Blog - Digitisation

Posted - 10-08-2018

Collections / Digitisation

Revealing the Objects: History Books

As of October 2018 the Library will share a number of additional items from its collections on Europeana, a European digital cultural platform. We are currently working with 12 other partner institutions on a project entitled ‘The Rise of Literacy’ which aims to explore the history of reading and writing in Europe. In this weekly blog series – ‘Revealing the Objects, some of the Library’s contributions will be disclosed on a thematic basis.

Here’s a selection of history books that will be digitized as part of the project.

Theophilius Jones – A History of the County of Brecknock (1805)

At the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth century, many comprehensive texts were written on local history in Wales. This volume by Theophilus Jones however is the most refined and polished of them all. Jones’s account of the history of Brecknock is generally of a scholarly nature and despite its biased tone; it is the most noted record of local history in Wales to be published. Theophilus Jones was the grandson of renowned historian Theophilus Evans.

Thomas Price (Carnhuanawc) – Hanes Cymru, a chenedl y Cymry, o’r cynoesoedd hyd at farwolaeth Llewelyn Ap Gruffydd : ynghyd a rhai cofiaint perthynol i’r amseroedd o’r pryd hynny i waered (1842)

In the first half of the nineteenth century scholarly enthusiasts, mostly clergymen, across Europe, actively wrote histories on the cultures of small or underprivileged nations. Carnhuanawc is the most obvious example of such an individual in Wales. He was inspired by the same ideas as the German philosopher Herder; that all cultures are uniquely significant and valuable. They also shared the belief that such cultures were mostly guarded by the numerous, yet lower and poorer classes. ‘Hanes Cymru’ or ‘A History of Wales to the Death of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd’ was, and is considered Carnhuanawc’s masterpiece. The publication appeared in fourteen separate volumes between 1836 and 1842. Though the author had an inadequate grasp on the historian’s duties, no other historical work would match that of Carnhuanawc for several years.

Jane Williams (Ysgafell) – A History of Wales derived from authentic sources (1869)

Jane Williams was a London-born historian and miscellaneous writer. She spent many years of her life in Brecon, Wales and as a result developed a friendship with the famous cultural sponsor and supporter Augusta Hall, or Lady Llanover. Thereafter Williams took a great interest in Welsh literature and learnt the language. She published many important volumes including ‘A History of Wales derived from authentic sources’ (1869). This book is a compilation of her most ambitious work, and in spite of its defects, was not superseded until the publication of Sir John E. Lloyd’s researches on the history of Wales at the beginning of the twentieth century.

John Edward Lloyd – A History of Wales: from the earliest times to the Edwardian conquest (1911)

John Edward Lloyd was one of Wales’s most noted historians. He was educated at Aberystwyth University and Lincoln College, Oxford, where he successfully obtained a First Class degree in 1883. An academic career soon followed – he was appointed lecturer in History at Aberystwyth University in 1885 and Professor of History at the University College of North Wales, Bangor in 1899. John Edward Lloyd was a medieval specialist and he wrote many comprehensive papers on the early history of Wales. ‘A History of Wales: from the earliest times to the Edwardian conquest’ was published in two volumes in 1911 and is remembered as Lloyd’s great standard work; his masterpiece. It was unique in the sense that its content was compiled through a critical assessment of the sources and thorough scientific research. This book was a turning-point in the study of Welsh history and was arguably the first substantial publication to be considered by professionals as an authoritative assessment on the subject. It is no surprise therefore that some scholars have referred to John Edward Lloyd as the ‘father’ of the study of Welsh history.

Elen Hâf Jones – Digital Access Projects Officer

This post was created as part of the Europeana Rise of Literacy Project

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Posted - 03-08-2018

Collections / Digitisation

Revealing the Objects: Travel Books

As of October 2018 the Library will share a number of additional items from its collections on Europeana, a European digital cultural platform. We are currently working with 12 other partner institutions on a project entitled ‘The Rise of Literacy’ which aims to explore the history of reading and writing in Europe. In this weekly blog series – ‘Revealing the Objects, some of the Library’s contributions will be disclosed on a thematic basis.

Here’s a selection of travel books that will be digitized as part of the project.

