Blog - Collections

Posted - 11-06-2019

Collections / music

Mansel Thomas: famed musician and composer

This week, the National Library commemorates 110 years since the birth of Mansel Thomas, one of Wales’s consummate composers and musicians. Born on 12 June 1909 in the Rhondda, he made his mark as an influential musician. He worked for the BBC for thirty years with the recently-formed BBC Welsh Orchestra and as the Head of Music for BBC Wales. This is an opportunity for us to celebrate his life and his notable contribution to music in Wales on what would have been his birthday.



An exhibition of some of the work of Mansel Thomas from the Library’s collections will be on display in the Summer’s Room to accompany a talk by Terence Gilmore-James on the man himself on 12 June 2019. The exhibition will include:

  • Music workbook compiled during the period 1918-1925, with the earliest pieces copied with the help of his father, Theophilus Thomas. (Mansel Thomas Music Manuscripts, J1/1)


  • A volume containing the full score of the cantata ‘God is our hope and strength’ with words from the 46th Psalm, submitted as part of his B.Mus. degree from Durham University, [1930]. ]. (Mansel Thomas Music Manuscripts, J1/60)


  • The wining composition for composing Six unison songs with simple accompaniment suitable for infants’ schools at The Royal National Eisteddfod of Wales Aberafan-Port Talbot, 1932. (Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Cymru – cyfansoddiadau a beirniadaethau, 1932/39)


  • Manuscript score of ‘To Daffodils (Cennin Aur)’, composed in the mid/late 1920s especially for the newly-formed Pendyrus Male Choir. (Mansel Thomas Music Manuscripts, M1/1)


  • Vocal score of the anthem ‘Blest are the pure in heart’, composed by Mansel Thomas ‘For Terence and Grace on the Occasion of their Wedding’, 1965. (Mansel Thomas Music Manuscripts, P2/14)


  • Orchestral score ‘God bless the Prince of Wales’ by Brinley Richards, arranged and orchestrated by Mansel Thomas for ‘For the Investiture of HRH The Prince of Wales, Caernarvon, July 1969’. (Mansel Thomas Music Manuscripts, M4/2i)


  • Preliminary sketches of a vocal score for ‘Requiem’ composed by Mansel Thomas. Also, some related letters from Megan Thomas, the composer’s wife, to Ian Parrott, discussing the printing of the first movement. (Mansel Thomas Music Manuscripts, P2/18; UW Aberystwyth Department of Music Archives, 18/2)


  • The vocal score of ‘Mass for mixed voices’ in five movements and an arrangement for solo voice and string orchestra of ‘Wrth fynd efo Deio i Dowyn’, 1943. (Mansel Thomas Music Manuscripts, P2/17; T2/11.)


The Mansel Thomas Music Manuscripts have recently been cataloged as part of the Welsh Music Archive Program. You can view the archive descriptions here. Further information about his life and work is available on the National Library blog (Welsh only).


Robert Evans
Welsh Music Archive Project Officer

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Collections / Digitisation / News / Research

Treasured Manuscript collection gets the Wikidata Treatment

Converting metadata to linked open data.

The Peniarth Manuscripts form one of the most important collections held by the National Library of Wales. Its 560 manuscripts date from the 11th Century onward and contain some of the most important and iconic Welsh literary works in existence, including stories from the Mabinogion, the Book of Taliesin and the earliest copies of the ancient Laws books of Wales. In 2010 the collection was included in the UNESCO UK Memory of the World Register, further underlining its importance as a national treasure.


The collection has of course been catalogued and digitisation of the entire collection is currently underway. So now seemed like a good time to explore the potential of linked data in order to better understand and explore the makeup of the collection.



