From Record Commissions to Record Repositories: Archival Custody in Wales, 1800-1995

Susan Jane Davies, Julie Dawn Stanton Mathias

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This paper aims to provide an overview of a long and complex story. It starts with the emergence of public concern for the safe custody of archives and manuscripts in Wales during the nineteenth century, including factors that governed the nature and survival of records here, the response to developments led by the Westminster government, and how national identity became a major element, leading to high-profile debate and the foundation of the National Library of Wales in 1907. The second part focuses on progress towards the safe custody of local records during the twentieth century, identifying factors that are common to England and Wales, institutions which took the first steps in Wales, the part played by the National Library and libraries in the University Colleges, and the gradual emergence of a network of county record offices rather later than in England. The end point is 1995, the eve of radical local government re-organisation in April 1996 and three years before devolution of government from Westminster to Wales, which included culture and heritage among the first responsibilities to be transferred. Post-1996 developments represent a third part of this story and a new century, but require separate attention.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-66
JournalArchives and Records: The Journal of the Archives and Records Association
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013


  • archives
  • records
  • manuscripts
  • local record office
  • county record officer
  • Wales


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