 

Thomas Pennant – A Tour in Wales (1778)

Eight unique volumes of the travel book ‘A Tour in Wales’ were produced for the author’s own library at Downing, Flintshire at the end of the eighteenth century. However, the series above was condensed for public sale and two volumes were printed, one in 1778 and the other in 1781. These chronicle the three journeys Thomas Pennant made through Wales between 1773 and 1776. The volumes contain a number of original drawings by Moses Griffiths, Ingleby and other well-known artists of the period. Pennant is recognised today as the finest Welsh travel book writer of his time.

W. E. Jones (Cawrdaf) – Y bardd, neu, y meudwy Cymreig: yn cynwys teithiau difyr ac addysgiadol y bardd gyda rhagluniaeth (1830)

W. E. Jones was a known printer, writer and poet. In his Welsh romantic prose ‘Y bardd, neu, y meudwy Cymreig’ or ‘The Bard, or the Welsh Hermit’ Jones presents a host of imaginary descriptions that depict various international travels. The author describes his journey along with specific locations. The volume has been referred to as the first Welsh novel, yet it does not possess the attributes of a novel.

George Borrow – Wild Wales: its people, language and scenery (1862)

George Borrow was born in Norfolk in 1803. His father was a soldier, and as a result the family moved around the country frequently. He was educated in Edinburgh and Norwich. Borrow trained as a lawyer but soon took to literature and wrote novels and travel books, drawing on his many journeys around Britain and Europe. ‘Wild Wales’ describes a stay in Llangollen in the summer of 1854, with many hikes through North Wales, followed by a longer tour to and through South Wales. Borrow was a noted linguist; he spoke Welsh and had a particular interest in the origins of place-names.

Elen Hâf Jones – Digital Access Projects Officer

This post was created as part of the Europeana Rise of Literacy Project

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Posted - 27-07-2018

Collections / Digitisation

Revealing the Objects: Children’s Literature

As of October 2018 the Library will share a number of additional items from its collections on Europeana, a European digital cultural platform. We are currently working with 12 other partner institutions on a project entitled ‘The Rise of Literacy’ which aims to explore the history of reading and writing in Europe. In this weekly blog series – ‘Revealing the Objects, some of the Library’s contributions will be disclosed on a thematic basis.

Here’s a selection of children’s literature that will be digitized as part of the project.

 

Robert Richards – Darlleniadur : sef hyfforddiadau hawdd ac eglur i ddysgu darllain Cymraeg (1820)

During the end of the eighteenth century children in Wales were taught to read at the circulating schools of Griffith Jones and at Sunday-schools. Both of these placed a great emphasis on the importance of understanding the Bible in order to save an individual’s soul. This volume by Robert Richards should be considered within this particular context. It was amongst the earliest Welsh spelling books for children, most of which were not designed or formatted with the tender years of the pupils in mind. The volume’s purpose is clearly stated within its title – ‘A reader, that is a simple and clear instructor to teach the reading of Welsh, intended as a first spelling-book for children, containing a wide selection of lessons, set out in a suitable order to lead the young from step to step from the easy to the difficult’.

O. M. Edwards – Llyfr Del (1906) and Yr Hwiangerddi (1911)

O. M. Edwards was a renowned editor, writer, historian and educator. From 1888 onwards he devoted his energy to publishing popular books and journals, especially volumes concerning the history and culture of Wales. From 1896 to 1930 he was a professor of History at Aberystwyth University, however Edwards would continue to write, edit and proof-correct out of his official working-hours and often in the early hours of the morning. One cannot overestimate his service to Wales, and indeed, Edwards’s influence reached extensively further than the university lecture room. He wrote many books for children, including ‘Llyfr Del’ and ‘Yr Hwiangerddi’; a book of Welsh nursery rhymes. These books were attractive, packed with illustrations and their texts easy to read. Edwards’s books for children were unique in the sense that they provided age appropriate content for a young target audience through the medium of Welsh for the first time.

Hugh Evans – Y Tylwyth Teg (1935)

Hugh Evans was a noted writer and set up his own press, Gwasg y Brython in 1897 in Liverpool. However, his children’s book ‘Y Tylwyth Teg’ was published posthumously in 1935. This volume was also packed with illustrations and the tale was later republished in several editions.

Elen Hâf Jones – Digital Access Projects Officer

This post was created as part of the Europeana Rise of Literacy Project

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Posted - 20-07-2018

Collections / Digitisation

Revealing the Objects: Expatriate Literature

As of October 2018 the Library will share a number of additional items from its collections on Europeana, a European digital cultural platform. We are currently working with 12 other partner institutions on a project entitled ‘The Rise of Literacy’ which aims to explore the history of reading and writing in Europe. In this weekly blog series – ‘Revealing the Objects, some of the Library’s contributions will be disclosed on a thematic basis.

