Happy International Archives Day! Today we celebrate the richness of archival collections, and the importance of the work of archivists and archival institutions around the world.
As part of the Explore Your Archive campaign, Archives Wales recruited ‘Archive Ambassadors’ to share their own experiences and of using archive collections and service for professional and personal use. Here’s what they had to say:
Lleucu Gruffydd, Rondo Media television producer for the
S4C programme ‘Cynefin’:
“I’m now the Producer on the ‘Cynefin’ series. A series that I am very proud to be part of and travels the country getting to know the past, present and future of many areas. Welsh archives and libraries are still an integral part of my job and invaluable not only in my research but in adding an extra layer to the items as well. Pictures are key in bringing a story to life and illustrating history.
Without a doubt, historical programs such as Cynefin are enhanced with archival content, and my work would be much more difficult without the support of Archive Services and Libraries of Wales. I owe them a lot.”
Richard Ireland; Legal Historian, Author and Emeritus Senior Lecturer at the Department of Law and Criminology, Aberystwyth University:
“Working with archival sources is fantastic. It’s possible to touch the past physically, to discover that history isn’t just the property of other people who write books but is available, freely, to everyone. It gives context to family and house history and can spark whole areas of independent research. To explore archives is to open doors into the past and see wonderful things.”
Ioan Lord, young author and industrial historian:
“The use of archives, unlike the use of secondary sources, provides an opportunity to discover new information, not previously identified by other historians. In addition, there are unexpected links with other aspects of the research field. By using primary sources in archives, original arguments and perspectives can be constructed that differ from those made by historians before.
Through my use of archives across the country, I have been able to build arguments and break new ground in my research by focusing on aspects of Welsh industrial history that have never been studied by historians before.”
David Loyn, Former foreign correspondent with the BBC, award-winning journalist, author, and Visiting Senior Fellow at King’s College, London.
“For many years as a journalist I was writing what is sometimes called the first draft of history. Now as an author and historian I am constantly grateful for people who kept those ‘first drafts’ in the past in archives – diaries, pictures, telegrams, notes, letters, maps. There is nothing as valuable as a contemporary note to shed light on decisions made by people who did not know what would happen next.
The best finds are often the unexpected – the characters who come to life from notes, the reference that makes a connection that was not previously known, the diary entry that sets off a new train of research. History is telling stories about people and archives are the raw material for this.”
Archives and Records Council Wales, June 2020