Welsh history of World War One to go online

A project led by the National Library of Wales in partnership with the libraries, special collections, and archives of Wales has received £500,000 in funding from the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) for mass digitisation of primary sources relating to World War One.

The project will make available a unique digital collection revealing the hidden history of World War One as it affected all aspects of Welsh life, language and culture. The project will digitise printed and manuscript sources as well as moving image, audio and photographic material.  These source materials are presently fragmented and frequently inaccessible, yet collectively they form a unique resource of vital interest to researchers, students, and the public in Wales and beyond.

The digital collection will be available through a website, and enhanced through the use of translation tools to enable broadest access.

‘The online resource will provide an invaluable resource for teaching, research, and commemoration in time for the 100th anniversary of the start of the War,’ said Andrew Green, Librarian of the National Library of Wales. ‘This is a fantastic example of collaboration across the libraries, archives and special collections of Wales to make our unique materials available to the widest international audience via digitization.’

The project has been developed by WHELF (the Wales Higher Education Libraries Forum). Collections to be digitised are from the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth University Special Collections, Archives and Special Collections, Bangor University, Trinity St David’s Special Collections, Swansea University, Cardiff University Library, the Archives of BBC Cymru Wales and archives and local records offices that are members of ARCW (Archives and Records Council, Wales). The People’s Collection Wales will gather content generated by communities and local and family historians. It will also digitise and in personal collections via outreach and targeted digitisation of significant material to enhance and complement the collections of the higher education partners. The unified, mass digital collection that will be created will represent the experience of the entire Welsh nation during World War One.

The content to be digitised has been selected in collaboration with academics in Wales and beyond, and the digital outputs of the project will lead to new research findings about Wales in World War One.

Paola Marchionni, JISC programme manager, said: “Through digitisation and collaborative working this project will bring together an impressive array of scattered content into one place and promises to become a key reference point for researchers and students looking at the Welsh experience of World War One. JISC is very proud to support this project which will also complement a number of other JISC funded World War One commemoration activities as well as national and international initiatives.”

The total cost of the digitisation project is £987,916. £500,000 in funding has been provided by the JISC Content programme 2011-13. Matched funding has been provided from institutional contributions from the project partners.

The project begins in February 2012, and the online resource will be launched in June 2013.

Jisc content programme

Jisc ww1 commemoration activities

For information, please contact Lorna Hughes, University of Wales Chair in Digital Collections, National Library of Wales: lorna.hughes@llgc.org.uk

8 Comments on “Welsh history of World War One to go online

  1. I was very interested to read about the project to digitalise primary sources relating to the First World War. Has there been any thought to include the records that are held in Welsh military museums ?
    Bill Cainan
    The Regimental Museum of the Royal welsh
    01874 613310

    • That’s a very interesting question and one I do think we considered when the project was being discussed. I have therefore forwarded your enquiry to the project team at the National Library of Wales so that they can advise.
      Sue Mace

  2. The St Helens TownshipsFHS have been awarded an HLF Grant to research 11th Battalion South Lancs Reg. (The St Helens Pals). We know that they went to Bangor for some of their training before going to the front in 1915. Will you have anything which might help us with our research, like conditions in the training camps, or stories from the local newspapers, or photographs which have never been made public? I am the Project Manager for this project.

  3. Great Grandfather Lance Corporal Thomas Walter Roberts army No: 14357 born 3/6/1890 died 8/10/1918 buried grave 23, Row D Guiznacourt Farm Cemetery, Gouy, Aisne, France served with 6th Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers. Married and living with wife and 3 children 45 Trebanog Road, Porth Glam. His name does not appear on War Memorials in Porth or nearby Pontypridd. Does anyone know why?

  4. Names not appearing on War Memorials could be due to a variety of reasons:

    1. Not all families wanted the names of those killed on War Memorials.
    We have an example regarding the North Wales memorial where a father requests that both his sons names should not be placed on the memorial due to the callous way one of them had been treated by the Army Pensions Board. There was intense hatred towards petty bureaucrats and some of the military whom it was felt had managed to remain safe whilst others had to go and fight [see Kate Roberts Traed mewn Cyffion].

    2. Quite possibly his widow could have moved from the area.

    3. The names were collected by the local Urban or District council and sometimes those lists have survived in the local Record Offices and it was common for mistakes to be made.

    4. It could be that his name is on a memorial in where he was born or brought up.

    Your enquiry has also been passed on to a colleague who belongs to the South Wales Western Front Association and she is going to look into it.

    Finally, this website might help to identify which Archives/Record Office would be of most use: http://www.archivesnetworkwales.info/

    Sue Mace (with thanks to library and archives colleagues for their advice)

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