Archiving the Past

We were looking forward to meeting you all at this year’s Eisteddfod and sharing our vision for the Archiving the Past project. As this is sadly not possible, we have put together a number of blogs to create a virtual Archive Tent this year to tell you more about it.

Last year the Eisteddfod received Heritage Lottery funding for its Archiving the Past project. Work on the project started in November and is being carried out by members of the Eisteddfod’s Archive Committee and the project archivist, Liz Parfitt, who is funded by the HLF grant. We were making good progress before lockdown intervened. Currently, we are keeping things ticking over and look forward to resuming properly as soon as the current restrictions lift.

LIME Archive Committee Members with Project Archivist, Liz Parfitt

The International Eisteddfod has a long and unique history which needs to be preserved and shared with all that are interested in it. The Archiving the Past project is about just that – preserving and sharing the Eisteddfod’s past and inspiring future generations with its message of peace and hope.

The Eisteddfod already has an extensive collection of material relating to its history including a complete collection of programmes, many photographs and audio/visual (AV) collections, as well as written material relating to the day-to-day running of the organisation such as committee minutes. A large amount of this material is held on LIME’s behalf by Denbighshire Archives in Ruthin (now part of North East Wales Archive) and can be viewed there. (This material can be identified using the Denbighshire Archives online catalogue by typing “DD/LE” into the search box at https://www.newa.wales/.)

In addition to the collection already held in Ruthin, the Eisteddfod has a significant amount of material which it currently looked after in the Pavilion by the Archive Committee. Many years of dedicated work means that this material is well organised but currently access to it is limited. One aim of the project is to catalogue this material and transfer it to Ruthin so that it can also be accessed by all who might be interested in it. The archive volunteers had made a great start on this process before lockdown struck! One big issue, which has been brought into sharper focus by the project, is to do with preserving the AV material – audio recordings, films and videos of performances at the Eisteddfod. These are of great importance in capturing the essence of the Eisteddfod but, unfortunately, many of these recordings cannot currently be enjoyed and, more worryingly, are in danger of being lost forever due to ongoing degradation of the media they were recorded on. One developing aspect of the project is, therefore, creating a detailed list of what AV material is held and in what formats to give us the foundation on which to base an application for grant funding to get this material preserved and digitised.

Another key aspect of the project is outreach. A book, film and new travelling exhibition about the history of the Eisteddfod are all planned alongside Eisteddfodthemed projects with local schools in Llangollen. A new dedicated website is to be created which, it is hoped, will serve as a central hub where people can find out about the archive collections, can access some material digitally and, also, can share their own memories and passion for the Eisteddfod.

If you would like to know more about the Archiving the Past project, would like to volunteer with us or have material that you would like to donate, please get in touch via our email: archive@llangollen.net  

Liz

Liz Parfitt
LIME HLF Project Archivist