Blog - Events
Last Friday, 2nd of November, The Welsh Political Archive Annual Lecture was delivered by The Revd Dr D. Ben Rees at Y Drwm, The National Library of Wales. The lecture is delivered in Welsh every three years, and the title for this year was ‘Camp Aneurin; y Gwasanaeth Iechyd Gwladol’ [translated as Aneurin’s triumph; the National Health Service in English].
The lecture was an opportunity to mark the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the National Health Service and to acknowledge the magnificent achievement of Aneurin Bevan in all this. With all the tickets sold out before the evening, a great lecture was delivered by D. Ben Rees who traced the relationship of the Minister for Housing, Health and Local Government with the Tredegar Medical Aid Society which gave him a socialist vision to create a National Health Service.
This was the thirty-second public lecture in a celebrated series instituted in 1987. The previous lectures include Lord Kenneth O. Morgan, Lord Roberts of Conwy, Professor Angela V. John and Menna Richards.
Although he has spent the last 50 years in Liverpool, Dr Rees is a native of Llanddewi Brefi, Ceredigion, and is one of the most prominent preachers of his denomination. In addition, he is a well-known lecturer and broadcaster, and is an author of over 70 publications in Welsh and English.
He published a biography in Welsh on Jim Griffiths in 2014, a volume which was well-received as it was the first in Welsh to encompass the life and career of one of the most important political figures in Wales in the second half of the 20th century and the first Secretary of State for Wales. A sister volume was published last summer, which was a comprehensive biography of another political giant in 20th century Wales, Cofiant Cledwyn Hughes.
Interesting questions and a good discussion were had following the lecture, and a vote of thanks was proposed by Rhys Evans, Head of Strategy and Education at BBC Wales, who is a member of The Welsh Political Archive Advisory Committee which met earlier that afternoon.
The lecture is now published on the pages of The Welsh Political Archive (together with lectures of the past fifteen years) on the Library’s website, and a recording of the lecture forms part of The National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales.
D. Rhys Davies
Assistant Archivist, The Welsh Political Archive
Back in March, the Library published the first group of Peniarth Manuscripts to have been digitised as part of an ambitious plan to present the contents of the entire collection online.
This week, as the Library celebrates items and collections which have been inscribed on UNESCO’s UK Memory of the World Register, we announce that images of a further 25 manuscripts from the Peniarth Collection have appeared on our website. They are presented here according to dates of creation:
From the 14th century, we welcome 190, a Welsh manuscript containing religious texts such as Lucidar and Ymborth yr Enaid, together with 328 and 329, two legal manuscripts in Norman-French, with the latter containing the text of Magna Carta.
From the beginning of the 15th century, we welcome the Latin and English religious texts of 334, and from the middle of that century, the work of Petrarch in a Latin manuscript produced at Oxford (336), and the Welsh text of Gwassanaeth Meir (191). An abundant crop from the second half of the century includes Welsh Law (175), a calendar in the hand of Gutun Owain (186), and poems written by Huw Cae Llwyd (189).
A dearth of sources from the first half of the 16th century is followed by an abundant crop from 1550 onwards, including the manuscripts of Roger Morris of Coed-y-talwrn (169), Thomas Evans of Hendreforfudd (187), lexicographer Thomas Wiliems (188), Simwnt Fychan (189), and another version of Gwassanaeth Meir (192). Pedigrees are represented in 193, and medical tracts in 184, 206 and 207.
Robert Vaughan did not neglect contemporary manuscripts, and 17th century examples include a collection of Welsh poetry (184), grammars and vocabularies written by John Jones of Gellilyfdy (295, 296, 302, 304 and 305), and volumes written by Robert Vaughan himself (180 and 185).
Finally, one lonely manuscript of Welsh sermons (324) from the 18th century, possibly the product of Montgomeryshire.
For a complete list of all Peniarth Manuscripts available digitally, consult the dedicated page on our website. Meanwhile, our diligent digitizers continue to work through the collection!
