and published by H. Ellerby in late August and early September 1857. Amongst these five prints, there is one that is distinguished by an initial W., partially erased but not replaced with an H., leaving a gap before the family name. On another print, we find the name W. Ellerby intact, an indication that Herbert’s elder brother, the printer and publisher William Porter Ellerby (1812-81), who was based in Manchester, had some connection to the business in Llandudno.

By June 1859, Ellerby’s Central Library had relocated to new premises on Mostyn Street, as depicted in prints by Day & Son (above) and W. Banks & Son, and he was now offering ‘a great variety of stereoscopic slides … [and] photographs of Welsh scenery’, in addition to his standard range of views, maps and guide books. Indeed, Ellerby seemed determined to cater to even the niche tourist markets and he announced in the Carnarvon and Denbigh Herald and North and South Wales Independent of 11 June 1959 that he had published J.M. Coley’s Medical guide for visitors at Llandudno, which he would post to anywhere in the United Kingdom for seven penny postage stamps. Facing competition from two other libraries in the town, Ellerby strived to make his new bookshop the premier haunt for the literary holidaymakers, and he bolstered his own list by offering ‘a selection from Mudie’. If any confirmation is required of just how enticing the town’s libraries were to its visitors, it is provided by Mr Morrell, who advertised his boarding house on Church Walks as ‘situated within three minutes’ walk of the public baths, libraries, and promenade’. But relations between the competing librarians must have, on the whole, remained amiable, for Ellerby published a series of photographic views in collaboration with the postmaster Mr Powell and one of his rivals, Mr Stavely, who could offer his subscribers, in addition to his library stocked with Mudie’s books, a reading and news room, billiards, and warm or cold showers and baths. This innovative combination was apparently not a success and the enterprise was wound up in July 1862. The original premises of the Public Baths, occupying the site of the present-day Grand Hotel, can be seen in one of the prints published Ellerby.

On 14 July 1859, Martha Ellerby died, aged 76. In the years that followed, Herbert Ellerby focused his energy on the Central Library, with his advertisements increasing in both size and number as he promoted his latest publications and new products. However, the loss of his youngest daughter, Henrietta, aged 17 months, on 15 November 1862 seems to have sapped the ambition from Ellerby. He ceased advertising entirely during 1863 and even in the following year those advertisement that carried his name were limited to new titles that listed the booksellers in the town who had stock on hand. Then, on 4 February 1865, an advert appeared in The North Wales Chronicle offering ‘For immediate disposal, A bookseller and stationer’s business, the best in the Town, and thoroughly established.’ Although, Ellerby does not elucidate his reasons for selling, he does reveal that ‘the time is limited’ and states sufficient reasons for the relinquishment will be given. Tantalisingly we are not privy to that information, but it seems probable that his hand was forced by events elsewhere. The London Gazette, 10 February 1865 documents the dissolution of a partnership between one William Porter Ellerby and Frederick Augustus Banks, who were advertising agents operating as Ellerby and Company, on the very same day that the Central Library was put up for sale. The extent to which Herbert Ellerby was exposed to the debts incurred by this concern is not known, but he found a buyer for his business within a month and the only further details of his departure from Llandudno are provided by George Felton of the Mostyn Estate Office, who had been instructed to sell Ellerby’s remaining belongings, household goods including his furniture and carpets, by auction at the Central Library on 14 March.

Ellerby left Llandudno with his family in the spring of 1865 and worked as a bookseller in Sandbach, Cheshire, for some years before moving to Manchester where he lived with his daughters. On 26 April 1895, Herbert Ellerby was admitted to Manchester’s Withington Workhouse, and died there a few weeks later on the 9 May. He is buried in Brooklands Cemetery, Sale, Cheshire, alongside his wife Sarah, and daughters Ethel and Marion. Even though Herbert Ellerby spent less than a decade in Llandudno, he is linked to the town by the prints and books that were published at the Central Library and the output his marketing campaign.

Hopefully, as the remaining items from the Welsh Landscape Collection are added to Wikidata more details will emerge about the artists and engravers who created these prints and the printers, publishers, booksellers and other traders who disseminated them. The activities of some of these individuals are not well documented so it will be fascinating to see if queries in Wikidata can reveal links between their work and others in the book and print trades in Britain during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. And even if no connections are discovered in the course of this project all is not lost because there is always the potential for a Wikidata item to link with another item in the future when more collections are added to the database.

