Tag Archives: @Wiki_NLW

Posted - 28-06-2019

Collections

The Treaty of Versailles: in the words of those who were there

The first signing of the Treaty of Versailles happened 100 years ago today in the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles near Paris. Although the fighting in World War I had finished with the signing of the armistice on 11 November 1918, it took 6 months of negotiations at the Paris Peace Conference to agree the Treaty of Versailles. The treaty outlined the terms of the peace between Germany and the Allied Powers.

In this video, learn more about the Peace Conference and the negotiations that formed the Treaty of Versailles with our expert, Rob Phillips who will lead you through original documents that shed light on the fraught discussions.

The British Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, was one of the Big Three who shaped the Treaty of Versailles, and you can learn more about him in our digital David Lloyd George exhibition.

You can also read the letters of his personal secretary at the time, Frances Stevenson, sent from the Paris Peace Conference to her family. They give insight not only into the goings on at the Conference, but to the thought of David Lloyd George himself. She writes that he thought the treaty was a ‘terrible document’, he of course felt strongly that Germany should not be punished too harshly.

 

Posted - 24-06-2019

Collections

The Roese Collection of Contemporary Welsh Paintings

An important gift, which recently came into the Library’s possession, was the Roese Collection, a valuable and comprehensive collection of contemporary Welsh art. Many of the items from this iconic collection can be viewed within the Collecting Contemporary exhibition here at the National Library. Within this blog Caryl and Dr Herbert Roese who kindly donated these works to the Library, give us an insight into the how this iconic collection evolved. Next Wednesday, on July 3rd at 1 pm, Caryl Roese will be giving a lunchtime talk at the Library’s Drwm on this important collection. A warm welcome to all. Free admission via ticket. Tickets available via the Library’s website: https://bit.ly/2J4G8s3 or by phone:  01970 632 548.

Being from South Wales, we were first introduced to Welsh Paintings per se by the Polish artist Josef Herman who I knew as a child in Ystradgynlais. He drew attention to the Coal Mining era between 1944-55.

 

 

In the 1960s we developed a serious interest in collecting paintings. In the 1970s, we decided to concentrate on purchasing abstract works by Welsh artists, some of whom were already well known, such as Ceri Richards. It was also important for us where possible to meet and talk to the individual artists about their work. Many long lasting friendships grew out of these meetings.

The first painting we acquired was one of Ernest Zobole’s Landscapes, i.e.No.2 of 1978, which we saw in his studio at Penrhys Road, Ystrad Rhondda, and we were later able to purchase two further works by the artist namely Painting about a Landscape (1997) and Ystrad and People No.10 (1961).

We were introduced to Ivor Davies by way of the Washington Gallery, Penarth. Over time we bought a number of his works, e.g. Mabon (1997), Natur a Meithrin/Nature and Culture (1983), and were presented with a gift namely Ivor’s View through a window (1969).

 

 

Glenys Cour’s style of painting appealed to us enormously leading to our purchase of Celtic Landscape (2001) at the Martin Tinney Gallery in Cardiff. We visited the artist many times at her home in the Mumbles, where we also acquired the work Celtic Stone (1998/99). During an exhibition at the Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea, celebrating the poetry of Vernon Watkins  i.e. Taliesin and the Mockers, we acquired Glenys’s paper collage I stood erect at the birth of rivers. It was illustrated in the artist’s same titled book and on the cover of the 2004 Dylan Thomas Festival brochure.

Another Welsh artist who invited us to his studio to view his work was Iwan Bala. As a result, we purchased the wonderful Omphalos (1999). It was inspired by the artist’s stay in Zimbabwe, something we had in common.

 

 

It is also worth mentioning the names of some other painters in the collection and the titles of their works:  Keith Bayliss Visiting Angel, Gwenllian Beynon Hapus, Anthony Evans Cae Melyn & Brain, Ruth Jen Evans Tir Terfyn, Neal Howells Black Puck, Bert Isaac (several created in 2001-2003), Mary Lloyd-Jones Hen Waith Cwmystwyth, Islwyn Watkins (several created in 2001 and earlier) to name only a few.

