Research resources for postgraduate students

For the historian, Aberystwyth is one of the UK's outstanding research locations, as well as being the paramount centre for the study of all aspects of the history of Wales in its British, European and international contexts. 

Research Resources

Book, journal and archive resources extend across several libraries, including the massive holdings of the National Library of Wales, Wales's only copyright library and one of only five copyright libraries across the UK. Besides offering immediate access to all copyright publications issued in the UK, the National Library houses many collections relating to the British Isles in general, and has been since its inception the world's leading repository for archives relating to the history of Wales, many of which await intensive investigation. The University's own Hugh Owen Library houses in addition more than 600,000 volumes and over 3000 periodical series, besides a number of unique research collections. There are in addition several specialist libraries catering for users in such fields as agricultural history, archive and information science, architectural and archaeological studies. Aberystwyth is also the home of a number of research-led institutions useful to historians of many periods and interests. These include besides the National Library; the Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies; the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments in Wales; and the Ceredigion Record Office.

A brief illustration of the resources available to support a wide variety of research projects might include for the medieval period the National Library's priceless manuscript collection, which includes secular and ecclesiastical court records as well as literary, family and estate papers. The Department's own holdings in this field include the Dyffryn Clwyd Court Rolls Data Base (which includes a major microfilm collection); this ESRC-funded project is a major tool for the study of late medieval Wales.


Early Modern Historians

For early modern historians, the National Library's archives include the largely unexplored records of the Courts of Great Sessions (the equivalent of the English Assize jurisdiction), extensive holdings of probate material, and records of the church in Wales. The records of landed estates include several major collections covering a wide variety of subjects. Besides its extensive manuscript holdings, the National Library also holds microfilm copies of the major State Paper series (1547-1782), the Home Office Papers (1782-1820), and Episcopal records from the thirteenth to the seventeenth centuries, including archive material from Lambeth Palace Library. Amongst the resources complementing its extensive holdings of printed books and pamphlets, the National Library also houses on microfilm a complete collection of all Early English Books 1475-1700; and Eighteenth-Century Books; the complete edition of the 20,000 Thomason Tracts for 1640-60; and a collection of French Political Pamphlets for 1547-1648.

Modern Period

For the modern period the National Library houses a vast collection of nineteenth and twentieth century newspapers and journals, from England, Wales and beyond (in both original and microfilm forms), and outstanding collections of manuscripts, illustrations, maps and audio material. Microfilm holdings range from Cabinet Records to the Minute Books of the Owenite societies 1838-1845; with special holdings on The Immigrant in America; and the Archives of British Men of Science. Substantial collections of folklore and amateur ethnography, such as the papers of Tom Jones (of Trealaw, Rhondda) are held, and there are rich holdings to facilitate research on popular culture generally, including the extensive papers of several Welsh musicians and observers of the Welsh musical scene like the D. Emlyn Evans papers. On sport, the Minute and Account books of many sporting bodies (including cricket, tennis, and golf clubs) are available, together with extensive newspaper holdings.

20th Century Historian

For the twentieth century historian, as well as its own extensive newspaper and manuscript collections (including the Lloyd George Papers), the National Library has built up unrivalled microfiche and microfilm holdings of archive collections from other parts of Britain and further afield. They include the archives of the Liberal, Conservative and Labour Parties, the ILP and Plaid Cymru; also material from the Scottish nationalist movement. Collections on public order and social conditions in nineteenth and twentieth century Britain include Civil Disturbance, Chartism and Riots in Nineteenth Century England; Protest Movements, Civil Order and the Police in Inter-War Britain; Conflict and Consensus in British Industrial Relations 1916-46; and The General Strike 1926. Mid-twentieth century materials include collections from the Tom Harrisson Mass-Observation Archive; Ministry of Information Home Intelligence Reports 1940-44; a microfilm collection of Popular Newspapers during World War II; and Reports of the Military Government for Germany (US Zone), 1945-53. Materials relating to the history of the mass media include BBC radio and television drama catalogues 1923-75; and British newsreels issue sheets 1913-70. New microfilm collections are constantly being added to the Library's holdings.