Simon Cobb

Volunteer Wikidata Visiting Scholar

National Library of wales

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Posted - 22-06-2016 No Comments


UNESCO recognition for one of the Library’s treasures

Yesterday evening at the Senedd eight new pieces of documentary heritage were inscribed on the UNESCO Memory of the World UK Register. The only item from Wales to be included was The Survey of the Manors of Crickhowell & Tretower by Robert Johnson (1587), held here at the National Library of Wales.


This survey is a part of the Badminton Collection held in the Library’s Map Collection. Like many other such estate surveys of the period it includes a textual description of the estate, its extent, its properties and tenants; unlike most other surveys this survey also includes a set of maps produced as part of the survey. This is the earliest example of a grand estate atlas designed as a coherent volume of decorative estate maps.





The survey contains the earliest extant set of estate maps for Wales and is a unique record of the locality at a particular point in time; its significance lies in the fact that it is the earliest example of its type in existence and therefore acts as a precursor to all later surveys which include maps, most of which did not appear until two centuries later.


At the ceremony, the Librarian Linda Tomos spoke about the Library and I was privileged to be able to give a presentation about the survey to the audience, which included the First Minister Carwyn Jones, who then presented the awards to each institution, including ours, which was collected by the President Rhodri Glyn Thomas.



If you want to see the volume, it is on display in the Peniarth exhibition space for the next few days and the digital version is available on the Library’s website.



Huw Thomas
Map Curator

Posted - 20-06-2016 No Comments

Collections / Exhibitions

A Taste of the 56 Group Wales: 60 Years of the Avant-Garde

Logo designed by Eric Malthouse for the 56 Group’s first exhibition at Worcester Museum & Art Gallery, 1957

Logo designed by Eric Malthouse for the 56 Group’s first exhibition at Worcester Museum & Art Gallery, 1957


The 56 Group Wales is a professional artists’ association whose primary aim is the exhibition and promotion of contemporary Welsh art and artists.  Established in 1956 simply as the ’56 Group’ by founder members Eric Malthouse, David Tinker and Michael Edmonds, ‘Wales’ was added to the name in 1967 and its Welsh-language title – Grŵp 56 Cymru – first publicly utilised in 1976. During its sixty-year history, the Group has exhibited widely not only within Wales but also in numerous venues throughout the British Isles and further afield in Europe.


The striking 1967 Group logo, now with ‘Wales’ added to the name

The striking 1967 Group logo, now with ‘Wales’ added to the name


In 1976, the 56 Group Wales published a book entitled The Artist And How To Employ Him, with contributions from Group members and edited by Arthur Giardelli, who served as chairman of the Group from 1961 to 1998.  Many years later, in 2012, a comprehensive illustrated history of the Group was published by author and art curator David Moore and artist Sue Hiley Harris under the title A Taste of the Avant-Garde: 56 Group Wales 56 Years.


The National Library of Wales is currently hosting an exhibition to celebrate sixty years of the 56 Group Wales.  Showcasing the Group’s diverse artistic output over the past six decades, the exhibition includes artworks, photographs, letters and posters, as well as an audio-visual recording of the 1983 HTV programme Where The Tide Turned: A Portrait of the 56 Group Wales.

l-r: Founder members Arthur Giardelli and David Tinker, Frederick Elwyn Jones (Lord Elwyn-Jones) and Group secretary Mary Griffiths attending the opening of the 25th anniversary exhibition at the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff in 1981.

l-r: Founder members Arthur Giardelli and David Tinker, Frederick Elwyn Jones (Lord Elwyn-Jones) and Group secretary Mary Griffiths attending the opening of the 25th anniversary exhibition at the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff in 1981.