At the National Library of Wales we have now converted collection Metadata to Wikidata for a number of collections including paintings and printed material. This has lead to an enrichment of data and easy access to tools for querying and visualizing the collections. Creating Wikidata for each of the Peniarth manuscripts would result in similar advantages, but first the existing metadata would have to be cleaned and refined before being mapped to entities within Wikidata. Some mappings were easy, for example metadata tags for parchment and paper were easily matched to the relevant Wikidata entities. Dates and measurements simply needed formatting in a particular way in order to add them to Wikidata, and the QuickStatements (QS) upload tool contains detailed instructions on how to do this.


Much of the data already existed in set data fields making mappings fairly straight forward. However the metadata for many manuscripts also included a text based description of the item, which in many cases included additional information such as the names of scribes and people whose works are represented within the manuscript (authors). Extracting this data was more difficult. By filtering searches for specific sentence structures and/or certain keywords it was possible to semi automate the extraction of this data, but it also required manual checking to avoid mistakes. Once the names, works, subjects and genres were extracted they then had to be matched to Wikidata items. If these items did not yet have a Wikidata item, they were created whenever possible using data from other sources.



The ontology for describing manuscripts on Wikidata is still being tweaked, so in order to properly separate and describe both the scribe/copyist of a work and the authors of works included in a manuscript it was necessary to create a new property on Wikidata, which can now be used to describe the scribe, calligrapher or copyist of a manuscript work.


Once the data was prepared in a spreadsheet it was uploaded to Wikidata in stages using the Quickstatements tool. We also uploaded sample images of the 100 or so manuscripts which have already been digitised to Wikimedia Commons. Since the implementation of structured data on Commons any upload which links to the relevant item on Wikidata it now pulls in much of the relevant descriptive data automatically, meaning there is a lot less work involved in preparing a batch upload of images than in days gone by. Since the National Library uses IIIF technology to display its digital assets, we also included persistent id’s to our image viewer and links to IIIF manifests in our Wikidata upload.


Once the data is uploaded it can immediately be queried and explored using the Wikidata SPARQL Query Service. This tool has a suit of visualisation options, but there are a number of other useful visualisation tools which can be used in conjunction with a sparql query without the need for any coding knowledge, such as the Wikidata Visualisation suit and RAWGraphs.


In many cases it is technically possible to retrieve the same data from standard Metadata as you can from the linked data – it’s just that we don’t have the tools to easily do so. For example we could easily list manuscripts from smallest to largest, or oldest to youngest, or perhaps explore the relationship between the size of a manuscript and the date it was created.



Interestingly, this query clearly shows a trend of increasing size in the manuscripts over time and it also seems to point to a trend towards producing manuscripts of similar sizes at different periods in time.


We can also easily analyze data about the language of the works in the collection. It’s worth remembering that many works contain texts in more than one language, but we know that 43% of items contain Welsh language text whilst 33% contain English and 19% contain Latin.


See the Sparql Query

Whilst this is definitely useful, the extra information extracted from text descriptions in the metadata begins to enrich and add further value to the data, allowing us to perform new queries on the data. For example we can attempt to break down the collection by genre and main subject for the first time. This of course is only as accurate as the original data, and in some cases the variety of content within a single manuscript makes it impossible to apply an overarching content type, but in terms of research and discoverability, the data certainly provides new insight. For example, we can identify all manuscripts which contain correspondence, and then see who the main subject of those correspondence are, and because Wikidata is linked data we could then access biographical data about those people.


See the full visualization on Wikimedia Commons. See the Sparql Query

Many of the manuscripts in the Peniarth collection include copies or partial copies of other notable works, in fact some of the manuscripts are copies of other manuscripts in the same collection. Using Wikidatas ‘Exemplar of’ property it was possible to connect the manuscripts to data items for the works they contained. Again, I suspect the original metadata does not identify all the works included in the manuscripts so the results of any query will not be exhaustive but they will represent all of the current data in our catalogue.


See the full visualization on Wikimedia Commons. See the Sparql Query

We can see from the visualisation the no fewer than 22 manuscripts contain text from the codification of Welsh Law by Hywel Dda, 21 manuscripts are copies of other manuscripts in the collection and 12 are exemplars of various printed books.


