Blog - Research

Welsh Portrait Collection

Collections / Digitisation / News / News and Events / Research - Posted 27-06-2018

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 metadata 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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Welsh Newspapers Online- Writing ‘Notorious’

Collections / Digitisation / Research - Posted 26-06-2018

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

The Gladstone Pamphlets at the National Library of Wales

Collections / Research - Posted 18-06-2018

In January of this year Dr John Powell, Professor of History at Oklahoma State University, spent some time in the UK, both here at the National Library of Wales and in Gladstone’s Library in Hawarden, undertaking research into the Gladstone’s Pamphlet Collection. We are very grateful that Dr Powell kindly agreed to write this blog about the part of the collection which is based at the Library.

 

William Gladstone was a towering political figure in nineteenth-century Britain, a four-time prime minister who transformed Victorian finance and uniquely framed the political landscape in moral terms. Along with his keen mind and unparalleled capacity for work, he brought to every problem a little library of knowledge amassed from his voracious habit of reading. His library of more than 20,000 books was famous in its day. His books, taken together with the record of daily reading found in his diaries and the many annotations left in the margins, have become integral to the study of Gladstone’s intellectual and policy development. Scholars have only begun to notice that the world of Victorian intellectual discourse depended on a heady mix of books, journals, newspapers and the more ephemeral medium of the tract and pamphlet. As Leah Price observed, if we count “what was produced” instead of what has survived, the Victorians might properly be considered “people of the tract.”

 

We now know that Gladstone himself was a lifelong reader and collector of tracts. He utilized the medium to correct and quickly publish accurate records of his speeches, and to engage in timely debate when the editorial strictures of journal and book publishing hindered immediate response. He campaigned with A Chapter of Autobiography in 1868, defended the Church with The Vatican Decrees and their Bearing on Civil Allegiance in 1874, and quickened the international conscience with The Bulgarian Horrors and the Question of the East in 1876. It is impossible to say how many pamphlets passed through his hands, but it is estimated that some 10,000 are today extant, with the major collections being held at Gladstone’s Library in Hawarden, and at the National Library of Wales (NLW), where some 5,000 Gladstone tracts have proven to be an invaluable source for scholars of the Victorian era. Added to the inherent value of the tracts themselves, Gladstone’s own annotations in a significant percentage of them provide scholars with a kind of evidence not generally found in correspondence, memoranda, and public papers.

 

Even before Gladstone’s death in 1898, the British Museum had expressed interest in receiving the Gladstone Papers. But by 1921 when Hawarden Castle was inhabited by Gladstone’s third son, Henry Neville (b. 1852), the four-time prime minister seemed to be of another age. The trustees of the British Museum only wanted a selection of the pamphlets, and these merely to fill in their holdings. This provided an opportunity for NLW librarian John Ballinger to lobby the younger Gladstone, who served on the library’s Board of Governors.  As a result, Gladstone agreed to send pamphlets not wanted by the British Library to the National Library of Wales. The bulk of these were bound in 459 volumes and shelved as the “Gladstone Pamphlets.” Tracts from a later donation in 1932 remain unbound in 108 boxes, also labelled as “Gladstone Pamphlets.”

 

When Gladstone marked pamphlets in the first flush of new revelations or ideas, he often left a very personal glimpse of the feelings which later would be refined and incorporated into a speech, policy, publication, or attitude. Almost any volume of the “Gladstone Pamphlets” might provide a case in point. Pull volume 174 from the shelf, for instance, and you will find Gladstone’s personal copy of E. B. Pusey’s Entire Absolution of the Penitent, which he read on 8 March 1846. He had long admired Pusey’s spiritual temperament and commitment to Church reform, but by the mid-1840s had begun to doubt his elder colleague’s judgment. Upon reading Pusey’s phrase: “One word only of caution may be added to the young,” with its attending footnote:

“See Mr. Newman’s valuable Sermon, ‘Dangers to the Penitent’”

–Gladstone underlined “Newman’s valuable Sermon” and noted in the margin: “This is hardly decent, time considered”. Newman had converted to Rome less than four months earlier. Reading this comment in the original pamphlet preserved at the NLW is about as close to being with Gladstone in his study and in his head as we are likely to get.

 

John Powell

Professor of History

Oklahoma Baptist University

 

Carto-Cymru The Wales Map Symposium 2018 Synopsis of “Charting the seas …” 18th May

#LoveMaps / Collections / Events / Research - Posted 23-05-2018

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.

