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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 September, 2003, 16:36 GMT 17:36 UK
Welsh archive goes online
Cader Idris
The archive tells all about one man's love for Cader Idris
A huge "online library" on everything Welsh has gone live.

If you want to find out about 18th Century Quaker settlers arriving from America in Pembrokeshire, or a man who climbed the same mountain 581 times, the Archives Network Wales website provides the answers.

It provides an index which allows users to search for facts and figures on more than 4,000 collections of documents, maps and books from record offices, universities, museums and libraries in Wales.

The three-year project being undertaken by a team based at the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, will cost 496,000.

The team are adding new information all the time but it is already a very useful tool
Project manager Martin Locock

"This is a project of the highest merit in terms of opening up a whole new area of Welsh heritage to the public," said Jennifer Stewart, heritage lottery fund manager for Wales, which paid 365,000 of the project costs.

"Bringing the archives of Wales together as an internet database is a huge boost to the widespread understanding of our past and a resource that will serve future generations well."

Wealthy families

Many archives on the website are from wealthy families and reflect how they bought, managed and dispersed farmland and industrial property over previous centuries.

Some collections have global links such as the Starbuck family papers in the Pembrokeshire record office, which contains material from the Quaker settlers of Nantucket Island whose whaling ships arrived at Milford Haven in 1792.

National Library of Wales
The archive team is based at the National Library of Wales

Daniel Starbuck bought land locally and settled in Pembrokeshire.

Among the more unusual collections are the papers of scientist Ben Davies, which includes letters about his work with radio pioneer Sir Oliver Lodge in the early 1900s as well as diaries describing psychic experiences.

Leonard Brown, a Great Western railway clerk who retired to Wales in the 1930s, climbed Cader Idris in Snowdonia 581 times.

His notes on these ascents are also part of the collection.

"The team are adding new information all the time but it is already a very useful tool for anyone interested in a particular person or place acting as an index to what is held in archives in Wales," said project manager Martin Locock.

"This will encourage more and a wider range of people to use archives for interest, research and as a source of evidence about the past."

The website was launched by Welsh Culture Minister Alun Pugh at the National Library of Wales on Thursday.

Project partners include the county archives services, universities, the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments, the National Museums and Galleries of Wales and the National Library of Wales.

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