Using the newly created Scribe property on Wikidata we have been able to link data for each manuscript to the data items for every scribe mentioned in the metadata. Three scribes stand out as the most prolific, with their hand writing appearing in dozens of Manuscripts. Two of the three, Robert Vaughan of Hengwrt and W.W.E Wynne of Peniarth once owned much of the collection and did much to annotate and copy the texts. The third, John Jones, was a well known collector and scribe, and is credited with copying many texts which might otherwise have been lost forever. By exploring which scribes contributed to which manuscripts we can identify connection between otherwise unconnected individuals.


See the Sparql Query

Finally, it’s important to underline the fact that Wikidata doesn’t just allow us to explore individual collections in new ways, it acts as a hub, joining collections together in an ever expanding web of cultural heritage data. We have added a lot of data for people in the Dictionary of Welsh Biography for example, and a simple query now allows us to identify all of those who contributed to the Peniarth collection.


In the same way, we can link to collections in other institutions, many of whom are also beginning to add their collections to Wikidata. Oxford University is one such institution and this means that manuscripts of Welsh interest at Jesus College like the Book of the Anchorite of Llanddewi Brefi and the Red Book of Hergest are now connected through linked data to the copies of those manuscripts in the Peniarth Collection.


Run the live query on the Wikidata Query Service

As more and more collections are added to this huge linked open network we will increasingly be able to reconcile, explore and make sense of our combined cultural heritage, which for hundreds of years has existed in closed silos. By applying new technology and Open licensing, cultural institutions can now breath new life into old data, and reach a wider audience than ever before.


Jason Evans

National Wikimedian

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Posted - 07-06-2019

Collections / Story of Wales

Street Literature: Welsh Almanacs


Almanacs were the favourite reading material of monoglot Welsh speakers right from the 17th century!

Affordable literatures, such as the almanac, were particularly popular with the lower classes, which made up most of Wales’ population. Between c. 1545 and 1801, the population of Wales saw a staggering increase – in fact, it more than doubled. Most of these people were monoglot Welsh speakers.

But what exactly is an almanac, and what made it such a favourite?

The defining feature of an almanac is its annual calendar, and in this sense, its history predates the printing press by several millennia. The near East produced texts considered to be almanacs as long ago as 500BC. However, it was only after the development of printing that almanacs truly began to gain popularity.

The first printed almanac was produced in Europe in 1457. Yearly almanacs were printed in England from the late 16th century and these became bestsellers during the succeeding century. The first Welsh-language almanac was soon to follow.



It is with Thomas Jones (1648-1713), a tailor’s son from Tre’r Ddôl near Corwen, that the story of the Welsh almanac begins.

In 1679, when he was 18-years-old, Jones was granted a royal patent for writing and publishing an annual Welsh-language almanac. These were published in London, under the title ‘Newyddion Oddiwrth y Ser’ (‘News From the Stars’).

Jones’ almanacs were between 20 and 24 leaves in length. They contained, along with the typical yearly calendar, material that was directed at their intended readership.

The first Welsh almanacs featured:

  • Weather forecasts and moon phases
  • Lists of markets and fairs
  • Astronomical guides and readings
  • Christian holidays
  • Tide tables
  • Welsh-language reading guides
  • Samples of Welsh literature and poetry
  • A chronology of historical events
  • Various advertisements



Jones’ almanacs were useful resources for the poor Welsh, particularly farmers; consider, for example, their environmental and weather related content. Astrological features also fulfilled the folk’s superstitious beliefs. Jones was a known supporter of amateur Welsh writers and he gave them a printed platform through his almanac.

Thomas Jones’ almanac remained one of a kind until 1695, when the Printing Act (which had restricted book-publishing to London, Oxford and Cambridge) came to an end. From then on, the printing industry spread throughout England and Wales, resulting in an increase in the number of Welsh almanac titles. Their contents, however, strayed little from Jones’ original format.