 

Gwilym Tawy

Map Curator

Hidden Histories in the historical Welsh Print Collection: The case of Louisa Calderon

Collections / Digitisation / News / Research - Posted 30-04-2018

Amongst the treasures in the Historic Welsh Print Collection is a large collection of Welsh and Welsh interest biographies dating from 1800 up to 1914. This collection, soon to be digitised, encompasses over 2000 biographies of figures in Welsh and international public life.

 

This unique collection includes biographies of clergy, politicians, social reformers, poets, authors and musicians of Welsh descent, of international figures, as well as slave narratives, biographies of ordinary people, of infamous criminals, and of emigrants from Wales to the USA and other countries.

 

In its entirety the collection offers a comprehensive picture of Welsh public life from the nineteenth century through to the beginning of the First World War, of the people and the issues that of were of concern during this period and also of how the Welsh viewed the world and how the world viewed the Welsh. They also offer the opportunity to discover hidden or previously forgotten histories that shed new light on some of the leading figures of the day.

 

One of the hidden histories we recently discovered in the collection was that of Sir Thomas Picton and the torture of Louisa Calderon. Thomas Picton is now mainly remembered for his exploits during the Peninsular War and for being the highest ranking officer killed at Waterloo. Indeed, his statue is among the 12 statues of Welsh heroes on display in Cardiff City Hall. However, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, following his time as governor of Trinidad he had a much darker reputation.

 

Picton’s governorship of Trinidad was authoritarian and brutal and led to his trial at the King’s Bench in 1806 accused of ordering the judicial torture of Louisa Calderon. Calderon was a 14-year old mulatto girl, accused of being involved in the theft of money from a Port of Spain businessman, Pedro Ruiz,  whom Louisa’s mother had arranged for her to live with a as a ‘mistress’ at age 11. The trial was a cause celebre at the time and is recounted in detail in The Trial of Governor T. Picton for Inflicting the Torture of Louisa Calderon… published in 1806.

 

 

Unable to get a confession through interrogation, Picton had issued the order to ‘Inflict the torture on Louisa Calderon’, who was subsequently subjected to piqueting, which at trial William Garrow, the prosecutor dubbed ‘Pictoning’. Calderon did not confess and was imprisoned for a further 8 months before being released. Picton admitted ordering the torture, but claimed that it was legal under the Spanish law still being administered in Trinidad at the time, despite the island being under British rule. The jury found him guilty, but Picton was never sentenced and the decision was partially reversed by special verdict at a retrial in 1808.

 

As noted above, the case became a sensation at the time and shone a light on the brutal realities of the British colonial system and indirectly of colonial slavery. Indeed, Picton had originally been accused of a number of other charges, included the execution of over a dozen slaves, although tellingly these were not viewed as being serious enough by the Privy Council to be taken further. Picton had also been a supporter of the development of slave plantations in Trinidad and had made part of his fortune through speculating in slaves.

 

Despite Picton’s well-deserved reputation as a brutal and autocratic colonial governor, following Waterloo all was quickly forgotten. The Newgate Calendar, which in 1810 had protested that Picton, the perpetrator of these crimes, was still at large was by 1825 portraying Picton as the victim in the case.

 

Despite the focus placed on her at the time, Louisa Calderon, largely disappeared from the historical record, although she is believed to have returned to Trinidad in 1808 and according to one source died in poverty in June 1825.

 

Sources

 

The Trial of Governor T. Picton for Inflicting the Torture on Louisa Calderon a Free Mulatto and one of His Britannic Majesty’s Subjects in the Island of Trinidad, (London, 1806).

James Epstein – ‘Politics of Colonial Sensation: The Trial of Thomas Picton and the Cause of Louisa Calderon’, American Historical Review, 112 (3), 2007

James Epstein – Scandal of Colonial Rule: Power and Subversion in the British Atlantic during the Age of Revolution, (Cambridge, 2012)

Kit Candlin – The Last Caribbean Frontier, 1795-1815, (Basingstoke, 2012)

 

Dr Douglas Jones

Published Collections Projects Manager

Old Periodicals, a New Datatype and Spiderfied Query Results in Wikidata

#LoveMaps / Collections / Digitisation / Research - Posted 20-04-2018

Several years ago the National Library of Wales appointed the Worlds first Wikidata Visiting Scholar. The volunteer, Simon Cobb, has worked with the library ever since to share, enrich and explore the library’s data using Wikidata – a massive open access linked data repository which contains tens of millions of pieces of data on just about every subject imaginable. In this guest blog, Simon presents his recent work, using open library data on periodicals, publishers and printers in conjunction with the latest Wikidata visualization tools. Jason Evans, National Wikimedian.

