A unique digital archive The Welsh Experience of the First World War 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 content programme as part of our 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:
"For 20 years the library has been 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 World War One. 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 commemorations in Wales by providing a comprehensive online facility for all sectors of education, local and family history researchers."
Paola Marchionni, 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:
"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 archive 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.
For more information on World War One resources made possible by Jisc, visit our WW1 centenary hub.