Maredudd ap Huw
Curator of Manuscripts
The National Library of Wales hosts the second Wikipedia languages conference
On July the 5th and 6th, The National Library of Wales hosted the second Celtic Knot Wicipedia Language Conference.
The conference is quite unique in its ambitions – with the focus on how small and minority languages can grow and develop Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects in their language.
Wikipedia has nearly 300 language editions but some have just a hand full of editors and a few thousand articles. The challenges faced by these communities are often very different to those faced by much bigger Wikipedias. The Celtic Knot conference focused on discussing and addressing some of these issues, such as technical support, community building and partnerships.
The conference was attended by 55 delegates from all over the world, with people attending from as far afield as South Africa, Norway, Spain and Germany. The Celtic Nations were well represented too, with delegates from Ireland, Scotland, Cornwall, Brittany and, of course, Wales. We are grateful to the Wikimedia Foundation for funding a number of scholarships which allowed us to help volunteers travel to the event.
Delegates being welcomed to the conference by Jason Evans, National Wikimedian
Day one featured a structured programme of presentations and workshops, and the conference was opened by the Welsh Government Minister for Welsh and Lifelong Learning, Eluned Morgan AM, who spoke very positively of Wikipedia as a means of supporting the development of the Welsh language. And she spoke of the importance of the work that the National Library of wales has done in this area, thanks in part to Welsh Government funding.
Eluned Morgan AM speaking about the value of Wikipedia in giving access to Welsh language information
Wikimedia UK’s Wales manager Robin Owain then spoke, as eloquently as ever, about the growth of the Welsh Wikipedia. The Minister, Robin and several others spoke in Welsh with simultaneous translation and the audience seemed to enjoy listening to the Welsh language, some hearing it for the first time.
We were treated to a number of inspiring presentations and workshops during the day. Ewan MacAndrew of Edinburgh University ran a translation workshop and there were a number of Wikidata talks and workshops led by Lea Lacroix of Wikimedia Deutschland. Presentations highlighting the use of Wikipedia for, or within education were particularly popular, with Aaron Morris of Wici Môn discussing the impact of his work with school children and Koldo Biguri of the Basque Wikimedia user group talking about the Basque Wikipedia for children, or ‘Txikipedia’. The great work of the Basque Wikimedia community in this area was further highlighted by Inaki Lopez deLuzuriaga who spoke about their wider education programme, which is supported by the Basque government.
Pau Cabot of Catalonia talking about using Wikidata to generate infoboxes on Wikipedia
After a long day, delegates were treated to a trip on the Aberystwyth Cliff Railway for food and drinks at Y Consti cafe. The National Library of Wales choir kindly sang us all some traditional Welsh songs before we had a Breton folk dancing lesson!
A group of delegates discussing long into the evening
On the second day we kicked off with the a presentation on the Irish Wikipedia and a journey through language gaps on Wikidata, by the library’s very own Wikidata visiting scholar, Simon Cobb. A personal highlight for me, was a video presentation by Subhanshish Panigrahi, a National Geographics explorer who works with Wikimedia India. His talk focused on the importance of recording and preserving endangered languages, and highlighted an Indian dialect which is has just one serving speaker. For me, this brought home the importance of supporting and encouraging the use of minority languages before their use drops to unsustainable levels.
After lunch we ran an unconference session, where delegates set their own agenda. There were data workshops, strategy discussions, lightning talks and even a tour of the library. Delegates from Cornwall were thrilled to view important Cornish language manuscripts from the library’s collection.
Planning the unconferenced sessions
We all came together again for a productive group discussion before the National Librarian Linda Tomos closed the conference with a brilliant talk about the importance of the National Libraries work with Wikipedia and virtual tour through some of the libraries most treasured and important collections.