The Welsh almanac stands apart from its European cousins. Their contents varied from the medical lore of England’s medieval almanacs to the administrative organisation of France; as featured in the French ‘Royal Almanac’, founded in 1683. That the Italian ‘Barbanera’ (first published in 1762) is today included in UNESCO’s ‘Memory of the World’ Register gives a clear indication of an almanac’s value.

The Welsh almanac is certainly no exception. It is a valuable resource, not only in terms of literary, vernacular, and social history, but also as a work of great heritage significance.

Steffani W. Davies, The National Library of Wales

Posted - 06-06-2019


D-Day 75: Remembering the Normandy landings

Seventy-five years ago, on Tuesday 6 June 1944, Allied forces landed on the beaches of Normandy in what was the biggest naval, land and air military operation in history. D-Day marked the beginning of the long campaign, code named ‘Operation Overlord, to liberate north-west Europe from Nazi occupation.


Tens of thousands of troops, mainly from the UK, US and Canada, attacked German forces on five beaches on the northern coast of France: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword. In the early hours of the morning, troops were parachuted in to enemy territory before infantry and armoured divisions began landing on the beaches, supported by nearly 7,000 naval vessels.


Plans for Operation Overlord began many months before the invasion. Over two million troops from more than 12 countries had arrived in Britain by 1944 in preparation. This included a battalion of American soldiers who were posted at Island Farm Camp in Bridgend. The huts had been built to house workers from the nearby munitions factory but had been empty until the Americans arrived in October 1943. It is said that General Dwight D. Eisenhower himself visited the camp in April 1944 to address the troops before their departure for France. Island Farm later became a prisoner of war camp for German officers. Read more about the Camp on People’s Collection Wales.



Leslie Illingworth (1902-1979), the Welsh political cartoonist, joined the Daily Mail in 1939 and the majority of his early work held at the National Library relates to the events of the Second World War. His depiction of the Normandy landings, dated 9 June 1944, is particularly striking and evokes the style of the Bayeux Tapestry. It shows Allied soldiers attacking the Germans on the beaches. Churchill, Montgomery and Eisenhower are looking down from above and Hitler, along with his other generals, is looking on with concern.


By the end of D-Day, the Allies had established a small foothold in France, which led to the liberation of Paris and eventually defeat over Nazi Germany. Over 150,000 Allied troops and 10,000 military vehicles were delivered to the Normandy coast during the day. Approximately 4,400 of those men were killed and a further 10,000 wounded.


“At dawn’s first light on 6th June our longest day began.” (NLW Facs 1028)

Posted - 03-06-2019


Emyr Humphreys at 100

Emyr Humphreys, one of Wales’ most prominent and pioneering novelists, recently celebrated his one-hundredth birthday. His influence on Welsh literature has been substantial. Indeed, he was described by the poet R. S. Thomas as ‘‘the supreme interpreter of Welsh life’.

He was born in Trelawnyd near Prestatyn, Flintshire. He attended Rhyl Secondary School before studying history at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. After the commencement of the First World War he registered as a conscientious objector and worked as a farm hand before being sent to the Middle East and Italy as a support worker in 1944 and 1946. After the war he worked as a teacher, producer with the BBC and as a drama lecturer at Bangor University before deciding in 1972 to focus on his writing.



Emyr Humphreys has published over twenty novels and has won many awards for his work, including the Maugham Somerset Award for Hear and Forgive in 1953, and the Hawthornden Prize for A Toy Epic in 1958. He also won the Wales Book of the Year in 1992 for Bonds of Attachment, and again in 1999 for The Gift of a Daughter. In addition, he won the inaugural Siân Phillips Award for his contribution to radio and television in Wales in 2004. The novelist, who also turned his hand to poetry and non-fiction, has also published a cultural history of Wales, The Taliesin Tradition (1983), which looks at Welsh identity through the literature and history of Wales.