Mary Lloyd Jones, the first female member to be elected to the 56 Group Wales, in 1973, and Lord Elwyn-Jones at the opening of the Group’s 25th anniversary exhibition at the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, with Mary’s cotton-dye work Clouds over the Landscape (1981)

Mary Lloyd Jones, the first female member to be elected to the 56 Group Wales, in 1973, and Lord Elwyn-Jones at the opening of the Group’s 25th anniversary exhibition at the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, with Mary’s cotton-dye work Clouds over the Landscape (1981)


In addition, the 56 Group/56 Group Wales archive, carefully preserved by long-serving Group secretary Mary Griffiths and meticulously put in order by David Moore and Sue Hiley Harris, is currently in the process of being catalogued at the Library.  Once completed, the archive will form a valuable document of the Group’s history spanning over half a century from its instigation in 1956 to its more recent incarnation in 2012, providing ample evidence of how the 56 Group Wales played such a major role in raising the status of the professional artist in Wales and in stimulating discussion about contemporary art.


A lunchtime lecture by the exhibition’s curator David Moore will take place on Wednesday 22 June.


Bethan Ifan (Assistant Archivist)


Posted - 16-06-2016 No Comments

Collections / Digitisation

Benjamin West, ‘Dr Richard Price’

Benjamin West was a powerfully expressive history painter born in Springfield, Pennsylvania in 1738. West from a young age had great self-belief and felt he was predestined for fame. He began as a self-taught portrait painter in Pennsylvania but was soon commissioned to depict historical scenes. With the assistance of the Anglican Minister Revd. William Smith he travelled Italy where he was well received as a protégé and which resulted in him travelling to London and becoming historical painter to King George III in 1772. In London he became known as the ‘American Raphael’. He became best known for his history paintings of the neo-classical tradition. In 1792 he became second president of the Royal Academy after he had played an instrumental role in obtaining patronage for the Academy. His most famous work ‘The Death of General Wolfe’ from 1770 was ground-breaking as it was a history painting which also incorporated elements of Romanticism and Realism. Through this work he successfully managed to revive an interest in the genre which came to be known as modern history painting. He was later commissioned to create works for Windsor Castle and for St. George’s Chapel which led to further commissions within the religious community. He became known as the premier painter of religious subjects in England.

It is therefore plain to see why West was chosen to paint this portrait of Dr. Richard Price. Dr Richard Price was a great Welsh moral philosopher, preacher and mathematician. He was also a nonconformist who had a deep interest in politics. He was born in Llangeinor, Glamorgan, South Wales but worked and lived most of his life in London. Dr. Richard Price is shown in his study, reading a letter dated 1784 from Benjamin Frankin, who was a close friend of Price for many years. Price wrote in his short-hand journal of his sitting for this portrait and this journal is now held in the National Library of Wales’ collections. (NLW MS 20721A). This portrait is the only official image of this highly important moral philosopher although another two other versions do exist.

This painting is part of the Europeana 280 initiative, that involved the 28 European Ministries of Culture working with their national cultural institutions to select at least 10 paintings that represented their country’s contribution to Europe’s art history.

For more information see our Digital Gallery.

Posted - 13-06-2016 No Comments

Collections / Exhibitions / News and Events

Fron-goch: supplying books for the revolution

Some 1,800 Irish men were held without trial after the 1916 Easter Rising at an internment camp in Fron-goch, North Wales. Their well-organized activities at the camp led to it becoming known as the ollscoil na réabhlóide (‘university of revolution’), as languages, crafts, military organization and theory were taught by prisoners to their fellow inmates. However, it is only recently that the National Library of Wales’s connection to Fron-goch has come to light.

In July 1916, John Ballinger, The National Librarian, entered into correspondence with a prisoner held at South Camp, Fron-goch.  James Johnston, ‘Prisoner No. 360’, had been ‘one of the suspects recently arrested in Ireland under the Defence of the Realm Act’ and was writing ‘under circumstance of personal difficulty’. He was interested in Irish place-names, and following an enquiry, obtained from Ballinger a bibliography of Irish, Welsh and Scottish place names for further study. Having studied that list, Johnston requested two further favours from the National Librarian. Firstly, the loan of a book from the Library at Aberystwyth (Iago Emlyn’s An Essay on the Philosophical Construction of Celtic Nomenclature, 1869); and secondly, some Welsh printed books, for

‘ … a number of the prisoners here are very much interested in Welsh on account of its relationship to Irish, especially as we have a number of native and fluent speakers of Irish here and they are desirous of organizing a class … I have myself Practical Lessons in Welsh by William Spurrell (1888) and The Elements of Welsh Grammar by Samuel J. Evans.’