Feedback from delegates suggest the conference was a great success, and everyone indicated that they would attend the conference again next year. We will continue to work with interested parties to find a suitable home for the conference next year and Wikimedia Norge have kindly agreed to look at hosting the conference in 2020. We really hope the conference, and the worlds smaller language Wikipedia’s can continue to grow over the coming years, and we thank everyone who was involved in making this years event so successful.
As part of the Seeing Euclid network of exhibitions throughout the UK, the National Library of Wales will display an example of their valuable Euclid collection of books from 7 July to 27 August. The project aims to highlight the legacy of Euclid’s Elements in the early modern period in Britain and Ireland, with displays of books and artefacts from the period. It is curated by the research project Reading Euclid, based at the University of Oxford and funded by the AHRC. The exhibition is a collaboration between nearly thirty institutions across Britain and Ireland.
He compiled the thirteen books of The Elements while working in Alexandria in the third century B.C. His work describes the foundations of Mathematics and dominated the subject for over two thousand years. He developed the concept of logical proof, in which theorems are proved, directly or indirectly, from axioms.
The Library has a large collection of books authored by Euclid. It consists of 270 editions of Euclid’s work which were published from 1484 to 1800. The original collection of 39 volumes was given to the Library by Sir Charles Thomas-Stanford in 1927 and an addition of 11 volumes in 1928. Since then the Library has continued to add to the collection.
The full title of the volume which the Library will put on display is The Elements of the Geometrie of the most auncient Philosopher Euclide. It is a handsome volume with fold-out diagrams of polyhedra and intersecting planes. It is a translation published in 1570 and interestingly contains a preface by John Dee, who was of Welsh parentage. He is said to have had the largest library in Britain and the fact that he was chosen for the task indicates the esteem in which he was held. He was a brilliant and rather strange man – mathematician, astronomer, adviser to Queen Elizabeth the First but also interested in magic and astrology. Mathematics was not as well developed in Britain at the time as it was in Europe and was seen as only necessary for the study of fields such as astrology and alchemy. However, Dee helped to show that it was applicable to a range of useful applications such as hydraulics and engineering. He was quoted as saying “And for these, and suchlike marvelous arts and feats naturally, mathematically and mechanically wrought and contrived, ought any student and modest Christian philosopher be counted and called a conjurer?”
At the beginning of summer in 1818, a group of enterprising emigrants from the Cilcennin area in Ceredigion were about to complete an extremely long and troublesome journey. Before embarking on this trip, it is unlikely that any of them had roamed any further than their own county, but the desire to seek a better life had driven them to travel over three thousand miles from their homeland to North America.
Their intention was to join the Welsh settlers who had already established a community in Paddy’s Run in western Ohio – and who could blame them? Life in rural Ohio was a far cry from rural Wales. There were flat and fertile lands in the Paddy’s Run area and plenty of opportunities for industrious emigrants. Communities in Wales were suffering oppression and poverty due to an increase in population, high taxes and rents and a series of poor harvests in 1815 and 1816. It is no wonder that John Jones Tirbach, the innkeeper of “The Ship” in the village of Pennant, managed to persuade six extended families to leave their native land and sail America.
On 1 April 1818, a group of around 36 emigrants left Aberaeron harbour bound for Liverpool and from there they ventured across the Atlantic. After a voyage of almost two months – and the loss of a little girl at sea – the pioneers landed in Chesapeake Bay. They then proceeded in wagons to Pittsburgh and down the Ohio River on flat boats. Their ambitious journey and some of their first experiences in the new country have been documented by Virgil H Evans, in The Family Tree of John Jones Tirbach.
Landing in the town of Gallipolis in southeast Ohio was a significant turning point in the story these courageous Welsh pioneers. It was at that point that they decided to stay put rather than continue on their journey to Paddy’s Run. They later became known as “The 1818 Welsh” and the founders of the famous Welsh community in the counties of Jackson and Gallia in southeast Ohio.