His comprehensive archive was purchased by the National Library in 1994. It mainly includes his personal and professional correspondence, and manuscript and typescript copies of his published and unpublished works. The archive is vast – 79 boxes in all – which is testament to his lengthy career putting pen to paper about life in Wales. The catalogue is available to browse via the Library’s Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue.

The National Library would like to wish him the very best on this special occasion.

Posted - 20-05-2019


Is Hansard turning in his grave?

Time was short between the referendum on devolution in Wales on 18th September 1997 and the first meeting of the National Assembly for Wales on 12th May 1999. The staff tasked with setting things up had less than 2 years to get everything in place and the law to establish the Assembly, which gave them the final framework received royal assent on 31st July 1998, less than a year before the first elections.

Among the many elements to establish was a system for recording and publishing the Assembly’s debates and decisions. There is no manual on setting up a parliament, so following good practice in other parliaments is the obvious option. In this case there was a clear precedent, followed by parliaments across the Commonwealth, Hansard. The United Kingdom Parliament had authorized the recording of transactions in printed bound volumes only since 1909, although individuals such as William Cobbett (1763–1835) and Thomas Curson Hansard (1776–1833) had been unofficially publishing them for over a century before that. The Scottish Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly also decided to establish their own versions of Hansard.




The first volume of the Official Record of National Assembly proceedings was printed and recorded the first words spoken in the Assembly by the Secretary of State for Wales, Alun Michael, on 12th May 1999:

Good morning. This is an historic day for everybody in Wales. Having elected our Assembly for the first time ever, we now meet officially for the first time. As Secretary of State for Wales and as Member of Parliament for Cardiff South and Penarth, I welcome you here today.


As a new parliament, the National Assembly intended to take advantage of the developing technology to be transparent. From the beginning the Assembly had a website, and the Official Record was published there. The printed version lasted a little more than 1 year and after October 2000, the authorised version of the Record was only published on the web.

The Assembly’s proceedings were filmed from the start and between 1999 and 2007 they were broadcast on S4C2. Since 2007 they are available on the website. There are links to the written record so that someone watching the video can see read the transcript as well as the relevant agenda and papers. There are also links from the Record to the relevant art of the audiovisual file. This opens Assembly proceedings to a much wider audience than the traditional bound volumes.



The Official Record was bilingual in Welsh and English from the beginning, with the first words on the opening day recorded in Welsh together with an English translation. The system continues to this day, with audio-visual files on Senedd TV giving the option of listening in the original language or with simultaneous translation into English.

Twenty years since the first meeting of the National Assembly for Wales it is difficult to think that this kind of access to the Record is revolutionary. Filming and broadcasting of the UK Parliament was only authorised in 1989 and the UK Parliament’s Hansard only became available on the internet in 1997.

The Assembly continues to make adjustments to improve access to the Record. Now the record is much more interactive, with the ability to go directly to a specific piece of business, links from the Record to information about the Am who is speaking and functions to enable copying and sharing  on social media. Senedd TV provides a similar service, allowing users to make and share clips. Today’s Record is a world away from the basic PDF Record of the early meetings.

Reporting Assembly debates on the web, and having audio-visual files recordings would be totally alien to Hansard, but what would he have thought? Would he be turning in his grave? I doubt it! His aim was to make parliamentary proceedings available to the people. I am sure that it would be very delighted, if somewhat surprised, that the work of those who came after him have opened up our democratic institutions to scrutiny in a way he couldn’t have possibly imagined.

Rob Phillips
National Assembly for Wales Archive and The Welsh Political Archive

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Posted - 16-05-2019

Collections / Events / News / Research

Wikimedia and the culture sector – A new impact study.

In December 2017 the Library’s National Wikimedian began work on a Welsh Government funded project to improve the quality of information about people related to Wales on the Welsh language Wikipedia.

