Blog - Collections

The end of the Glyn Dŵr rebellion

Collections - Posted 06-09-2021

In September 2000, the Library opened an exhibition to mark the 600th anniversary of Owain Glyn Dŵr’s proclamation as prince of Wales and the beginning of his rebellion against Henry IV and the English crown. Now, in 2021, it is 600 years since the last act of that rebellion: the acceptance of a royal pardon from Henry V by Owain’s son, Maredudd, in 1421.

Not much is known of Maredudd’s life. He is said to have been one of six sons of Owain (Peniarth MS 59), all of whom fought in the rebellion (NLW MS 2021B [Panton MS 53]), and Maredudd emerged as the main leader of the revolt from 1412. Support was now waning, however, and successes were few. In the years that followed, Maredudd and his father were reduced to living on the run in remote forests and moorlands, according to the chronicler Adam of Usk, and their prospects appeared bleak. Maredudd’s mother, Margaret Hanmer, his brother Gruffudd and his sister Catrin – Owain’s wife and children – had all been captured by royal forces and kept as hostages for several years, and they had then been left to die of starvation in custody when they were no longer considered useful. Nothing is known of the other brothers, except that they all seem to have died before Owain himself.

Owain was offered a royal pardon in 1415, but did not accept it, and he was not mentioned when further pardons were offered to Maredudd in 1416 and 1417. It appears that Owain had died in the meantime. Maredudd rejected the pardons offered to him and continued to hold out in Meirionnydd and Arfon, seeking help from the Scots and fugitive English Lollards as well as Welsh rebels. This revival of the revolt is likely to have been connected with French scheming against the English at the Council of Constance, but it did not last. By 1421, Maredudd had run out of options. He was offered a pardon in April of that year and accepted it, very likely because his supporters had had enough. The rebellion always depended upon local communities, officials and clerics as much as upon great landlords and military leaders, and all of these groups were involved in taking important decisions. In order to ease the final reconciliation, Maredudd’s pardon stated that he had not followed his father’s malice after Owain’s death, but had dwelt peaceably among the king’s subjects. In truth, the Welsh rebellion had lasted more than 20 years.

Maredudd’s pardon is not in the Library’s collections – it is kept with the Crown Patent Rolls at The National Archives in London (C 66, 9 Hen. V) – but there are a number of other pardons from the revolt in our collections, and they illustrate some of the complex story of the period (Gogerddan Estate Records JAA1/7; Chirk Castle F 9877; Elwes Papers 68; Wynnstay (1945 deposit) GX3, GX4, GX5, GX6 and GX8; Bettisfield Estate Records 202; Penrice and Margam Estate Records 243). Throughout the revolt, many of the rebels’ decisions were driven by local considerations rather than the national picture, and many Welshmen found it expedient to submit or change sides when circumstances required it. In some cases, rebels submitted at times when Glyn Dŵr controlled almost the whole of Wales, or within months of the Pennal letter which outlined his vision of an independent Wales, while others held out as late as 1420. Their motivations are often not clear to us, but this is gradually changing as historians delve deeper into the complex local networks of loyalties, rivalries and personal and community interests. There were major royal campaigns in 1403, and the rebellion suffered regular and significant military reverses from 1405 onwards, but this rarely tells the whole story behind Welsh submissions. Self-interest was often a key factor. While it was always made clear to the rebels that their rebellion had been treasonous, most of them were reinstated to their former status and possessions. At Cydweli in 1413, Henry Dwn took this a step further by taking advantage of his restoration as a royal official to fine his tenants for failing to support him while he had been in rebellion.

By 1413, Henry V was keen to offer pardons in Wales so that he could concentrate on his war in France. Many former rebels fought alongside him at Agincourt, including another Maredudd ab Owain who had been sheriff of Cardiganshire and had also held Aberystwyth for Glyn Dŵr. One man who was not among them was Maredudd ab Owain ap Gruffudd – the son of Glyn Dŵr. We do not know what became of him after he was pardoned in 1421.