Only a few Welsh emigrants followed them during the years that followed. However, the emigration from Ceredigion started anew in the thirties when families began packing their bags to join their former neighbours in Jackson and Gallia. By 1850 around 3,000 “Cardis” (inhabitants of Cardiganshire or Ceredigion) had crossed the Atlantic to start a new life in areas such as Tyn Rhos, Moriah, Nebo, Centerville, Peniel, Oak Hill and Horeb. They took their culture, traditions and religion with them and Jackson and Gallia became known as “Little Cardiganshire”!
Two centuries later, the story of “The 1818 Welsh” is still alive on both sides of the Atlantic and the links between southeast Ohio and Ceredigion continue to flourish. Thanks to the efforts of the Madog Center at the University of Rio Grande, benefactors such as Evan and Bet Davis and the organizers of the Cymru-Ohio 2018 celebrations in the Aberaeron area, the relationship between Wales and Ohio is still being nurtured. The history of the emigration has also been documented for future generations of genealogists, researchers and historians thanks to the generosity and vision of Evan and Bet Davis. In partnership with the National Library of Wales, the Wales-Ohio Website was created to chronicle the experiences of the Welsh settlers in Ohio through digital images and interpretative text and to strengthen the bonds that exist between Wales, Ohio and the United States of America.
With the 2018 World Cup due to kick-off on Thursday, football fans from 32 nations are hoping that their dreams will be realised. The rest of us will be itching to find out the answers to a number of momentous questions. Who will win the tournament – Germany, France, Brazil or Argentina, or one of the dark horses such as Uruguay, Colombia or Portugal? Who will be the player of the tournament – Salah, Neymar, Messi, Firminio or Ronaldo? And who will be the shock team of the tournament?
Unfortunately, following their feats at the Euro 2016 tournament, Wales won’t be taking part in Russia after a disappointing qualification campaign. However, 60 years ago Wales were about to play their second game in the 1958 World Cup, a 1-1 draw against Mexico at the Råsunda Stadium, Solna. The rest of the story is familiar to Welsh football fans – Wales went on to reach the quarter finals where a Pelé goal broke Welsh hearts.
But what is it like playing international football for your country? We are given some idea from John Charles’s foreword to the novel Dewin y Bêl [Magician of the Ball], which was published in 1957 as the excitement built up around the Welsh team and the 1958 World Cup. The novel by Alun Owen, a copy of which is held in the Library’s Historic Welsh Print Collection, was pioneering, the first novel according to its publisher to portray ‘the career of a young lad from Wales as a football player.’ The novel itself follows the travails of Gwyn Ellis from playing football for his school team to scoring a hat-trick for the Welsh Amateur team. Another of the novel’s main attractions was the foreword and endorsement given to it by John Charles, the period’s leading Welsh footballing hero.
In his foreword John Charles gives us a taste of an experience the vast majority of Welsh supporters will never have the privilege of experiencing – wearing a Wales shirt in an international football game. According to Charles:
I have had many incredible experiences during the course of my career as a professional footballer. But without a doubt, there is no experience more pleasurable than going out on to a Welsh pitch wearing the red jersey of Wales with talented fellow Welsh players in front of a crowd of Welsh people who love sport. On those occasions it has been my privilege to appreciate the fire and passion for international soccer shown by our Welsh friends surrounding us.
Over the next month, these will be the feelings flowing through footballers from 32 nations as they represent their countries on the football pitch. The only pity is that Wales won’t be amongst them.
Dr. Doug Jones
Published Collections Projects Manager
The Welsh Assembly Government has designated 2018 the ‘Year of the Sea’ and consequently sea charts and other matters maritime were the topics of the day in the Carto-Cymru Symposium at the National Library on 18th May.
This year’s symposium was themed ‘Charting the seas and coasts of the World – how maps depict the sea and coastline and how such mapping is used to widen our understanding of these environments’.