Recent developments in Wikidata have made it possible to display more items from the National Library of Wales’ collections on a map. A cluster feature in the Wikidata Query Service map view has enhanced geolocation data visualisation and the new geoshape datatype provides access points for content discovery.

Previously, the display of geolocated images was hampered by only one item per coordinate location being shown on the map. Since a SPARQL query can return multiple results with an identical location this was never an ideal situation. The problem is, in fact, inherent to linked data because every item with a specific relationship to a place will appear at exactly the same point on the map. This is due to the coordinates being attached to the place rather than each individual item.

If the item is an image of Aberystwyth Castle, it depicts the castle and, conversely, the castle is depicted by the image. This is a semantic relationship between the subject (image) and object (castle). The location of the castle is recorded as latitude and longitude coordinates, and thus a query to show on a map the location that the image depicts will use these coordinates. Other images that depicts Aberystwyth Castle will also have these exact coordinates.

 

The marker cluster plugin was implemented to address this problem and it is now possible to view two or more items with the same coordinates. Nearby map markers are grouped using an animated clustering functionality to display an increasing number of clusters, with fewer markers in each, as one zooms in closer. The real gamechanger, however, is the spiderfied markers. Rather than having a solitary marker at a shared location, multiple markers now spiral outwards from a central point, with legs being used to retain their attachment to the precise location and thus show all items in situ.

 

Spiderfied markers of periodicals published in Carmarthen. Unexpanded clusters and single markers are also shown. Each marker contains the periodical’s title, place of publication and cover image (if available). This map is available at: http://tinyurl.com/ycnjsylv.

 

Carmarthen is an important town in the early history of printing in Wales. Some twenty-eight titles in the Welsh Journals and Welsh Newspapers Online digital collections were printed in the town, with twenty-six being first issued before 1900. These periodicals have the same place of publication (i.e. Carmarthen), and thus appear on the map at their shared coordinates. The markers are spiderfied, colour coded according to decade of publication and arranged in a chronologically ordered spiral, starting in the centre with the earliest publication.

In late 2017, a new geoshape datatype was implemented in Wikidata. As the name suggests, it is for storing geographic information in a manner that will produce shapes on a map. Geoshape data can be a single marker at a specific point, a line between two or more points, or a shape, known as a polygon, which is the area enclosed by a point-to-point line, traversing at least four points, with the first and last point being identical. A line or shape is created by structuring geocoordinates to represent the relationship between a series of points; somewhat like a dot-to-dot puzzle. Additional data about a place, such as the address, postcode, website or Wikipedia article, can be attached to a geoshape.

 

The National Library of Wales was the UK’s first Wikidata geoshape. The popup information box includes an image, link to the NLW Wikipedia article and SPARQL queries of the Library’s collections. Markers indicate features of interest and provide images from different vantage points.

 

Since a geoshape can contain multiple points, lines and polygons, it is possible to store data about a group of related locations like, for example, buildings with a similar use. This is a great way to visualise the booktrade locations in Wales that have been added to Wikidata.

Multipolygon geoshape data showing book trade locations in Carmarthen, past and present. These locations and those in other parts of Wales are stored as a single geoshape in Wikimedia Commons (see https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Data:Book_trade_in_Wales.map).

Whilst the book trade locations geoshapes are relatively simple and, therefore, not burdensome to create manually, others, like, for instance, those of castles depicted in the Welsh Landscape Collection, are much more complex. The intricate geoshapes that are formed by sections of perimeter wall between towers or bastions and surrounding the bailey and keep of a castle can be slow and fiddly to make but, luckily, we can draw on linked data instead. A link is forged when an OpenStreetMap feature is tagged with a Wikidata ID and this enables a SPARQL query to retrieve OpenStreetMap data about Wikidata items in the results. Such linking can make a large amount of existing geoshape data accessible.

 

Geoshapes of buildings shown in the Welsh Landscape Collection prints shown in the historic counties of Wales. The buildings are OpenStreetMap features, tagged with the qid of a Wikidata item returned by a SPARQL query, imported as geoshape data and combined with historic county geoshapes from Wikimedia Commons.

