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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 January 2008, 17:39 GMT
Keeping a record of Welsh women
By Gemma Williams
BBC Wales News website

Joyce Faris
Joyce Farris was pleased her mother kept her old clothes and photos
Bell-bottomed trousers and a Somali flask are among the latest artefacts for a collection to record the role of women in modern Welsh history.

The public are also being asked to search their attics for old photos, diaries and letters in a new appeal by the Women's Archive of Wales.

These will be assessed for their historical interest by experts at Antiques Roadshow-style events.

The project has the support of a 187,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

The public have been invited to bring along mementos to the On the Road to Discovery roadshows across Wales.

They can then - if the family agree - have the documents copied for county record offices in Wales and for the Women's Archive of Wales's website.

Gwendoline Elias (R) and friend
Joyce Farris' mother Gwendoline Elias pictured on the beach in the '20s

Professor Deirdre Beddoe, chair of women's history at the University of Glamorgan, was among the experts viewing the documents.

She said: "Women have played such an important role in our past.

"Every day people throw away old paper and photos. We cannot let this material go."

The archive has been built up over the last decade but a new trawl for items, helped by lottery funding, was launched by Education Minister Jane Hutt at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay on Tuesday.

Janis Griffiths, from Barry, was among those who attended, bringing piles of her late mother-in-law Joan Griffiths' records and photographs of Welsh life in the 1940s and 50s.

They included a picture diary of the mountains she climbed, and minutes from the Barry Townswomen's Guild.

"I think her records represent what a lot of women were going through in those days," said Mrs Griffiths.

Kinsy Hayan
I'm Somali-Welsh and wanted my part in Welsh history to be recorded
Kinsy Hayan

"She felt it was her duty to be a wife and mother but she had such an active mind that she turned it out for the benefit of the community. She did a lot of good - her way."

Joyce Farris, from Cardiff, took raw silk bell-bottom trousers, which her mother Gwendoline Williams (nee Elias) wore in the 1920s.

"You think of bell-bottoms as being in the 1970s, but my mother had these in the '20s," she said.

Anne Williams, from Newport, provided documents that also provided an insight into the fashions of the early 20th Century.

'Wearing clogs'

"I have got the memoirs of my great aunt Hannah Mary Richard, who was born in 1893 in Maesteg," she said.

"It shows what life was like back then - it talks about wearing clogs to school and buying them from clog makers. It's fascinating."

The multiculturalism of Wales will also be recorded.

Kinsy Hayan, who is Somali but has lived in Cardiff for 16 years, took a replica of a carved wooden flask - known as a dheel - which women used to carry milk and make butter with in her homeland.

"This is a part of Welsh history now. The Somali community is the largest and nearly the oldest in Cardiff," she said.

"I'm Somali-Welsh and wanted my part in Welsh history to be recorded."

The roadshow will next visit Llanelli town hall on 22 February (10.30-1330 GMT), the Priory, Monmouth on 6 March (1000-1300), Ty Siamas, Dolgellau on 18 March (1500-1800) and the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea on 19 April (1200-1600). More dates will be added.

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