The presentations comprised:
From the Air, on Land and Sea: 21st century mapping of the seas and coast of Wales and Ireland – The CHERISH Project
James Barry, Marine Geoscientist, Geological Survey of Ireland, Rob Shaw, Senior Geo-Surveyor, Discovery Programme, Centre for Archaeology and Innovation Ireland and Daniel Hunt, Investigator – Cherish Project, The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales
How selected terrestrial and maritime heritage sites expected to be impacted by climate change are being surveyed and mapped within a number of study areas across both nations during the first year of the project and during the next four years.
Bureaucracy, Cartography and the Hydrographic Office of the British Admiralty: Marine Charts and Charting in the Nineteenth Century
Dr Megan Barford, Curator of Cartography, Royal Museums Greenwich
The production and use of Admiralty charts in the nineteenth century.
The collections, history and work of the Hydrographic Office
Dr Adrian Webb, Head of Archive, United Kingdom Hydrographic Office
How this vast collection came into being, how it was developed and why it has moved location from humble beginnings in the Admiralty to a purpose-built archive facility in Taunton.
Ffuglen a ffaith: mapio glannau ac aberoedd Cymru (Fact and Fiction: mapping the coasts and estuaries of Wales)
Dr Hywel Griffiths, Senior Lecturer in Physical Geography and Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of Geography and Earth Sciences, Aberystwyth University
An overview of the mapping of the geomorphological features of Wales’s coasts and the way in which Welsh coasts and seas have been mapped in the poetry and prose of Cardigan Bay poets and writers in particular.
Cist siartiau Cymreig: Casgliad siartiau morol yn Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru (A Welsh chart chest: The marine chart collection at the National Library of Wales)
Gwilym Tawy, Map Curator, The National Library of Wales
An overview of the Library’s collection focusing on historic charts of Welsh waters, whilst also including charts of Britain, Europe and beyond, naval charts, specialist charts, harbour development plans and the unusual. Tribute was also paid to Olwen Caradoc Evans, an authority on Welsh antiquarian maps and charts.
Charting the Welsh Seas
Deanna Groom, Senior Investigator (Maritime), The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales
Royal Commission research to record archaeology in Welsh coastal and offshore areas and archaeological sites where historic charts have been particularly instrumental in establishing the identity of shipwrecks and dates of loss. Consideration was also given to surveys undertaken as part of U-boat Project Wales.
Yet another fascinating, informative and successful Carto-Cymru Symposium!
Many thanks to all who attended and contributed, particularly the speakers and a special thank you, as ever, to principal organizer Huw Thomas and the Steering Committee chaired by Sally for your hard work and competent navigation over the preceding months and on the day.
This Saturday 12th May the fifth Family and Local History Fair will be held here at the Library. It will be a great opportunity for anyone with an interest in starting their journey to discovery their ancestors or perhaps to research the history of a house or area of importance to them. There will be something for everyone, including two enthusiastic speakers in their field of excellence – Dr Reg Davies, who maintains the Welsh Mariners website and Richard Suggett, an expert in old buildings who work for the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments – remember to book your free tickets.
There will be an opportunity to talk to experienced genealogists from the Library and the county Family History Societies, who will be able to give you advice. We have all probably inherited collections of photographs over the years, there will be a photo restorer on hand to give advice on how to store and restore your photographs.
Many local history groups will be present as well as the History Forum of Wales and Ceredigion Local History Forum. To coincide with the 200th anniversary of emigration from Ceredigion to Ohio, the Cymru-Ohio Society will be sharing more information about their celebrations to be held at the end of June.
It is of course an opportunity for some to visit the Reading Rooms to extend their research and also to visit the Kyffin Williams exhibition in Gregynog Gallery. Plenty to do for the whole day here.
The role of UNESCO and its Memory of the World programme are the subjects of the Library’s lunchtime lecture on 28 February. The main objective of UNESCO is to contribute to peace and security in the world by promoting collaboration among nations through education, science, culture and communication. It is probably best known for its role in the protection of heritage around the world, both physical and digital, for the benefit of current and future generations. In Wales, six sites have been given the status of World Heritage Sites, including four castles, a town built around an ironworks and an incredible aqueduct.