The granting of pardons was one of the clearest assertions of royal authority and power, and as such it was treated with the utmost solemnity. The king’s administration was beginning to record many of its activities in vernacular English by the early fifteenth century, but all of the pardons in our collections were written in Latin.

The Library has a large collection of popular and academic books about Owain and his revolt, with significant recent additions including Dyddiau olaf Owain Glyndŵr by Professor Gruffydd Aled Williams (2015) and The rise and fall of Owain Glyn Dŵr: England, France and the Welsh Rebellion in the Lste Middle Ages by Gideon Brough (2017). There is still much that we do not know about the revolt, but many of the answers may lie in libraries and archives throughout Britain and Europe, not least within our own collections, especially our manuscripts of Welsh poetry.

 

Dr David Moore (Archivist)

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Mervyn Burtch and the Great Wine Gum Robbery

Collections / music - Posted 31-08-2021

Born in Ystrad Mynach in the Rhymney Valley, Mervyn Burtch (1929-2015) was a teacher and composer whose work embraced a wide range of genres including opera, concertos, string quartets, works for brass bands, and choral pieces. During a career spanning some sixty years he produced and arranged some 650 works, a significant proportion of which were written for community groups, children and friends. He was an early member of the Guild for Promotion of Welsh Music.

Mervyn Burtch attended the Lewis Grammar School at Pengam where he was taught music by David Wynne (1900-1983), one of Wales’s most significant composers. He studied at the University College Cardiff, and later secured the position of Head of Music at Lewis School for Girls. In 1979 he joining the staff at the Welsh College of Music and Drama, Cardiff (now the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama). He was made a Fellow of the College following his retirement in 1989, and awarded the M.B.E in 2003 for his services to music and education in Wales and work as President of KidsOp.

As Director of the Welsh College of Music and Drama Schools’ Opera Programme, he produced such works as The Pied Piper and Alice in Wonderland, others had fantastic titles such as the The Dragon of Abercwmgoch; Percy the Martian; The Great Wine Gum Robbery; and Fred Fish and the Weather Bureau. Some of his most significant works were his Concertos and the cycle of seventeen string quartets which he composed during the period 1985 and 2013.

He married his wife Rita Jones when he was 74. Following a long illness, on 12 May 2015, Mervyn Burtch died aged of 85. His Funeral service was held at Thornhill Crematorium, Cardiff on May 27. The Mervyn Burtch Trust was created with the sole purpose of Educating and promotion of the appreciation of the public in the music of Mervyn Burtch and the education of the public in the life of Mervyn Burtch.

His manuscript scores were transferred by his widow to the Welsh Music Archive at the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth in 2019 and a catalogue of these 27 boxes can be found here: Mervyn Burtch Music Manuscripts. There are also papers relating to Mervyn Burtch in the archives of Daniel Jones, Alun Lewis, Peter Reynolds and Alun Hoddinott at the National Library.

Many of the instrumental parts scores (manuscript and copies) are held at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.

Follow this link for information on the Archives of Welsh composers held at the National Library of Wales.

 

Robert Evans
The Welsh Music Archive Project Officer

 

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Wales and the slave trade

Collections - Posted 23-08-2021

The transatlantic slave trade, which flourished between the 17th century and the 19th century, affected Wales in ways that are still not fully appreciated. It left its mark not only on the merchants, sailors, plantation owners and estate workers who were directly involved in it, but also on the rest of Welsh industry, commerce, society and daily life. Wales was known for its iron, wool and copper, all of which were often made into items that were traded for slaves or used in the slave ships and plantations, while the cotton and tobacco that were widely consumed at all levels of society in Wales were produced by slaves.