Here’s a selection of volumes by expatriate writers that will be digitized as part of the project.

 

Ellis Pugh – Annerch i’r Cymry iw galw oddiwrth y llawer o bethau at yr un peth angenrheidiol er mwyn cadwedigaeth eu heneidiau (1721)

Ellis Pugh was a Quaker emigrant and became a member of the Friends Church from the age of eighteen. In 1686 he, along with his family and many other Welshmen, began the lengthy voyage to Pennsylvania. Pugh settled as a farmer and minister in America during the summer of 1686. He left, in manuscript form, a work entitled ‘Annerch ir Cymru’ (‘An Address to the Welsh, to call them away from the many things to the one essential thing to ensure the salvation of their souls’). This particular copy was published in Philadelphia in 1721 and is accepted as the first Welsh book to be published in North America. As in Wales, printing became the most effective way of transmitting religious values and beliefs.

Owain Myfyr, William Owen Pughe, Iolo Morganwg – The Myvyrian archaiology of Wales: collected out of ancient manuscripts (1801-7)

This monumental publication consisted of early Welsh poetry and Brutiau, or Chronicles. It was published in three volumes, two in 1801, and the other in 1807. To many scholars, these publications symbolise the end of the Welsh language manuscript era. Owain Myfyr and William Owen Pughe were mostly responsible for bringing these volumes into print; they were also assisted by Iolo Morganwg in the process of compiling their contents. It must be noted that Myfyr’s fellow-contributors were eager to name the publication after him as he made extraordinary financial contributions to the enterprise, an estimated four to five thousand pounds. Iolo travelled the length and breadth of Wales in search of materials which Pughe structured and prepared for press. Unfortunately, the venture was not entirely a success and they face difficulties with the transcription process. In addition, the inclusion of Iolo Morganwg’s infamous forgeries did not do the publication any justice in terms of later circulation and sales.

Iolo Morganwg – Cyfrinach Beirdd Ynys Prydain (1829)

Edward Williams (more widely known by his pen-name, Iolo Morganwg) was a poet, writer and antiquarian. He had strong connections with the London-Welsh societies of the late eighteenth century, and was particularly affected by the cultural and antiquarian developments of that period. In 1792 Iolo Morganwg held the first meeting of the Gorsedd of the Bards of the Isle of Britain in London. During the occasion he introduced a form of druidism, later discovered to have no true historical root. Morganwg is arguably the most controversial writer and poet Wales has even known. He did not live to see his volume ‘Cyfrinach Beirdd Ynys Prydain’ in printed form. It was published in 1829, three years after his death. This truly unique thesis on the origins of the poetic art of Wales demonstrates Iolo Morganwg’s firm grasp on the subject. However, both his broad knowledge and extraordinary imagination are evident in ‘Cyfrinach Beirdd Ynys Prydain’. In this volume, he rejected the pre-standardised poetic forms introduced by Dafydd ab Edmwnd in the fifteenth century and proposed in their place old strict measures as well as newly formed ones. Morganwg supported his propositions with falsified examples, derived from ancient Glamorgan poets, which also served as proof of the literary excellence and authority of his home county.

Elen Hâf Jones – Digital Access Projects Officer

This post was created as part of the Europeana Rise of Literacy Project

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Posted - 13-07-2018

Collections / Digitisation

Revealing the Objects: Ballads

As of October 2018 the Library will share a number of additional items from its collections on Europeana, a European digital cultural platform. We are currently working with 12 other partner institutions on a project entitled ‘The Rise of Literacy’ which aims to explore the history of reading and writing in Europe. In this weekly blog – ‘Revealing the Objects, some of the Library’s contributions will be disclosed on a thematic basis.

Below is a selection of ballads that will be contributed as part of the project.

Ballad-pamphlets were produced on a mass scale by the new printing presses in Wales during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Hawkers often sang ballads aloud in the market-place or at the fairground. With regards to content; some were of a religious and moral tone and others discussed historic and current affairs; such as local and national crimes, riots and industrial accidents and incidences.

The ballad played an important role in the social and cultural life of Wales during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. By the nineteenth century ballads were being printed at 96 towns and villages across Wales and were bought in their thousands, often by individuals of the lower classes. Their populist nature attracted and recruited many new Welsh readers.

