Education records make up a significant proportion of our holdings at Glamorgan Archives. This is reflected in our list of 75th accessions, with 8 of these deposits relating to education. Education records are varied and include school board reports, correspondence and policy documentation; education inspectors notes and correspondence; and the records of individual schools, usually comprising admission registers, log books and photographs.
EM33/1 Maesteg Central School Log Book
Education records are some of our most frequently requested items in the searchroom. Their relevance extends well beyond the remit of school buildings and lesson plans. Log books in particular can give an invaluable insight into a community, documenting everything from outbreaks of illness, industrial unrest, local reaction to national events and even the weather.
EM16/4 Ferndale Board School Log Book
If you have links to a school which has not deposited records at Glamorgan Archives and are interested in finding out about the process, we would be delighted to hear from you. Schools that deposit records retain ownership of the items. The records will be packaged and stored to prevent their deterioration and ensure their survival for future generations. They can then be accessed in our searchroom. We can also arrange for pupils from your school to be involved with the process of cleaning, packaging and cataloguing the records. It is a great opportunity to learn about what we do and about the importance of preserving our documentary heritage.
School groups are welcome to visit the archives, where we offer a variety of workshops linked to the curriculum. A list of topics can be found on our website, and teachers are welcome to contact us to suggest new themes. All school visits are free of charge. To arrange a visit just contact Glamorgan Archives.
Mount Stuart Primary visit Glamorgan Archives
Newspapers feature as the 75th accession on five occasions: 1974, 1982, 1984, 1985 and 1988. In 1994 the decision was made to stop accepting newspapers at Glamorgan Archives, and to transfer those already held to suitable local libraries or, in the case of the Western Mail and the South Wales Echo, to the National Library of Wales.
The 3000 volumes of newspapers presented problems of storage and conservation. In 1994, Glamorgan Record Office (as it was then) stored records in six different locations in and around Cardiff and was under pressure to rationalise space. Collections of newspapers occupied three cottages, formerly Children’s Homes, at Garth Olwg, ChurchVillage. There was also the issue of conservation, as noted in the Annual Report of 1994: The best way of conserving newspapers is to microfilm them, but the cost of this is far beyond the resources of GRO.
Although collections of newspapers are no longer held at Glamorgan Archives, newscutting books feature within many collections. These volumes were compiled for a multitude of reasons, by businesses and organisations as well as individuals. Indeed the 75th accession for 1976 includes a newscutting book compiled by the Rhymney Valley Water Board (1939-1966).
Cardiff Constabulary newscutting book
Today, access to information on newspapers as well as digitised copies of the newspapers themselves, can be accessed online.
Newsplan Cymru provides a database recording holdings of newspapers published across Wales: http://www.newsplancymru.info/
Welsh Newspapers Online is a free online resource from the National Library of Wales: http://papuraunewyddcymru.llgc.org.uk/en/home
Last week it was brought home to us how important it is to have good storage conditions that comply with the relevant British and international standards. A box of documents had been requested in the searchroom by our Senior Archivist, and on production it was found that the documents had what appeared to be live mould on them. At that point I was called in to confirm the finding. Mould thrives in poor storage conditions with high relative humidity and high or low temperatures, feeding on the proteins in parchment and glue and the cellulose and size in paper.
The box of documents had been kept at an outstore with no environmental monitoring systems or controls. There were areas of damp and massive temperature fluctuations, all threats to long term health of archival material. Poor storage conditions were a major driver for the relocation of the archive service in 2010. Outstores had been needed since the 1960s as the former building was filled to capacity, and very few were ideal for the purpose. The good news is that once moved into stable storage conditions mould growth will slow down and eventually die, a process which can take around 5 years or more. And we are entering our fifth year in the new building with the entire collection on site and in excellent conditions.
Checking boxes for signs of mould
Just to be safe, other items and collections previously stored in the same outstore area as this box had to be examined. With help from Amanda (one of our conservation Volunteers) and Mary (who is with us on work experience) I set off on a mould hunt So far we have found signs of mould in 30 boxes.. Once mould is found the box is removed to our isolation area where the mould can dry out before cleaning commences. This has to be done using specialist tools and wearing personal protective equipment as the mould, is not only very dirty but can also be hazardous to health.
Cleaning documents affected by mould
Mould can be in the documents before they come to us and we now have a system (and the space) for checking all accessions and cleaning and packaging them before shelving them in the strongrooms. The recent discovery was a reminder of the bad old days and an incentive to maintain new procedures. Staff are currently checking all boxes in the collection to confirm location and contents. Conservation needs are also being flagged with mould identification now a top priority.
Users and staff regularly comment on the benefits of being in a purpose built facility. It’s good to be reminded that the documents needed the move even more than we did!
The 75th deposit received by Glamorgan Archives in 1976 was the Rhymney Valley Water Board Records. The Board was established in 1921, after many years of campaigning leading to the passing of the Rhymney Valley Water Board Bill.
The Board was comprised of councillors from Gelligaer, Bedwellty, Bedwas and Machen, Mynyddislwyn, Rhymney and Caerphilly. It had the power to acquire certain water undertakings and works and to construct new works, as well as to supply water. The water itself came from the Taf Fechan Water Supply Board, whose records we also hold at Glamorgan Archives.
Minutes of the Rhymney Valley Water Board
Although the Board was established in 1921 the records date from 1916; these early items comprise newspaper cuttings tracking reports on the campaign for the creation of the Board. The records continue until 1966.
The Rhymney Valley Water Board Records comprise 45 volumes of minute books, accounts, engineers’ reports and newspaper cuttings.
The records of municipal boards like the Rhymney Valley Water Board are a rich source of information for anyone studying the evolution of local government and local politics in Wales.