The entire project was planned using Europeana’s new Impact Playbook with the aim of exploring and document the changes, or impacts, to different stakeholder groups of delivering a range of Wikimedia based activities focused around collections at The National Library of Wales.

A full impact report for the project has now been published.

The Impact Playbook works by creating clearly defined change pathways with measurable outcomes (or changes) during the planning process, insuring that a wide range of outcomes and desired impacts can be assessed and measured at the end of the project.

This is the first time a project focused on Wikipedia based activities has been assessed in this way, so this was a great opportunity to explore and document the impact of working with Wikimedia in the culture sector.



The project focused around the release of 4,862 Welsh portraits to Wikimedia Commons, with an emphasis on improving access to Welsh language content and providing opportunities for the public to engage through the medium of Welsh.

Bilingual Wikidata was created for each portrait. This data was used to help create nearly 1,500 new Welsh Wikipedia articles, utilizing 25% of the images. The images generated 1.6 million page views in 55 languages in the space of a month, greatly increasing access to information about Welsh people.

Working with Menter Iaith Môn, a series of events were held at schools highlighting how Wikipedia-based learning can contribute positively to schools’ targets for the Welsh language and digital literacy.

A ‘hackathon’ event demonstrated the value of open data to the creative industries in Wales and a number of use cases were documented.

The project demonstrates how working with Wikimedia can help cultural heritage institutions build and support new communities and achieve outcomes which align with their core values whilst increasing access to, and use of, their digital collections.

Jason Evans

National Wikimedian

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Collections / Digitisation / Discover Sound / News / Screen and Sound

From Planting Crops to Planting Trees: Telling the Story of the Forest

For the last 14 weeks as part of the Unlocking Our Sound Heritage project, the Library has welcomed 10 students from the MA Archive Administration and MSc Digital Curation courses from Aberystwyth University’s Department of Information Studies to work on one of our sound collections. We would like to thank the students for all their hard work and contribution towards the project, and to Crystal Guevara for writing this Blog about their time spent with us.




Timber, forest fires, road building, and World War II stories are just some of the subjects that are covered in a collection made up of 167 MiniDiscs, each containing interviews recorded from people who worked for or around the Forestry Commission.

As part of the Unlocking Our Sound Heritage project, the National Library of Wales is working on preserving and making available sound recordings that tell the story of wales through oral histories. Dr. Sarah Higgins, professor at Aberystwyth University arranged for ten students in the post-graduate Archive Administration course to help the Library work on a project called the Story of the Forest.

I was one of ten students that got to work on the project and I found that my appreciation for the people who had started the work for this story grew from admiration to urgency so that more people could hear and learn from the experiences of the forest workers who transformed the landscape of rural Wales.

The majority of these recordings are in Welsh, the remainder being in English. To place you somewhere in the timeline of history we’re talking about mid-Twentieth Century Wales. Due to a high demand for timber, the Forestry Commission bought slate quarries and farms to transform those areas into plots for forestry farming. Naturally, this meant an adjustment in lifestyle and some people adjusted well to it while others longed for the way that things used to be. The people who were a part of these changes weren’t interviewed until 2002 and 2003 by a team of interviewers who were motivated to get on record the rich details of this time of transition and change.

Because the interviews were recorded on MiniDiscs, they needed to be rescued from becoming completely inaccessible, since so much of the technology around MiniDiscs has already become obsolete. So, our job as archive students was to digitise the recordings on the MiniDiscs, catalogue all of the interviews, transcribe them, and then put together an online exhibit to showcase some of these interviews along with old photographs provided by the interviewees. To get all of this done we got to work with some of the Library staff. They gave us guidance on what to do and we in turn strategized the timetable and roles and responsibilities.



Everyone on the team got to perform unique tasks and we sought to rotate everyone through all the necessary jobs to get a chance at trying different things out. Each task required a different learning process and each one was vital to make these stories publicly available.