 

Alban Thomas, ‘Cân o senn iw hên feistr Tobacco’, 1718

‘Cân o senn iw hên feistr Tobacco’ was the first ballad to be published in Wales by an official press. It was published by Isaac Carter’s Press at Trefhedyn in 1718. The ballad discusses the evil and immoral nature of tobacco.

Lewis Davies, ‘Pennillion a wnaeth Lewis Davies o Lanrwst, i ffarwelio a’i wlad wrth gychwyn i America’, 18??

Lewis Llanrwst Davies bids farewell to his fellow-countrymen as he begins his journey to America.

Ywain Meirion, ‘Rhyfel-gan, am wrthryfel yr India, a gorchfygu y gelynion, a meddiannau Delhi’, 18??

This broadside is a war-song. Meirion discusses the insurrection of India and the defeat of the ‘enemy’ as the British army take possession of Delhi.

Unknown Author, ‘Ymweliad y cholera, ynghyd â galwad ar bawb i ymofyn am gymod â Duw cyn eu symud i’r byd tragwyddol’, 18??

This ballad introduces two warnings with regards to the cholera epidemic in Wales. It informs of the disease, and it calls on every sufferer to seek reconciliation with God before moving to the eternal world.

Elen Hâf Jones – Digital Access Projects Officer

This post was created as part of the Europeana Rise of Literacy Project

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Posted - 06-07-2018

Collections / Digitisation / News

Revealing the Objects: Plays

As of October 2018 the Library will share a number of additional items from its collections on Europeana, a European digital cultural platform. We are currently working with 12 other partner institutions on a project entitled ‘The Rise of Literacy’ which aims to explore the history of reading and writing in Europe. In this weekly blog – ‘Revealing the Objects‘, some of the Library’s contributions will be disclosed on a thematic basis.

Here’s a selection of plays that will be digitized as part of the project.

 

Twm o’r Nant (Thomas Edwards), Tri Chryfion Byd, 1789

Twm o’r Nant (pen name of Thomas Edwards) was a renowned interlude and play writer. This particular interlude, ‘Tri Chryfion Byd’ or ‘Three Pillars of the World’ was one of his most popular. Poverty, Love and Death, the three pillars, are personified by Twm o’r Nant, and all preach, narrate, advise and commentate during the course of this humorous and lively play. Like many of his other works this interlude includes social commentary.

R. J. Derfel, Brad y Llyfrau Gleision, 1854

R. J. Derfel was a poet, writer and socialist. His play ‘Brad y Llyfrau Gleision’ or ‘The Treachery of the Blue Books’ was a direct reaction to the criticisms presented in the 1847 ‘Report of the Commissioners of Inquiry into the State of Education in Wales’, also referred to as ‘The Blue Books’. Derfel portrays Wales as an extremely godly country in his play, which makes it an intolerable destination for the demons. These demons however are excepting of Welsh clergymen, a group that provided most of the evidence used in the 1847 reports. Many Welsh clergymen were accused, mostly by devoted Nonconformists, of betrayal during the inquiry. In the second act Beelzebub (prince of the demons) sends three spies to assess the state of the Welsh people, not dissimilar to the three deputies appointed to carry out the 1847 inquiry. The ‘treachery’ however is committed by the Church goers and clergymen. Many, including Derfel, thought that their evidence enhanced and even fed ‘The Blue Books’’ anti-Welsh judgements. The play was inspired by the tale of the “Treachery of the Long Knives”.

Beriah Gwynfe Evans, Chwareu-gan : drama yn null Shakespeare ar “Owain Glyndwr”, 1879

Beriah Gwynfe Evans was a journalist and dramatist. He wrote many a play, most of which were based on historic events and figures. His play ‘Owain Glyndwr’, was successful at the Llanberis eisteddfod; it broke new ground and arguably inspired a dramatic movement in Wales. A new version of the play was staged at Caernarvon in 1911 during the investiture of the Prince of Wales.

Idwal Jones, Pobl yr ymylon: drama bedair act, 1927

Idwal Jones was a schoolmaster, poet and dramatist. ‘Pobl yr ymylon’ is considered his most important work. This four act play explores the meaning of respectability and argues against some societal expectations.