John Ballinger can hardly have shared many of the Irish rebel’s political aspirations. Nine months earlier, he had lost his son Harry at The Front in France, and was channeling his grief into collecting Welsh books for dispatch to the civilian British prisoners interned at Ruhleben near Berlin. How was he to respond to the Irish republican’s request from Fron-goch?

Surprisingly, perhaps, he lent the Library’s copy of Iago Emlyn’s book which, following a period of misplacement, was finally returned to Aberystwyth in September 1916. Remarkably, he also sent to Fron-goch a Welsh Bible and four Welsh New Testaments for use by the learners, ‘part of a stock which was obtained in order to supply books to Welshmen at the camp at Ruhleben’, and which Johnston acknowledged were ‘very acceptable and will be much appreciated by the members of our class’.

The correspondence drew to a close at the end of September 1916, and the Irish prisoners were re-patriated before the end of the year. But what of James Johnston, ‘Prisoner No. 360’? Was he the Belfast resident of that name killed in 1917 as part of further struggles for Irish independence? What became of the courteous scholar of language who had turned to the National Library of Wales for succour during his days of confinement?

Maredudd ap Huw

James Johnston’s letters may be seen in the Library’s special exhibition – Irish Voices – between 17 and 20 June, coinciding with the Gregynog Festival’s visit to Aberystwyth on Saturday, 18 June.

Posted - 09-06-2016 No Comments


Into the Archives: A celebration of archives in Wales

Archives help to tell the story of our past and preserve our collective memory and cultural identity.

The archive sector in Wales comprises:

  • 13 local authority archive services (record offices) including 3 joint services, with 15 service points
  • 5 higher education archive services
  • The National Library of Wales
  • Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales
  • The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales (RCAHMW)

These organisations work together through the strategic partnership body Archives and Records Council Wales (ARCW) to deliver all-Wales developmental projects.  To find your nearest archive and more about the work they do please download a copy of our new publication-Into the Archives from the Archives Wales website :

Helen Palmer, Chair, Archives and Records Council Wales says, “The Cynefin project is just one great example of archive and records teams all over Wales working together to make available the precious documents that represent our, and our nation’s shared history. “

Films released showing the history and heritage of the landscape of Wales

 Two new films exploring the transformation of Wales’ landscape and the impact on people’s lives have just been released by the Cynefin project to celebrate International Archives Day on 9th June.

 In the 1840’s a series of maps was commissioned to assist in organising the payments of tithes. These tithe maps capture virtually the whole of Wales and together create a snapshot of our nation on the cusp of transformation. The Cynefin Project is conserving, digitising and exploring these maps to make the treasure trove of information they contain available to anyone, online, for free.

One of the films focuses on the railway network. The tithe maps show the fledgling railway network as it starts to snake across the landscape, but this was not the passenger network we are familiar with today. These new connections changed the fortunes of many towns. The line under construction on these maps would eventually link the docks of Cardiff to the iron and coal industry of Merthyr. This trade relationship would go on to transform Cardiff from the small town that existed in the 1800’s to the capital city of Wales.

 The people and culture of Wales are deeply entwined with our landscape, but our relationship with the land and the way we use it have changed dramatically over the centuries. The other film tells the story of our changing culture through place names and we can travel back through time to understand the lives and concerns of people who lived centuries ago.

Einion Gruffudd, Cynefin’s Project Manager said: “We’re excited to release these videos on International Archives Day.  It’s the perfect day to celebrate our nation’s heritage and the wonderful historical collections which can be discovered in archives all over Wales. Tithe maps tell the story of our ancestors, and in turn contribute towards our own personal and collective identity here in Wales.”

The Cynefin project is eager to get the people of Wales involved in transcribing the tithe maps and their associated tithe apportionment documents which name the landowners, land occupiers, land use and field names . This will help create an innovative and comprehensive online research tool for people to access and search through.

To view the Cynefin films and find out more about the project and volunteering opportunities, visit

 Nia Mai Daniel

Head of Archives and Manuscripts Section

(Secretary ARCW)




Posted - 1 Comment


Volunteers Week

John McMahon lives just outside Aberystwyth and has been part of the National Library of Wales’ Volunteering programme for 18 months. He tends to commit a day and a half every week. He has been learning Welsh for the last six years and finds volunteering really helps with this.