During the digitising I was able to appreciate having technology that allowed us to continue preserving these stories. While transcribing, I got to hear first-hand the core of what we were doing. Listening to the interviews, was insightful and eye-opening. They contain stories about forestry policy, road building, nursery work, farm life, and other topics like Land Army Girls, Prisoners of War, and life post-World War II. Then, while cataloguing we strived to do things meticulously, but efficiently to create useable information that would help future users navigate through the collection.

To become more connected with the project and feel the real human connection with the interviewees and their stories, we organized a trip to Corris. Corris is one of the places mentioned often in the oral histories and only a 40-minute drive from Aberystwyth. While we were there, we could see for ourselves the different types of trees in their separate sections, covering the hills. We took pictures of our visit to include in the online exhibit and add our own perspective to continue telling the story of the forest.

 It was a great journey beginning to end. As we are only aspiring archivists at the moment, we relied heavily on the knowledge of all the library staff helping us work the technology and understand the metadata standards. Alison Smith, Berian Elias, Rhodri Shore, Gruffydd Jones, and Elena Gruffudd were especially helpful. That in and of itself was a lesson applicable in how to help and educate people who are learning to use archives.



To see these oral histories start off in a cardboard box and now find them searchable on the British Library catalogue brought a great sense of accomplishment for the entire team.

17 of these stories are now available to listen to online on the People’s Collection Wales website, along with more detailed stories about the specific process of cataloguing, digitising, transcribing, and work on the exhibit.


Crystal Guevara

MA Archives Administration

Posted - 15-05-2019

Collections / News / Screen and Sound

International Conscientious Objectors’ Day

As International Conscientious Objectors’ Day is taking place across the globe today – 15th May, The National Library of Wales’ Screen and Sound Archive would like to draw your attention to a short film available on the BFI Player entitled Defending This Country Only Means Attacking Another.  The title was taken from a Peace Pledge Union [PPU] placard seen in the film which was shot by Mr J. Fred Phillips, a cinema operator in Brynmawr  from 1923 to 1958.  He was also captain of the Monmouthshire Golf Club, Abergavenny, and husband of Pollto Williams, a finalist in several national ladies golf championships at Llandrindod.  Other placards indicate the PPU beliefs: Mass Murder is No Defence of Liberty and  Peace is Indivisble – We Seek Peace on Earth, Goodwill to ALL MEN. Hand-crafted placards that have a drawing of a blood splatter on them accompanied by the words Munitions from Ebbw Vale suggest that this could be a protest against the opening or operation of such a factory in the area. The Society of Friends (Quakers, pacifists) had set up projects for the unemployed (e.g. boot and furniture making – see also the film Eastern Valley on the BFI Player) in Brynmawr and area during the 1930s but many of the unemployed found work in munitions factories in Ebbw Vale during WWII.  Or, given that the PPU undertook a Carlisle to London peace campaign in 1938, could this footage show a campaign visit to Ebbw Vale?


Click here to view the film: Defending This Country Only Means Attacking Another (1938)



The Peace Pledge Union [PPU] was initiated in 1934 by Canon Dick Sheppard who had been an Army Chaplain during WWI. He wrote a letter to the newspapers asking men (as women were already active in the peace movement) to sign a pledge if they were sickened by what looked like the stirrings of another war: ‘I renounce war, and I will never support or sanction another.’ He was overwhelmed by the response. The movement included women from 1936. Today, the PPU is the provider of the white poppies worn on Remembrance Day. Such poppies were first worn, at the instigation of the Co-operative Women’s Guild on Armistice Day, 1933 (Armistice Day became Remembrance Day after the Second World War). Many of the women had lost loved ones during WWI and despaired at on-going preparations for further war. It was also felt that remembrance should include all the non-military victims of war too.  The pledge today is as follows: ‘War is a crime against humanity. I renounce war, and am therefore determined not to support any kind of war. I am also determined to work for the removal of all causes of war.’


Mary Moylett, Cataloguer (Film) Screen and Sound Archive

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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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