Elen Hâf Jones – Digital Access Projects Officer

This post was created as part of the Europeana Rise of Literacy Project

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Posted - 29-06-2018

Collections / Digitisation / News

Revealing the Objects: Poetry

As of October 2018 the Library will share a number of additional items from its collections on Europeana, a European digital cultural platform. We are currently working with 12 other partner institutions on a project entitled ‘The Rise of Literacy’ which aims to explore the history of reading and writing in Europe. In this weekly blog – ‘Revealing the Objects‘, some of the Library’s contributions will be disclosed on a thematic basis.

Here’s a selection of volumes containing poetry that will be digitized as part of the project.

 

Huw Jones (ed.) – Diddanwch Teuluaidd, 1763

‘Diddanwch Teuluaidd’ was edited by Huw Jones and included works by noted Anglesey poets, for instance, Goronwy Owen, Lewis Morris and Hugh Hughes. The volume was first printed in London and was reprinted at Caernarvon in 1817 and at Liverpool in 1879.

Goronwy Owen was a renowned poet and teacher. In 1757 he sailed from London to Virginia after accepting a teaching position at a grammar school in Williamsburgh. When Owen was a youngster he composed many poetic masterpieces. He was greatly admired by generations of Welsh poets and his poetic works were emulated by many a writer.

Lewis Morris was a noted poetic teacher and Goronwy Owen was among his students. Morris wished to breathe new life into Welsh literature and wrote many metrical and free compositions that were of an irreverent nature; these were included in this volume.

Hugh Hughes was also a bardic teacher and a close friend of Lewis Morris and his brothers. A collection of his compositions were also published in ‘Diddanwch Teuluaidd’.

John Ceiriog Hughes – Oriau’r hwyr: sef, gweithiau barddonol John Ceiriog Hughes, 1860

John Ceiriog Hughes was a renowned poet and ‘Oriau’r hwyr’ was his first publication. Some of Owen’s favourite themes and topics included nature, lust and patriotism. By today’s standards, these poems were highly sentimental in their content and tone, however very popular during Victoria’s reign. In this volume, one can recognise popular pieces that were recited, made into songs and heard on Welsh stages for many generations. With the exception of the Bible, ‘Oriau’r hwyr’ was the most bought volume in Wales during the 1860s, with 30,000 copies being sold between 1860 and 1872.

Sarah Jane Rees, Caniadau Cranogwen, 1870

Sarah Jane Rees, also known as Cranogwen, was a renowned poet, schoolteacher and editor. In 1865, at the Aberystwyth Eisteddfod, she won her first distinguished prize as a poet on the subject ‘Y Fodrwy Briodasol’ (The Wedding Ring). ‘Caniadau Cranogwen’ is a compilation of her work and was published in 1870 after her poetic successes. Cranogwen was also a noted public speaker, preacher and activist; in 1878 she became editor of ‘Y Frythones’, a Welsh journal dedicated to women’s issues.

Alun Lewis, Raiders’ Dawn and other poems, 1942

Alun Lewis was a poet and writer of short stories. The volume ‘Raiders’ Dawn and other poems’ is a compilation of Lewis’s work. These poems were written between 1940 and 1941 when he was at the Bordon military camp, receiving introductory military training. Most of Lewis’s imageries were inspired by Biblical and Greek mythologies and he tended to shape his poems into parables or allegories. All initial copies quickly sold and the volume was reprinted six times.

Elen Hâf Jones – Digital Access Projects Officer

This post was created as part of the Europeana Rise of Literacy Project

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Posted - 27-06-2018

Collections / Digitisation / News / News and Events / Research

Welsh Portrait Collection

4800 Welsh portraits added to Wikimedia Commons and Wikidata

Over the last 4 years the National Library of Wales has worked with Wikimedia to provide open access to more than 10,000 public domain images. These include the Welsh Landscape Collection, photographs, maps and manuscripts.

 

This partnership has led to more than 455 million views of Wikipedia articles containing National Library images to date.

 

Images

Now the Library is pleased to announce that nearly 5000 portrait prints, photographs and paintings have been placed in the public domain on Wikimedia Commons.

 

Along with the images, the Library’s National Wikimedian has also shared rich metedata for every image as linked open data on Wikidata.

 

The Library’s main goal in releasing such content is to increase access to our collections and to contribute to the creation and sharing of knowledge about Wales and its people.

 

It is now hopped that the Wikimedia community will begin to use these images to illustrate Wikipedia articles. The National Library also plans to run a project to increase engagement with this collection, and hopes that volunteers will be encouraged to create Wikipedia articles about the Welsh sitters, artists, printers and photographers involved in the collection.

