The Eisteddfod Archive is a unique repository of the history of the Eisteddfod, its triumphs, tribulations and secrets. The collection is managed and run by a small group of volunteers. It’s a big collection, and one of our tasks is to make it bigger; we’re always collecting new material, including items coming in digital form. Archives aren’t just musty pieces of paper. With the help of North East Wales Archives, we are responsible for conservation of the collection; we expect that physical objects like documents will be kept indefinitely in the archive at Ruthin Gaol. We are also responsible for cataloguing and indexing it, so that specific items can be found, retrieved and accessed by visitors to Ruthin through their catalogue.
The letters, documents, objects, images and audio-visual material cover everything since the first glimmerings of the concept in 1943. They tell the stories of the competitors representing 140 countries and regions who have taken part over the years, and the volunteers, over 800 of whom work each year to make the festival possible. They give the background to the well-known highlights, such as the Royal visits, the celebrity concerts, the 1951 Festival of Britain, the 2004 application for the Nobel Peace prize. They reveal the lowdown on how the festival overcame potential disasters, like the night the marquee nearly blew down in a gale. They recount the way the festival has been broadcast and promoted since the first BBC microphones and Movietone news cameras in 1947.
Each year we put on a display in a tent on the Eisteddfod field, but a major effort for the next few years will be to continue scanning documents and photographs, and extending digitisation to the untouched boxes of recordings, films and videos. We have had one grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to work on the collection, and expect to be making another bid for funds in the near future. We will continue developing the on-line access starting in 2022 with this website.
Would you like to be part of it? The Archive Committee would welcome volunteers to help with this task of preserving and indexing the collection, and make its treasures more widely available. We would particularly like to find volunteers with experience of creating and handling digital material.
Please visit the “Get Involved” pages of this website.