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Welsh history and its sources
Welsh history and its sources

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8.1.1 Libraries, archives and museums

National Library of Wales: [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

Access in both Welsh and English. As well as its own library catalogues, it has a useful and wide variety of online resources, including, on its ‘Digital Mirror’ link:

  • Page-by-page photographic access to a range of original documents (several dating back to the Middle Ages), including the Laws of Hywel Dda, Iolo Morganwg's notes for a ‘History of the British Bards’, the travel writings of some eighteenth-century tourists to Wales, and letters written by Welsh emigrants to America and Australia.

  • ‘Welsh Biography Online’, an electronic version of the Dictionary of Welsh Biography, covering the lives of eminent Welsh people up to 1971.

  • Collections of photographs, including the Senghennydd mining disaster, 1913.

  • Some archive collections, including the Diary of David Lloyd George for 1886 and a collection of his letters to his brother William.

  • Exhibitions on a variety of subjects, including Welsh architecture and the life of David Lloyd George.

On its ‘Family History’ link, there are some useful online archival databases, including:

  • A searchable database of Gaol Files, 1730–1830.

  • Searchable access to the Manorial Documents Register.

Archives Network Wales:

The Archives Network Wales website contains standardised descriptions of the extent, type and scope of collections of historical documents held by Record Offices, universities and other bodies in Wales. It also provides links to further information and access details for the repositories. It is an index to sources rather than a source itself.

Gathering the Jewels: the website for Welsh cultural history:

Accessible, well-presented site hosted by the National Library of Wales. Contains a huge number of images (both pictures and documents) on a vast range of subjects, from pre-Christian worship to the coal industry. Organised under topics. There is a brief description of each image, but no linking commentary. Useful if you're seeking pictorial material.

The National Archives:

The National Archives at Kew, Surrey, are the official archive for England, Wales and the UK government, covering 900 years of history. The site provides online access to searchable catalogues of its vast range of records, but also a great deal more. In particular, under ‘Research, education and online exhibitions’ there is a wealth of helpful advice on how to get started and how to extend your skills in archival research, including family history, local history, military history and house history. Some manuscripts and documents are available online, including some highlights of the NA collection. There are excellent links to the UK archives network.

National Museum Wales:

Access in both Welsh and English. The museum's ‘Rhagor’ website is an on-going project to make the various national collections more accessible online. It contains a number of subject-based homepages, including one for History, where you can access images, articles and interactive features.