Evidence of the slave trade and its impact can be found in many of the Library’s collections, especially the archives of landed estates that owned slave plantations. Sometimes the references are clear, but often we need to scratch the surface before we can see the full picture. Work by historians such as Professor Chris Evans (Slave Wales: the Welsh and Atlantic slavery 1660-1850; University of Wales Press, 2010) has helped to uncover the story, but there is a lot still to be discovered in the archives. As UNESCO marks the International Day for Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition on August 23, we take a look at some of the material relating to the slave trade in the Library’s collections.

The slave trade within the British empire was carried on across the world, from the East Indies to the Americas, and many Welsh people were involved in it. UNESCO emphasises the importance of the transatlantic trade because of its far-reaching impact on race relations today, so the focus of this blog is on the West Indies. Our collections also contain a wealth of information about the slave trade in other parts of the world.

From the beginning, many contemporary references to the slave trade were heavily coded by those involved in it. In 1692, for example, a joint stock company trading in Africa and the West Indies referred only to its ‘interests’ there (Tredegar Estate Records MSS and Docs 122); this was the time when the Royal African Company was at its height, monopolising the English and Welsh trade in African slaves – a statue of its Deputy Governor, Edward Colston, was famously pushed into the harbour in Bristol in 2020. Outwardly, and throughout the period, title deeds and financial transactions concerning plantations in places such as Montserrat, St Kitts and Dominica gave the impression that the properties were no different from manors in Gloucestershire or Monmouthshire (Gogerddan Estate Records MC2/1; Penty Park Estate Records 28; Nassau Senior Papers E714), and correspondence from the sugar plantations in Nevis and St Kitts often made very little if any mention of the presence of slaves (Bodrhyddan Estate Papers 58/1-143).

Similarly, letters from Navy officials to Charles Hayes, the Deputy Governor of the Royal African Company, mentioned French protests about British encroachments on their trade at Senegal in the mid-18th century without being explicit about what that trade was (Gogerddan Estate Papers GCB1/1). Even apparently innocent hydrographical charts of the West Indies, such as that drawn up by Joseph Smith Speer in 1774, conceal the dark reality of the world of slavery in which they were created (Aston Hall Estate Records 3503). At the same time, colonialists such as the Ottley family took great pride in their position as Establishment figures in Antigua, St Vincent, Grenada and other parts of the British West Indies (Ottley Family (Additional) Papers 1).

Slavery is far from invisible in the archives, however. A letter to Charles Hayes from William Slawman in 1747 openly invited him to engage in the supply of slaves from Gambia to Buenos Aires (Gogerddan Estate Papers GCB1/1), and sales of slaves were recorded (Nassau Senior Papers E732). Slaves were generally listed as possessions alongside livestock and mineral deposits in inventories and agreements (Peniarth Estate Records DK2), and Richard Swarton’s estate in Jamaica in the 1760s consisted mostly of slaves (Slebech Estate Records 3328-33). In 1785, William Knox of Slebech was party to the purchase of 100 slaves at a price of £54 10s. (NLW Deeds 1948); these slaves had already been taken from Georgia to Jamaica, and they were now to be delivered to South Carolina. The agents who conducted this business kept journals (Nassau Senior Papers E814) and sometimes recorded information about the health of slaves, but only in relation to how well they could work (Slebech Estate Records 8342-440). They saw slaves merely as financial assets, and complained about inflated prices and the difficulty of obtaining ‘seasoned slaves’ (Nassau Senior Papers E51, E64, E4).

The slavers were well aware that their rule was based on force, and they made it clear that they expected ‘runaway slaves’ to be suppressed (Nassau Senior Papers E74). West Indian planters and merchants petitioned the British government with their concerns when tensions between slaves and planters escalated in 1791 (Slebech Estate Records 11532-41) – a successful slave revolt a few months later in the French colony of Saint-Domingue eventually led to the establishment of the free state of Haiti – and the owners’ fears grew stronger during Britain’s wars with revolutionary France (Glansevern Estate Records 1010). When slaves in the West Indies first became free, it was through their own bloody struggle with European colonists.