 

Geoshapes of buildings shown in the Welsh Landscape Collection prints shown in the historic counties of Wales. The buildings are OpenStreetMap features, tagged with the qid of a Wikidata item returned by a SPARQL query, imported as geoshape data and combined with historic county geoshapes from Wikimedia Commons.

The results of a SPARQL query to retrieve images from the Welsh Landscape Collection can be visualised on a map with geoshapes to represent the building depicted. Shown above, the results for Tintern Abbey are spiderfied to expand a cluster of images with an identical geocoordinates from a single point within the geoshape. Previously, it was only possible to display one of these images on the map view results.

 

Simon Cobb, Wikidata Visiting Scholar at the National Library of Wales

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The David Hawkes Collection

Digitisation / Research - Posted 14-03-2018

Amongst the National Library of Wales’s most important Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic collections is the David Hawkes collection, a rich collection of mainly Chinese books and books of Chinese interest. The collection also includes a smaller set of Japanese books and books of Japanese interest.

 

David Hawkes (1923-2009) was a celebrated Sinologist and translator, best known for his translations of Cao Xueqin’s The Story of the Stone, one of China’s ‘four great novels’, and of the poetry anthology The Song of the South. Hawkes’s translation of The Story of the Stone has rightly been recognised  as one of the finest examples of the translators art, which made the work more accessible to English-language readers while remaining sensitive and faithful to the language, meaning and poetry of the original.

 

The David Hawkes Collection is his working library which Hawkes donated to the National Library in 1983-84 and is one of the most important collections of Chinese books in the UK. The collection is comprised of 1,710 titles in 4,400 volumes including a large number of works on Chinese literature, alongside works on Chinese philosophy, religion, history, music, art and archaeology. The collection also includes annotated works from the collection of another renowned Sinologist and translator, Arthur Waley, who was a friend and mentor to Hawkes.

 

In 1989 The Hawkes Collection was catalogued on to cards by Dr Wu Jianzhong, later Director of Shanghai Library, as part of his training whilst studying at Aberystwyth for a research degree. At present the collection is only accessible via this card catalogue, however the Library is currently in the process of developing a project with the aim of making the collection accessible via our online catalogue as well as digitising some of the  works in the collection.

 

Dr Douglas Jones

Published Collections Projects Manager

Edmund Jones, “The Old Prophet”

Collections / Research - Posted 30-10-2017

Tomorrow is Halloween – the eve of All Hallows’ or All Saints’ Day. It is also the anniversary of what is regarded as the start of the Protestant Reformation – the appearance of Matrin Luther’s 95 theses. This year is special – it is the 500th anniversary of the event.

 

So it is an ideal time to draw attention to one of the Library’s more fascinating collections. Edmund Jones (1702-93) of Pontnewydd near Pontypool was popularly known as Yr Hen Broffwyd (the Old Prophet) and his library of books is the most interesting if not the only chapel library of such rarity to have survived in Wales. It comprises 80 volumes of Welsh and English Protestant sermons and theological writings, mainly from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, almost all of which have been marked by Edmund Jones. Some have detailed notes, such as his opinion on the contents of the volume and from whom he received it; in two of the books he wrote inside that they were given to him by John Wesley. The books have all been catalogued by myself, and are therefore available for users to read and research the impact that these early Protestant sermons had on Jones and the Welsh public.

 


Edmund Jones was deeply interested in the new Methodist movement in Wales in the 18th century pioneered by men such as Howell Harris, Daniel Rowland and William Williams, Pantycelyn, (whose birth was celebrated this year and noted in this blog a couple of weeks ago). His form of Christianity was more experiential and heartfelt than the cerebral form which was still favoured by many in the established Anglican Church at the time. He professed a belief in spiritualism and apparitions which may have been derived from the new ideas spreading at the time. His reputation in this regard rests on his alias of The Old Prophet and a book which he wrote entitled Relations of Apparitions in Wales. This contains accounts of alleged supernatural occurrences in Wales, which Jones attested to. Can you, the reader, find any evidence in some of the notes seen in his books (see images above) to confirm some of his strange beliefs?

 

 

Hywel Lloyd,

 

Assistant Librarian

A look back at the ’97 Referendum using the Library’s electronic resources

Reader Services / Research - Posted 22-09-2017

This week saw the 20th anniversary of the Welsh referendum that paved way for the creation of the National Assembly for Wales. I decided to see what I could discover about this historic occasion within the Library’s various online subscriptions.  (*To access these resources from outside the Library building you will have to use your reader’s ticket. If you haven’t got a reader’s ticket you can register very easily here).

