Launching ‘The Welsh Experience of the First World War’ website

A unique digital archive The Welsh Experience of the First World War (cymru1914.org) was launched today at The College Merthyr Tydfil by Huw Lewis AM, the Welsh Government Minister for Education and Skills.

The Welsh experience of the First World War was developed as a collaborative initiative led by The National Library of Wales, in partnership with the Archives and Special Collections of Wales (partners are Aberystwyth University; Bangor University, Cardiff University; Swansea University; the University of Wales Trinity St David; BBC Cymru Wales, The People’s Collection, Wales, and archives and local records offices that are part of ARCW: the Archives and Records Council of Wales).
The project was funded by a £500,000 grant from the Jisc e-Content programme as part of their work in support of education and research, and through support from the partner organisations.

Huw Lewis AM, the Welsh Government Minister for Education and Skills said:

‘The Library has been for 20 years a trusted provider of digital content from its collections, based on a series of collaborative projects. ‘The Welsh Experience Of the First World War’ is an example of Wales-wide collaboration to create an important new digital resource and one that will prove invaluable for teaching, research, and public engagement, worldwide, free of charge, for all those interested in this important period of history’.

‘Digital resources can unlock our past for a variety of audiences, in Wales and around the world. This very special digital archive will be widely used for education and research purposes, especially as we approach the Centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. It reveals the hidden history of World War One, demonstrating its effects on all aspects of Welsh life. The archive will contribute greatly to the First World War commemorations in Wales by providing a comprehensive online facility for all sectors of education, local and family history researchers’ he said.

Paola Machionni, Jisc’s programme manager digitisation said:
‘I am delighted that Jisc have been able to support the development of this resource. It is a prime example of the benefits that digitisation can bring to researchers and the public at large by creating a virtual collection that reunites material from different physical locations. The Library and its Welsh partners are providing a really valuable, openly accessible, resource that can search collections of newspapers, images, sound and archival material both in English and Welsh.’

Aled Gruffydd Jones, the National Library’s Chief Executive and Librarian said that:

‘The National Library is proud to have led this important and unique initiative with the Archives and Special Collections of Wales. We feel sure that this innovative new digital resource will prove invaluable for teaching, research, and public engagement.

He added his thanks to the Minister for his support and to Jisc and the partner institutions ‘without whom The Welsh Experience of the First World War could not be delivered’.

The formal launch of The Welsh Experience of the First World War also marks the beginning of The National Library of Wales’ Community Partnership Initiative. This will enable more people across Wales to access the Library’s extensive printed, manuscript and visual collections. The programme was announced at the event by John Griffiths AM, Welsh Government Minister for Culture and Sport in the company of several partners from Merthyr Tydfil.

 Notes for editors

1.    ‘The Welsh experience of the First World War’ is a digital archive that contains digitised archives and special collections of Wales. The content comes from the partners organisations: The National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth University; Bangor University, Cardiff University; Swansea University; the University of Wales Trinity St David; BBC Cymru Wales, and archives and local records offices that are part of the Archives and Records Council of Wales (ARCW). Community generated content was also created through workshops run by the People’s Collections Wales.
2.    The project benefited from funding provided by Jisc. The total cost of the archive was £1,000,000. Funding of £500,000 was provided by Jisc, and the balance provided by the project partners.
Jisc offers digital services for UK education and research. The charity does this to achieve its vision for the UK to be the most digitally advanced education and research nation in the world.
Working together across the higher education, further education and skills sectors, Jisc provides trusted advice and support, reduces sector costs across shared network, digital content, IT services and procurement negotiations, ensuring the sector stays ahead of the game with research and development for the future.
Find out more at www.jisc.ac.uk or contact the press team on press@jisc.ac.uk.
3.    The project was launched on November 28th 2013, at The College Merthyr Tydfil, Wales. It will be sustained over the long term by The National Library of Wales.
The digital archive will support all aspects of First World War commemoration activities in Wales, in consultation with the First Minister’s  First World War Commemoration Programme Board, Chaired by Professor Sir Deian Hopkin.
Historian Dr. Paul O’Leary of Aberystwyth University has used the resource to prepare an online exhibition (‘The First World War and the Industrial Valleys’). Dr O’Leary has said “It would have taken many years in the archives to find these resources and bring them together in a way that demonstrates the impact of the First World War on south Wales. Having the digital archive freely available will be of tremendous benefit for research and teaching”.

Further Information:
Elin Hâf 01970 632 471 or post@llgc.org.uk

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