There was always opposition in Wales to the slave trade, but it made little difference until the end of the 18th century. By that time, meetings calling for abolition, such as the one at Usk in 1792, were becoming more common (Tredegar Estate Records 64/346). Edward Williams or Iolo Morganwg was known for his strong opposition to the trade; not only did he speak, read and write on the subject, he also refused to sell his literary work to those whom he knew to be supporters of the trade in Bristol (Iolo Morganwg and Taliesin ab Iolo Manuscripts and Papers NLW MS 21282E/359, NLW MS 21396E/17, NLW MS 21392F/29, NLW MS 21400C/24-24a). His opinions were not shared by everyone, however. Many of the Welsh gentry and their agents had invested extensively in the plantations, and they argued that abolition would ruin the economy of Liverpool and other ports (Harpton Court Estate Records 2073).

The slave trade in the British empire was abolished in 1807, but slavery still persisted, and in some circumstances slaves could still be bought and sold. In October 1810, for example, Major General Thomas Picton – at that time fighting in Portugal with Wellington – made an agreement with members of the Delaforest family for the conveyance of plantations, buildings, implements, slaves, horses, mules and other effects in Trinidad, which had become a British colony in 1797 (Picton Family Records 19). Picton, a wealthy landowner who later became M.P. for Pembroke Boroughs, was well known for his cruelty and arbitrary brutality, especially to slaves, and he had been found guilty of approving the torture of a young girl called Luisa Calderón (who was not a slave) in Trinidad in 1801, but he had appealed against the conviction on a technicality and the case was never resolved. For many years he was best remembered for his part in the Peninsular war and his death at Waterloo, and a monument was erected in tribute to him in Carmarthen. There has recently been a campaign to remove it.

The cruel treatment of slaves in Jamaica was still being commented on in 1815 (Nassau Senior Papers E136), and the Royal Navy in the West Indies had to act against piracy and the slave trade – which the government now considered to be closely related – for years after that (Penralley Papers 219). The attention of abolitionists was now turning towards slavery itself, not only in the British empire but in the United States of America and elsewhere. The campaigners in Wales included the Independent minister Samuel Roberts (‘S.R.’) (NLW MS 9523A), but the most prominent individual in the Library’s collections is Thomas Clarkson, who travelled extensively for the Anti-Slavery Society (NLW MS 14984A) and dedicated his life to the cause, sometimes at great personal risk. It was Clarkson who galvanised the movement for abolition in Britain in the 1780s by collecting testimonies from sailors, which he knew would reveal not only the terrible conditions faced by crew members on board slave ships but also the treatment of the slaves themselves. Some of those Bristol and Liverpool sailors were Welsh.

These are just a few of the more easily accessible items in our collections. Many hidden stories still lie buried in the archives, waiting to be unearthed.

Wales’s involvement in slavery did not begin with the transatlantic trade. Medieval Welsh law – of which there are several manuscripts in the Library, such as Peniarth MS 28 – routinely took slaves for granted as a category of society, while narrative sources such as Brut y Tywysogyon (Peniarth MS 20) and Vita Griffini filii Conani (Peniarth MS 434E) tell of Vikings from Ireland taking people in Wales into slavery. Even the seventh-century lullaby Pais Dinogad, which is written in the voice of a woman singing to her child, refers to their eight slaves (‘wythgeith’) singing along with them (NLW Llyfr Aneirin, Cardiff MS 2.81).

Nor is the slave trade yet a thing of the past. In 2007 and 2008, as part of the Everywhere In Chains community project, Women in Jazz conducted a series of workshops in south Wales to raise awareness of human slavery and trafficking both in the past and in the modern world (Jazz Heritage Wales / Women’s Archive Wales 4/9). We hope that such additions to our collections will not be necessary in the future.