Whilst support for devolution was low during the first referendum in 1979, the ensuing political and economic landscape over the next decade and a half led to increased calls for a second referendum. As a result, the Labour party included proposals for a second referendum in their 1992 manifesto, and after their landslide victory in the 1997 general election, these were set in motion.

The Referenda (Scotland and Wales) Act asked voters if they were in favour of devolution for Scotland and Wales. Many commentators analysed what devolution would mean for the future of the United Kingdom, as can be seen in this article from ‘The World Today’:

 

The referendum was held on the 18th of September 1997, and unlike the referendum in 1979, the result was extremely close. In fact, the votes were so close, the result hung on the announcement from Carmarthenshire. As the result came in, there were wild celebrations amongst the Yes campaigners as devolution was secured by a margin of 6,721 votes.

The Guardian reports for the days after both Welsh referenda can be seen here and here:

 

As a result of this narrow victory, the Government of Wales Act 1998 was passed by the Labour government to create a National Assembly for Wales:

 

There was a concern that the low voter turnout meant that voters were apathetic towards the notion of a national assembly, however this study by Roger Scully, Richard Wyn Jones and Dafydd Trystan concludes that this was not the case:

 

However, even though Welsh devolution was achieved by the narrowest of margins, Richard Wyn Jones and Bethan Lewis were keen to point out that the result was a substantial achievement for those in the ’Yes’ campaign

 

Following such a momentous change to the country’s political landscape, and following further referendums in 2006 and 2011, it’s only natural that commentators and scholars have sought to discuss and evaluate the impact of devolution on various aspects of life in Wales:

Evaluating Devolution in Wales by Adrian Kay

Serving the Nation: Devolution and the Civil Service in Wales by Alistair Cole

New Labour, Education and Wales: the devolution decade by David Reynolds

Devolution and the shifting political economic geographies of the United Kingdom

 

Paul Jackson

Legal Deposit, Electronic and Acquisitions Librarian

Wici-Iechyd (Wiki-Health)

Events / News / News and Events / Research - Posted 15-09-2017

Improving online access to Welsh language health information

The newly appointed National Wikimedian at the National Library of Wales will begin in his new role by tackling an important issue facing Welsh speakers – access to free, quality information on important health and wellbeing issues in Welsh.

Wicipedia is the most viewed Welsh language website in the world with over 90,000 articles. A recent audit of the content revealed that Welsh Wikipedia has very few articles about health and yet the few articles which do exist are, on average, being viewed more times than articles on any other subject. This suggests that Welsh speakers want to consume information about their health in Welsh, through Wicipedia.

  • Welsh Wicipedia has 1,500 Welsh language articles on health compared to 84,000 in English
  • 2.09% of Welsh Wikipedia articles about Health – 6.67% in English
  • Views of Welsh articles about health make up 12% of total page views, more than any other subject.

It is thought that Wikipedia has become the most consulted health resource in the world (based on 4.8 billion pageviews in 2013) and therefore it is vital that it contains reliable, comprehensive information on all aspects of health, from medications, and surgical procedures to fitness, wellbeing and historical information.

It is estimated that poor health costs Wales billions each year, and free easy access to health information through the medium of Welsh (on Wicipedia) would help provide the public with the information they need in a format they are familiar with.

The project, funded by the Welsh Government, will see the National Library of Wales hold a series of public events across Wales, to teach and encourage Health professionals, Medical students and the general public to help improve health content on Wikipedia.

The National Wikimedian will also seek partnerships with charities and institutions who already produce Welsh language health content with the aim of working together to provide access to this content through Wicipedia, with links back to their own online services.

It is hoped that the 9 month project will result in the creation of 3000 new Welsh language health related articles on Wicipedia.

This project aligns with the mission of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015, namely, to help develop A healthier Wales and A Wales of vibrant culture and thriving Welsh language. The National Library of Wales is one of the Government’s key partners in delivering on the act.

The project will also help the Library to engage with new communities and develop new partnerships in the education and health sectors in order to promote and develop the use of Welsh as a digital language.

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About this blog

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

Due to the more personal nature of blogs it is the Library's policy to publish postings in the original language only. An equal number of blog posts are published in both Welsh and English, but they are not the same postings. For a translation of the blog readers may wish to try facilities such as Google Translate.

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