 

Because all these images are freely downloadable and in the public domain, we also encourage others to reuse them for any purpose they see fit, from education to the creative industries this is a free resource for everybody.

Data

The creation of linked data for the collection also offers interesting opportunities for researchers and academics. For the first time we can properly disambiguate (untangle) the names of the artists and sitters in order to better understand the makeup of the collection. For example 12 different individuals named John Jones have been identified in the collection, and we now know who they all are, and many are now connected via Wikidata to Wikipedia articles or Dictionary of Welsh Biography entries.

 

We can query and visualize the data in a number of ways using a Sparql query service. For example, we can analyze which engravers copied works by specific artists, and we can see the most frequently depicted types of people (clerics, by a country mile) and features, such as coats of arms, and border decoration.

visualisation of the data showing which printers copied work by certain artists
Visualization of the most frequently depicted things in the collection

We can easily visualize the sitters who appear most in the images using Wikidata’s ‘Main subject’ property. General Thomas Picton, a Welsh born war hero is depicted most often, with 32 portraits. Interestingly his Wikipedia article reveals he was not such a great hero after all, having been convicted of abusing women.

Visualization of the most frequently depicted sitters

We can also explore the collection chronologically and a first look reveals a clear correlation between the popularity of certain types of portrait and historical events. For example the number of images of preachers and clergymen increase dramatically at times of Religious revival.

A timeline of the most frequently depicted things in the collection over time

Language

Wikidata is a multilingual platform, so it also allows us to utilize the multilingual nature of Wikidata’s descriptive labels to view our data in dozens of languages. The Metadata held by the library for this collection was only available in English, however, by converting it to Wikidata 83% of the 40,000 data items were automatically available in Welsh, thanks to the work of Wikidata volunteers, who have added Welsh language labels to many Wikidata items. We hope to engage with Welsh speaking volunteers in order to make 100% of the data available in Welsh.

 

Linking our heritage

Another advantage of sharing our data on a public platform like Wikidata is that many other institutions have done the same, and this means that we can begin to build an extensive network of connected data. The data allows us to connect our own collections together, so for example we can see which publishers have published works in both the Welsh Portrait Collection but also the Welsh Landscape Collection. We have also been able to quickly identify over 400 portraits of people featured in the dictionary of Welsh Biography, and we are now connecting those portraits to the Welsh Biography Website.

All images by one publisher. Blue denotes images in the Welsh Portrait Collection and yellow shows images published by the same publisher which now form part of the Welsh Landscape Collection

Beyond our own institution, we can see which of our sitters also have portraits at the National Portrait Gallery, and we can identify the artists and sitters in our collection who have an Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry. In this way the worlds cultural heritage can be connected together to provide the public with easy access, in one place, to a rich and diverse range of sources.

 

Jason Evans, National Wikimedian

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Posted - 26-06-2018

Collections / Digitisation / Research

Welsh Newspapers Online- Writing ‘Notorious’

This is a guest post by one of our users, Anthony Rhys.

You are welcome to submit posts for our consideration in Welsh or English. All posts must be in relation to either the Library’s work or collections, the Welsh Language or Wales. We will keep full editorial control over any posts published. Please send your posts through the Enquiries Service.

Two years ago I began researching writing the history of two streets in Cardiff called Charlotte Street and Whitmore Lane, an area notorious for brothels, beerhouses and lodging houses. It started out as an art project that quickly grew into a full length book called ‘Notorious’ that follows the lives of thirty people over thirty year period on these two streets.

Without being able to search for names and places on Welsh Newspapers Online over such a vast timescale this book would not have existed. I’d estimate 60% of the sources I’ve used for the book have come from the website.

Telling the life stories of the people in my book would have been impossible without Welsh Newspapers Online. Searching manually through microfiche records would have taken six months working 9 till 5. With a daytime job that time commitment is impossible. Also crucial was the ability to return back to the sources time and time again to research new names and new leads as they came up. Without constant access to Welsh Newspapers Online I would not have been able to tell these people’s stories.

Anthony Rhys

Anthony Rhys’ blog: Two Notorious Cardiff Streets: Charlotte Street and Whitmore Lane 1841-1870

Posted - 25-06-2018

Collections / Digitisation / Events / News and Events

Remembering “The 1818 Welsh”

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.

 

Menna Morgan,

Digital Access

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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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