Dr David Moore (Archivist)

 

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Religion and Science

Collections - Posted 16-08-2021

It was interesting to read a pamphlet, included in the Gladstone unbound volumes, by the eminent mathematician and physicist, George Stokes, titled On the bearing of the study of Natural Science and the contemplation of the discoveries to which that study leads on our religious ideas.

Stokes was eager to show his readers that scientific discoveries change but they don’t undermine religious belief. He believed that gaining knowledge of the laws of natural science helps people to appreciate religion and deepen their faith. He gives several examples to support this.

He starts by asking his readers to imagine an undiscovered island in the Pacific Ocean. He calls the island Irene. The Irenians are intelligent and deeply religious, but because they are cut off from the rest of the world, they don’t understand natural science. They valued the sense of sight and believed it was a special gift from the Creator.

 

 

Eventually, the island was discovered by the captain of a ship with a team of scientists on board. They got along well with the islanders and the scientists taught the Irenians much about physics. They taught them about optics, the existence of rays and the laws of reflection and refraction, also the formation of images by a telescope. After dissecting an eye, they showed that it acted just like an optical instrument in forming external objects on the retina. The Irenians had accepted the sense of sight as a direct gift from the Creator, but now they realised that their eyes acted like any other lifeless matter. They were forced to accept that so much they saw around them just obeyed the laws of nature.

After the scientists had left, the islanders started to form a more moderate opinion of what they had learned. Human reasoning had taught them that images had formed in the retina like those in optical instruments. But how were its parts so well adapted to fulfil this? They had become impressed with the evidence of design. There must have been a designer. They had learned to think of God in a different way. God accomplished his design by working with natural laws rather than against them.

Stokes then compares the state of the islanders with the state of his readers when new scientific discoveries are made. He implores his readers to keep a balanced mind between scientific evidence and religious ideas. This is good advice for us today.

Stokes discusses other scientific theories such as the conservation of energy and the theory of evolution to support his belief that a Creator lies behind the natural order of the world. The fact that one of the most renowned scientists of the nineteenth century saw fit to address this topic emphasises its importance to his readers then. It remains of much interest to us today (see the second item in the Bibliography).

 

Bibliography

Stokes, G.G. (1879) On the bearings of the Study of Natural Science and of the contemplation of the discoveries to which that study leads, on our religious ideas. London: E. Stanford.

Davies, Noel and Jones, T. Hefin (2017) Cristnogaeth a Gwyddoniaeth. Cardiff: Gwasg Prifysgol Cymru.

 

Hywel Lloyd

Assistant Librarian

Rhodri Morgan in America

Collections - Posted 09-08-2021

Between 1961 and 1963, Rhodri Morgan, who later became leader of Welsh Labour and First Minister of Wales, studied at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Thanks to a scholarship from the Thomas and Elizabeth Williams (Loughor School Board) Fund he was able to study and travel in the USA. A lack of applications from Loughor meant that the fund was opened up to residents of Swansea, providing Morgan with a wonderful opportunity. During his time in the USA, he wrote a series of letters to his family in Swansea.

A phone call from a member of the Welsh Political Archive Advisory Committee came late last year saying that Rhodri’s brother, Professor Prys Morgan, was eager for a collection of 88 letters, written by Rhodri Morgan during this period should come to the National Library of Wales. Shortly afterwards a collection of letters, photographs and an explanatory note had reached my desk.

Receiving such packages is one of the reasons why I enjoy my work so much. It was a privilege to read about Rhodri Morgan’s adventures, his work and university life, meetings, and various trips. His travels across the country to Georgia, Iowa, California, New Orleans and Puerto Rico can be followed in the letters; most written neatly in Welsh on thin Aerogramme paper, and in the accompanying photographs. One letter is written from the United Nations Plaza in New York and another contains a draft essay for Prys to comment on!

