Capturing Contemporary Wales

Collections - Posted 04-04-2022


One of the Library’s main aims is to collect all kinds of recorded information about Wales and the people of Wales for the benefit of the public, with a new emphasis on ensuring that our collections represent all aspects of Welsh life and history, especially under-represented individuals and communities. The ‘Collecting’ exhibition gives a taste of our recent acquisitions, including archives and manuscripts, books, maps, photographs and artwork.  



In terms of archives the material represents a number of themes – literature, wars, sport and entertainment, politics and music,  industry and culture.  It contains material of interest  in the study of women’s history, the history of slavery, the social history of Wales, the history of art, and the history of the entertainment world, dating from 1866 to 2018.  The writers Edward Thomas, David Jones, Menna Elfyn and Eigra Lewis Roberts are among those featured, as are Frederick Douglass, David Lloyd George and Jill Evans from the political world, and Mollie Doreen Phillips, Harry Secombe and Llio Rhydderch from the entertainment industry. 


This is what’s on display: 


  • The poet Edward Thomas’s exercise book contains drafts of ‘The Mountain Chapel’, December 1914. (NLW MS 24122B). Purchased with financial assistance of the Friends of the National Libraries.
  • An illustrated letter in Welsh which forms part of a collection of letters from David Jones to Valerie ‘Elri’ Wynne-Williams. (NLW MS 24167i-iiiE) Purchased with financial assistance of the Friends of the National Libraries.
  • Notebook of the writer Menna Elfyn dating from 1977 containing early poetic endeavors and drafts of poems. (Menna Elfyn Archive, 1/1/1) Purchase. 
  • Eigra Lewis Roberts’ manuscript draft of the popular television program ‘Minafon’. She wrote about the lives and discontents of Welsh women in post-war Britain, a subject that was not widely addressed by Welsh writers at the time. (NLW MS 23074B) Donation.  
  • Papers of Captain Ted Lees, relating to Island Farm Prisoner of War Camp, Bridgend.  Captain Lees was the camp’s Intelligence Officer and interpreter during the period 1946-1948, when it held some of the most senior German officers, including Feldmarschall Gerd von Rundstedt. (NLW MS 24094E) Purchase.  
  • Scrapbook relating to Mollie Doreen Phillips, the Carmarthenshire-based ice skater who competed in the 1932 and 1936 Winter Olympic Games. (NLW ex 3043 (i)) Purchase.  
  • A selection of items from the Harry Secombe archive, including a letter from Prince Charles in 1981, the script for the final ‘Goon Show’ radio programme, broadcast in 1972, and photographs of ‘The Goons’.  (Harry Secombe Archive) Donation (below):



  • Copy of a petition, presented to the European Parliament on behalf of Residents against Ffos-y-fran in an attempt to stop opencast mining in Merthyr Tydfil.  (Jill Evans MEP Papers, 1 ) Donation.     
  • David Lloyd George’s War Department Pass, Military Identity Card and Westminster Palace Pass from 1940.  (Coalition Liberal Association Papers, 1) Purchase.  
  • Abolition of the Right to Buy and Associated Rights (Wales) Act 2018. The intention was to safeguard Wales’ social housing stock for people who are unable to acquire homes through the housing market. (Acts and measures of the National Assembly for Wales – dccc/anaw/2018/1) Donation.     
  • Papers relating to the 2007 travelling exhibition, ‘Crossing Oceans: Wales, Slavery and Its Music’, the year of Women in Jazz’s 21st anniversary and the bicentennial anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade.   (Jazz Heritage Wales Archive : Women’s Archive of Wales)  Donation.
  • A collection of Welsh music fanzines from the 1980s from Rhys Williams’ collection, including ‘Yn Syth o’r Rhewgell’ fanzine, April 1985.  (Rhys Williams Fanzine Collection) Donation (below):



  • Manuscript score of ‘Dwy Gwningen Fechan’ by noted harpist Llio Rhydderch, to the words of I. D. Hooson, 1955.  (Llio Rhydderch Papers, 1) Donation.  
  • Autograph album belonging to the journalist John Griffith, compiled during visits to Reconstruction Era America to report for Baner ac Amserau Cymru between 1866 and 1868.  Seen here is the autograph of the famous African-American abolitionist, Frederick Douglass.  After escaping from slavery in Maryland, he became a national leader of the abolitionist movement in Massachusetts and New York.  (NLW MS 24173B) Purchase.
  • Poster for a gig August 8th 1991 where Welsh bands Tŷ Gwydr, Llwybr Llaethog and Datblygu played.  This poster was donated as part of The Welsh Music Archive’s appeal for Welsh gigs posters #poster2020 . Donation (below):



Casglu  / Collecting – our exhibition of recent acquisitions is on from 14.02.22 – 03.06.22. Remember to pop in to see it. 


 Nia Mai Daniel 

Head of Archives, Manuscripts and Contemporary Records Section, and The Welsh Music Archive Coordinator 


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

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