The National Library of Wales also hosts the National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales. This massive undertaking includes over 70,000 hours of video and TV film (constantly updated), and over 40,000 hours of sound recordings and radio broadcast material, plus a unique film archive dating from the silent era onwards; effectively covering anything with a connection to Wales, her language, history and people, and in both Welsh and English.

Welsh Political Archive

The Welsh Political Archive at the National Library was established in 1983 and holds extensive records relating to the political parties of Wales, including those of certain Conservative Associations from the early twentieth century, and Labour Party minutes from 1937 onwards. The largest party archive, that of Plaid Cymru, dates back to the party's foundation in 1925. As well as the papers of David Lloyd George and his contemporaries, the National Library also holds the papers of many more recent politicians, among them those of four of the first five holders of the post of Secretary of State for Wales: James Griffiths, Cledwyn Hughes (Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos), George Thomas (Viscount Tonypandy) and John Morris; of Clement Davies, Leader of the Liberal Party, Lord Elwyn-Jones, Lord Chancellor 1974-9, Gwynfor Evans, President of Plaid Cymru 1945-81, and Beata Brookes, Conservative MEP for North Wales 1979-89, and of many long-serving back bench MPs, including Leo Abse, Emlyn Hooson (Lord Hooson), Ted Rowlands and Dafydd Wigley. There are also records of organisations such as the Welsh National Council of the United Nations Association, formerly the League of Nations Union, 1923-56, and the Association of Welsh Local Authorities, 1928-70s, and records and papers relating to campaigns and pressure groups, for example, minutes and papers of the Parliament for Wales Campaign, 1953-6, the records of Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg, and the papers of several recent radical and nationalist pressure groups. The Welsh Political Archive publishes a Newsletter twice a year.

Further details of all these holdings at the National Library of Wales can be obtained from the Library's website, in particular its Digital Mirror site and its Treasures site.

Hugh Owen Library

The university's own principal library, the Hugh Owen Libraryholds a number of special collections which supplement the resources of the National Library. For historians interested in British politics, it has an extensive collection of government reports and HMSO publications dating back over a hundred years, and of course a complete run of Hansard. For historians interested in the USA, the Hugh Owen Library's resources include the microfilm collection Early American Imprints, a complete collection of everything printed in North America (with the exception of newspapers) up to 1800. For the period of the American Civil War and Reconstruction, there are the Official Records of the Wars of the Rebellion, a complete set of the published military records of the Civil War; the Congressional Globe (1860-1873) and the Congressional Record (1873-77), a full record of congressional proceedings for these years; the US Congress Ku Klux Klan Hearings (1871-72), revealing about social and political conditions in the post-war south; and microfilm editions of newspapers and journals. The Hugh Owen Library also has holdings on microfilm of West African newspapers from the nineteenth and early twentieth century, Church Missionary Society records, US consular records, and papers from Ibadan University Library to support research in modern African history. Meanwhile, the Hugh Owen Library is one of only two designated European Documentation Centres in Wales, and receives most publications produced by the main European Union institutions, including legislative texts, reports and statistics on a whole range of topics relating to the European Union and European integration. Our sister departments of Law and International Politics provide further expertise in this area. The Hugh Owen Library also has its own microfilm newspaper collection, and a large and growing collection of on-line resources, including the complete Times Digital Archive. Full details can be found on here on the library's website.

Aberystwyth and Town

Aberystwyth is also equally well-placed to support research into the history of a wide variety of local communities. The National Library holds massive collections of parish, family, estate and local government papers from the late medieval period onwards, relating to Wales and to many other British counties. The Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments in Wales, with its National Monuments Record is also located in Aberystwyth. This institution provides facilities for research into the history of the built environment from distant pre-history onwards, including information and analysis relating to archaeological sites and a wide range of buildings in Wales from all periods. The Ceredigion Record Office, established in the 1970s, holds extensive material relating to local administration particularly in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, including the Poor Law and education, as well as archives relating to shipping in the port of Aberystwyth, and metal mining in inland Cardiganshire. Further material including a wide range of artefacts is available in the Ceredigion Museum, and there is a rich variety of Heritage-related sites and institutions in the immediate locality from which postgraduate History, Archive and Heritage students can draw illustrative material and professional expertise.