 

 

We believe that we should all support our own modern Welsh artists, which explains our choice of mostly abstract works.

Caryl Roese

 

Posted - 21-06-2019

Collections / Exhibitions / music / Screen and Sound / Story of Wales

Welsh Music: Folk, Protest and Pop

This post is a part of the Story of Wales series, which looks at different aspects of Welsh history, and how today’s Wales remembers, and shapes it. Subscribe to the blog on the right to ensure you don’t miss any posts.

Wales is often described as the country of song. But where did our musical tradition begin, and how did it develop?

Our new exhibition Record: Folk, Protest and Pop’ explores the musical tradition of Wales throughout the centuries – from the crwth to Catatonia – using various items from The Welsh Music Archive and Screen and Sound Archive.

Nia Mai Daniel from the Welsh Music Archive tells us more …

 

 

Roots
Although Wales is known as ‘The Land of Song’, we don’t have a great memory of early musical works. The folk tradition is an oral tradition, with harpists and balladeers travelling around the country, entertaining people in markets and public houses, and committing the melodies to memory.

By the eighteenth century folk melodies were recorded on paper, and many notable collectors compiled these at a later date; it is thanks to the tireless work of individuals such as Nansi Richards, J Lloyd Williams and Meredydd Evans that our folk tradition was saved and protected.

The establishment of the Welsh Folk Song Society in 1906 and the revival in the folk tradition in the 1970s, when folk singing coexisted with popular music, have also contributed to preserving the tradition.

 

Merêd
One of the main figures in the evolution of music in Wales was Meredydd Evans, or Merêd, who spent his life contributing to Welsh life and culture as a collector, historian, musician, editor, nationalist and passionate campaigner for the Welsh language.

Merêd and his wife Phyllis Kinney collected songs which had been in danger of disappearing, and believed that the tradition could not grow and adapt without giving life to these songs which he discovered in old manuscripts and musical scores.

As well as his work as a collector, Merêd was also a gifted performer, recording an important collection of songs for the Folkway Records label in New York in 1954. For a decade from 1963 he was head of BBC Wales’ light entertainment, where he worked tirelessly to create popular Welsh light entertainment programmes.

 

Revolution
“It’s about time we have more extreme singing in Wales today, more screams and wild drums…” were the words of a member of the first Welsh rock band, Y Blew, which formed in 1967.

The Wales of the 60s and 70s was a country that saw political agitation as well as musical ferment. Folk and pop music became tremendously popular, and the first Welsh language record label, Sain, was established in 1969. But what pushed Welsh music onwards was the ‘protest’ song. Rather than composing love songs, these young Welsh artists would take their guitars to the local pub and sing satirical and political songs.

By the 1980s a new group of bands and record labels emerged, ones that created a very different sound compared to the pop music usually heard from the country’s stages and radio waves. Groups such as Anhrefn, Datblygu, Llwybr Llaethog and Y Cyrff were experimental and revolutionary.

 

Horizons
During the 1990s many Welsh language groups and individuals started to produce work in English as well as in Welsh such as Catatonia, Super Furry Animals and Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci. The breakthrough into the English language music scene led to a growing interest in Welsh language culture and music across the world.

By the late 1990s and early twenty-first century the Welsh language was expressed through a variety of styles, from hip hop, reggae and ska, and returning back to its traditional folk roots.

Today, the music scene in Wales is alive and well, with an abundance of talented artists writing, recording and performing in Welsh, and more independent record labels than ever before working to release Welsh records.

 

For more information about our RECORD: Folk, Protest & Pop Exhibition (22 June 2019 – 1 February 2020)

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

Posted -

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

This post is a part of the Story of Wales series, which looks at different aspects of Welsh history, and how today’s Wales remembers, and shapes it. Subscribe to the blog on the right to ensure you don’t miss any posts.

 

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

Collections

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

Collections

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

Collections

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 www.senedd.tv 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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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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