In 1992, UNESCO established the Memory of the World Programme to highlight the value of documentary heritage. Importantly, UNESCO sees its value not only in reflecting and promoting understanding of national memory and identity, but also as underpinning good governance and sustainable development. Heritage is therefore part of the sustainable development agenda, which is the centre-piece of both UNESCO and the wider UN’s activities until 2030.
To be inscribed onto the Memory of the World, documents need to be both of outstanding national or international significance, and permanently accessible and re-usable to all without hindrance. The work of the NLW supports and aligns with these aims. Since its foundation, the Library has been committed to collecting, preserving and giving access to all kinds and forms of recorded knowledge, especially relating to Wales and the Welsh and other Celtic peoples, for the benefit of all. The Library’s strategic plan places an emphasis on extending sustainable access to its collections, through digitisation, through the preservation of physical and digital material and through outreach activities.
Peniarth MS 1 – The Black Book of Carmarthen
The Library has four inscriptions on the Memory of the World UK Register: the Survey of the Manors of Crickhowell and Tretower; the Life Story of Lloyd George, the Peniarth Manuscript Collection and the Hepworth Cinema Interviews. Andrew Green, the former Librarian of the National Library of Wales, posted a blog about the value of UNESCO inscriptions. He identified three types of value which ensued from inscription on the register: gaining public recognition, securing publicity and attracting resources. These have certainly been true for the Library, which has used the inscriptions to promote the Library’s collections, thereby enhancing understanding of the distinctive character and identity of Wales, as well as supporting the successful submission for Archive Service Accreditation and for numerous applications for grant funding. The global role of UNESCO is also of considerable value to the Library, as it is an authoritative voice for the protection of the heritage and a source of information and best practice.
On Wednesday, 10 January, Professor Iwan Morus will present a lunchtime talk on William Robert Grove.
Grove was a scientist from Swansea who was brought up during the ferment of the Victorian industrial revolution. During this period the appreciation of the importance of science and its use in everyday life gathered pace. Grove’s neighbours included the botanist Lewis Weston Dillwyn and the industrialist John Henry Vivian. Both became Fellows of the Royal Society, as Grove did himself: evidence of Wales’ scientific heritage from the period.
Grove studied in Brasenose College, Oxford, before moving to London to commence a career in the law. His interest turned to science and specifically to the chemical reactions that produce electricity. He discovered the acid nitrate battery (the Grove cell) and he attracted the attention of Faraday. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1840 and he was appointed a Professor in the London Institute a year later.
Grove’s vision was for such batteries to be used in the future to power transportation. Indeed, the German engineer, Moritz Hermann van Jacobi used a series of Grove batteries to power an electromagnetic motor boat on the river Neva in St. Pertersburg. The technology was also used by the telegraph industry in America.
When Grove experimented further he developed the gas battery by placing tubes of Oxygen and Hydrogen alternately in dilute sulphuric acid and connecting them with Platina foil. The battery transformed Oxygen and Hydrogen to electricity and water. This was the forerunner of the modern fuel cell. He also introduced early ideas on the Conservation of Energy.
By Grove’s death in 1896 a future was foreseen where electricity would be all-powerful. Though the complete dream was not realized (coal and gas came to prominence), battery technology has developed rapidly, and is essential to many aspects of modern life. If a new and clean technology can be developed, the debt to this notable man from Swansea would be considerable.
Interestingly, Grove returned to the law later in his life;, he became a QC and was appointed a judge
To order a ticket to hear Professor Morus’s lecture follow this link.
The University of Wales Press published a book by Professor Iwan Morus on William Robert Grove last year in the series on Welsh scientists. You can read the book in the Library by ordering it here.
Acknowledgement is made to an article written by Professor Iwan Morus which appeared on the websites of The Conversation and Aberystwyth University.
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