The first letter from New York contains a description of the journey by ship from Rotterdam, with arrival a day and a half late. Rhodri noted that he missed seeing the Statue of Liberty! In another letter he talks about the big celebrations on St Patrick’s Day compared to a much quieter St David’s Day and in another from Berkley where he talks about meeting people from differing political groups such as the Christian Anti-Communist Crusade and the Socialist Party Social Democratic Federation.

The letters provide an opportunity to see the world through Rhodri Morgan’s eyes, to see his political interests develop and to get an idea of ​​the experiences and friends that influenced him. We are very grateful to Professor Prys Morgan for sharing them.

Rob Phillips
The Welsh Political Archive

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Thomas Pennant’s Bible

Collections / New Accessions - Posted 03-08-2021

Thomas Pennant (1726-1798) has been described as the most prominent zoologist after John Ray and before Charles Darwin. He was born and spent the whole of his life at his family’s estate in Downing Hall near Whitford, Flintshire, but he travelled to Scotland, Cornwall and other parts of Britain, recording the antiquities and natural life he saw. The Library has an extensive collection of his works, including The British Zoology, A Tour in Scotland and A Tour in Wales.

In a recent auction we succeeded in purchasing an English Bible printed in 1619 with the signature “Thomas Pennant Esqr Downing” in elegant handwriting on one of the endpapers. Further on in the volume are more handwritten notes: “This Book for the Sarvents [sic] of Thos. Pennant Esqr of Downing” and also: “David Pennant Esqr His Booke In the year of Our Lord God 1751”. David was the name of Thomas Pennant’s son, but he was born in 1763, so this is probably the signature of Thomas Pennant’s father, also called David. So the volume probably spent many years in the home of the Pennant family. It is appropriate that it should now find a new home in the National Library with the works of this prominent Welshman.

Timothy Cutts
Rare Books Librarian

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New Digital Resources for the Summer

Collections / Digitisation - Posted 29-07-2021

Since the beginning of the year work has continued on digitising our collections and the following items and collections are now available to view from home on the Library’s website and/or the catalogue:

Archives and Manuscripts

Peniarth and Llanstephan collections

Sir John Herbert Lewis Papers

33 diaries from the Sir John Herbert Lewis Papers from the period 1888-1924 are now available:

Seals and Ystrad Marchell Charters

 

A selection of documents and medieval seals from the Pitchford Hall Papers and the Estate Records of Penrice and Margam, Chirk Castle, Bronwydd and Wigfair, have been made available, for example:

33 Ystrad Marchell charters have also been made available and can be accessed via the catalogue.

Printed Material

Arthurian collection

 

A selection of volumes relating to King Arthur were selected for digitization in 2019. The following 13 volumes are already available and the work of digitizing the remaining items will continue over the coming months:

Biographies (1809-1889)

 

A further 913 biographies have been made available on the catalogue, including works such as:

Other printed works

 

203 other printed works have also been made available, including:

Maps and Graphic Material

D C Harries photographs

 

102 photographs taken around 1890-1936 by D C Harries of the scenery, buildings and people of the Llandovery, Llandeilo and Carmarthen area have been added to the catalogue. The selection includes photographs such as: Staff standing outside Lipton’s shop, Caerfyrddin, Staff standing outside Star Supply Stores, Llandeilo and Men in cars outside Crown garage – T. Roberts & Sons, Llanymddyfri

Archive of Historical Posters

 

Over 2,630 posters from NLW’s Historical Poster Archive are now accessible to users through the Universal Viewer. This fascinating collection includes a wide variety of items including emigration posters from Aberystwyth and Liverpool to America, ballads and songs, posters advertising local markets and auctions, concerts and ‘eisteddfodau’. The collection also includes a number of posters announcing news of crimes and murders, such as: the theft of John Philip’s mare (1818), the confession of John Griffiths after murdering his wife (1811) and ‘Murder’ (1796).