“I saw that the Library was looking for volunteers to catalogue and record the condition of a series of old, large scale Ordnance Survey maps and as I am a bit of a map addict it immediately looked like the ideal job.

“I have had Crohn’s Disease, for the last fifteen years or so, but in recent times my health has stabilised and I also wanted to find a way of re-engaging with the world of work and of giving something back to the community. Volunteering was the perfect way to do this without putting an undue amount of pressure on either myself or an employer which may have resulted in a backward step health-wise.

“As a child I would follow car journeys in the road atlas as we made our way across the country, and now whenever I plan to go anywhere the first thing I do is get the maps out, with a little bit of cartographic knowledge and a chunk of imagination it becomes second nature to visualise the landscape laid out on a sheet of paper on the kitchen table.

“I studied Geography and Geology, both of which allowed me to wallow further in a world of lines and symbols, to explore the world without even leaving the sofa! The author Mike Parker described all of this better that I ever could in his ‘Map Addict’ book – reading that left me with a feeling that he had been reading my diary.

“The maps are very detailed and a full set would consist of four editions covering the period from the 1840’s through to the 1940’s – thus giving a clear understanding of how areas have either developed over time, or in some cases remained relatively unchanged. I also work on the Cynefin Project, which again, involves maps the digitisation and transcription of Tithe maps and their associated ledgers from the whole of Wales in the mid-nineteenth century.

“I have also worked on scanning and recording visual images,, primarily a collection of old 35mm negatives from the Newport Steel Works, and on materials related to the Urdd Goodwill Radio Message throughout the years.

“The National Library is a great place to work –  the staff are always helpful and friendly and I am able to practise my Welsh speaking with a great deal of support, help and advice. The collections and archives are always interesting to engage with, and given such interesting materials to explore, there is never a dull day at the Library.”


Posted - 02-06-2016 No Comments


Welsh football at the National Library

With just over a week to go until Wales begin their Euro 2016 campaign it’s fair to say that the majority of the nation is gearing itself  to support the boys in what will be their first appearance in a major tournament for almost 60 years.  As the excitement level grows, why not re-live some of the good days (as well as the bad!) by browsing through the various collections that we have here at the National Library?

Welsh Newspapers Online

Browse through millions of newspaper pages at our Wales Newspapers Online website to see what football  stories you can find, be it at club or international level.  You’ll find both stories and reports  including the report of Wales’ s first ever international game against Scotland in 1876.


Geoff Charles


Geoff Charles’ contribution to Welsh photography is unique. His approach is characterized by both an innate talent and an empathy for his subjects. He worked as a photojournalist in Wales from the 1930s to the 1970s and was the photographer of record in Welsh-speaking Wales for most of that period. Today his archive is one of the treasures of the National Library of Wales.  Among the thousands of photographs in the collection are various football photographs including those of the Wales national side from the 1950s, dubbed as one of Wales’ golden eras of football, and of  Bangor City  after their   most famous win ever when they defeated Italian giants, Napoli in the 1962 Cup Winners Cup.


Online Exhibition

Visit our online exhibition ‘Welsh Legends’ to see various items from our collections from the footballing world as well as other sports.


Screen and Sound Archive

The aim of the National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales is to preserve, promote and celebrate the sound and moving image heritage of Wales. The Archive is home to a comprehensive and unrivalled collection of films, television programmes, videos, sound and music recordings relating to Wales and the Welsh.  The 1906 match between Wales and Ireland, in what may be the earliest international football match recorded on film; Cardiff City’s victory parade following their 1927 FA Cup triumph; ; Ian Rush’s first goal for Wales; and the official unveiling of the 1976 kit are just some of the material stored in the in the archive.

Football Association of Wales Records, 1893-1986

The National Library of Wales also houses the archive of the FAW from 1893 to 1986.  This collection of 38 volumes and 1 folder comprises mainly  minutes of meetings of the council of the Association and its  various  committees. It also  includes some  other material as well, such as match programmes including the Wales versus Brazil quarter final match in the 1958 World Cup held in Sweden.

Deiniol Glyn

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About this blog

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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