Archives are documents created or accumulated by individuals or institutions, and selected for permanent preservation.
The documents were originally created for administrative or personal purposes, but with the passage of time became archives. They are the raw material of history providing original and unique evidence of events in the past. They are essential for historical research.
The Library holds a wide variety of archives in terms of their size, type of documents and the information contained in them, and in terms of their date. From the medieval charters of the Cistercian Abbey of Strata Marcella, near Welshpool to recent records of the National Eisteddfod of Wales, from the political archive of the late Gwynfor Evans to the scrapbooks of the boxer Freddie Welsh, archives contain information extending to every branch of knowledge.
During the early years, the majority of archives received by the Library consisted of the records of the landed gentry and their estates. Included among these family and estate archives are collections such as:
These are substantial collections in terms of their size, and they reflect the growth, development and influence of landed families throughout Wales over many centuries.
They contain thousands of original documents such as:
It is not possible to trace the industrial, social and economic history of Wales without using the sources available among the records of the large estates and also smaller estates whose influence is more local.
You can search the estate record through NLW Archives and Manuscripts, or you can see the A-Z list of 50 of the largest/most popular estate collections.
More recently, the Library began to collect other types of archives, such as corporate archives (institutions, societies and public bodies) and personal and family archives.
This category contains valuable archives of national importance, such as:
Included in this category are archives of individuals and families who have played a significant part in the life of the nation in various fields.
Included in this category are archives of individuals and families who have played a significant part in the life of the nation in various fields. This type of varied archive could prove useful, for example, to the academic wishing to study intricate literary drafts (David Jones archive), to those interested in dogs (Doggie Hubbard archive), or to those studying wildlife in Wales (William Condry archive).
Since archives are the raw material of history, they should be used at all levels of education – school children engaged in local history projects; university staff undertaking academic research; or members of the public following evening courses in family history.;
Curiosity could be the incentive for others to use archives, such as the desire to discover the history of their house or to trace the names used for local fields or farms. Whatever the reason, archives are an indispensable source for studying and interpreting the history of local communities and the history of the nation.
1. Archives and Manuscripts
You can browse and search the collections on NLW Archives and Manuscripts
Paper copies of many catalogues are also available in the Library’s South Reading Room
2. Main Catalogue
Access to archives and manuscripts which have been catalogued is also available online by searching the Library’s Main Catalogue.
(See Catalogue Help pages for details on searching for Wills, Theses and Ballads)
3. Annual Reports
The NLW Annual Reports 1909-2000 (previously available on the ISYS database) are now available in a searchable pdf format on-line.
4. Index to NLW Manuscript Series
The Index to the NLW Manuscript Series Volumes 8 and 9 (previously available on the ISYS database) is now searchable.
5. Archives Wales Search
For information on the content, scope and size of archives of Welsh interest kept in record offices, universities and other institutions throughout Wales, including this Library, you should consult the Archives Wales Search website. This website serves as a guide to the sources, and to the catalogues, available in the various Welsh repositories. It is an extremely important resource, since information concerning an individual, institution, place or subject can often be found in more than one Welsh archival repository.