Dictionary of Welsh Biography

 

20 new articles have been added to the website:

Don’t forget to follow the Dictionary of Welsh Biography’s Twitter account: @WelshBiography

‘The Stroke of the Sun’: Heatwaves in the Archives

Collections - Posted 19-07-2021

Summer is here and with it comes the promise of finer weather. It could be said that commenting on the weather is one of our favourite pastimes here in Wales, and especially at this time of year when we are perhaps all wondering about the probability of a heatwave.

A look through the archives shows that our preoccupation with the weather is nothing new. One of the earliest mentions of a heatwave in Wales can be found in the medieval Welsh chronicle Brut Y Tywysogion (NLW Peniarth MS 20), which records that the year 720 saw a particularly hot summer (pan vu yr haf tessawc).

Brut Y Tywysogion –  (See p.66)

Gerald of Wales may have disagreed with this description – in the 12th century his Itinerarium Kambriae described the climate of the Welsh mountains as wet, cold, and windy, and remarked on the force of the winds (violenta ventorum) that never ceased to blow, which can be seen in a 14th-century copy, NLW MS 3024C (f. 59r).

Itinerarium Kambriae,  (See f. 59r)

Despite Gerald’s observation, hot weather remained much remarked upon in the centuries that followed, and July 1729 appears to have been a particular scorcher. Mary Davies wrote to her brother Adam Ottley of Pitchford Hall of her concern about the hot summer they were experiencing, and ‘not to hurry much about in town in hot weather for fear of put[t]ing y[ou]rself in a fever’.

This does however seem to be nothing compared to the summer of 1825. In August of that year, the antiquarian Iolo Morganwg (Edward Williams) wrote in a letter to his son Taliesin that the weather was ‘so hot that many people have fallen dead in the fields and highways by the Coup de soleil (stroke of the Sun)’.

According to the records of the Llysdinam estate, the summer of 1875 was very different. On June 15th, 1875 came a storm so violent that that it caused Richard Lister Venables of Llysdinam to remark that ’I don’t think I ever saw in June such a tempest of wind and rain as we have had’, and noted that it left their barn ‘flat on the ground’. (Llysdinam B1459, pictured below). Just two months later, on the 16th August, Venables wrote that it was ‘the hottest day of the year, with every appearance of lasting’ (Llysdinam B1462).

A meteorological record for Aberystwyth compiled by the New Club, Cheltenham also confirms that 1875 was a warm summer, recording a temperature high of 76F (24.4C) on the 7th of July. However 1876 appears to have been even hotter, recording a maximum temperature of 91F (32.7C) on the 17th of July in Aberystwyth.

In more recent times, the threat of climate change has increasingly made the weather a hot topic of conversation (pun intended), and it seems that changeable weather patterns will continue to form part of our records and conversations for a long time to come.

Lucie Hobson
Assistant Archivist

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Collecting BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) websites

Collections - Posted 12-07-2021

Collecting websites, an occupation of the National Library of Wales for number of years by now, has provided us with an opportunity to explore collections and voices, for one reason or another, may be under-represented by our print collections. BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) communities across Wales being one such significant voice.

Nowadays, much electronic collecting is done via archiving websites for the UK Web Archive, a consortium of the six UK legal deposit libraries (the British Library, the National Library of Scotland, the National Library of Wales, the Bodleian Library at Oxford University, Cambridge University Library, and Trinity College Dublin Library), which aims to collect all UK websites at least once a year.

This collecting of websites has enabled us to collect a plethora of information on BAME voices, communities, services and organisations across Wales. However, a further examination of the way we collected such websites provides a backdrop to the challenges we faced as National Libraries. Back in early 2000’s, when we began collecting websites, we included them within an online portal to validated websites. Crucially, despite providing access to these websites in the short term, we needed permission to archive websites to keep a permanent copy for future researchers. Websites were created quickly, changed regularly and sometimes disappeared altogether often without notice. This lack of permanence resulted in us losing this vital information. This so called ‘Digital Black Hole’ was to become our biggest challenge.

Looking back to our BAME collections in 2005, the websites often focused on, as today, on removing economic and social barriers to BAME communities across Wales. However, of the twenty or so BAME websites collected, many are no longer live, therefore regrettably lost to our collections. Even though we are aware of what existed c.2005, in most cases, we did not have permission to archive this content. The UK web Archive contains a snapshot of what we collected in the 2000s.

Thankfully, the Non-Print Legal Deposit Regulations 2013 went someway in addressing this issue and we are now entitled to copy UK-published material from the internet for archiving under Legal Deposit which is done through an automated process, known as web harvesting which collects millions of websites each year and billions of individual assets (pages, images, videos, pdfs etc.).

Returning to collecting BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) websites, we are now able to archive all websites that fall under the UK Web domain for researchers of the future. To improve access to BAME websites, the UK Web Archive have grouped them within a ‘Black and Asian Britain’ Collection, an ever-increasing growing collection which has over 750 websites listed, 138 of specific Welsh interest.

The National Library of Wales have collected a diverse collection of websites and a small number of twitter feeds covering BAME Organisations, Societies, Protest groups, Communities, Authors, Artists, Festivals, Music, Dance, Welfare, Education, to your local BAME Sports Clubs which have been archived by the UK Web Archive. This is a substantial increase from the handful of websites collected c.2005 to the hundreds that we collectively collect today along with the other UK Legal Deposit Libraries, but more importantly, have archived therefore available and accessible to researchers of the future.

There are still challenges. Access to websites archived under non-print legal deposit regulations is more restrictive than the internet in general. Even though we have archived the websites, most are only available to view on Library premises. Additionally, we contact website owners and request permission to make our archived copy publicly available through the UK Web Archive. We hope to have as many websites as possible accessible in this way.

It is good to say that this grouping of websites is one of our more valuable collections within the UK Web Archive but the wider aim is to encourage and build on our partnerships and feedback from external bodies and BAME communities to further develop and improve this collection of BAME related websites from across Wales and build on what we have so far collected. You are also most welcome to suggest any UK based website that you feel should be archived for the Black and Asian via the Save a website form to help us develop this collection of websites.

Aled Betts,
Acquisition Library and Web Archivist

 

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Reliving Campaigns from Two Decades Ago

Collections / New Accessions - Posted 05-07-2021

The period before an election is always a buy one for the Welsh Political Archive, we’re working to collect material from the campaign and members who are standing down, or wo lose their seats often get in touch to offer their papers.

A fascinating addition to the Ann Jones AM (Women’s Archive of Wales) papers. arrived at the Library during this busy period. Ann Jones presented her papers via the Women’s Archive of Wales as part of the Setting the Record Straight project. Which works with women who are or have been members of the Senedd to record their oral histories and arrange for their papers to go to an appropriate archive.

The first group of Ann Jones’ papers told the story of the Domestic Fire Safety (Wales) Measure 2011 and her background as a fire officer is clear in the recent addition. In 2000 a plan was published which would have resulted in merging all the fire control rooms in Wales including the north Wales control centre in Rhyl. Three files in the papers detail Ann Jones’ cmapaign to retain the control room in Rhys through letters, press releases and other documents.

The majority of the group records Ann Jones’ role in the campaign to ensure projects to support children in Wales following teh annoucement by the Children’s Society that they would withdraw from all their operations in Wales. The correspondence with the Chief Executive and trustees of the Children’s Society, bishops, staff and partners convey they shock and anger at the annoucement. The papers related to the UK Parliament Welsh Affairs Committee investigation pose some interesting questions and the hard work done in a working group established by Wales’ new Assembly to ensure that the projects continued is clear in the working papers, annoucments and correspondence. As a result, Tros Gynnal (https://www.tgpcymru.org.uk/) was established to continue the work.

This was a big story at the time but the real story is what went on behind the scenes. Thanks to Ann Jones, the whole story can now be told.

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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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