Restoring the 'Mam': Archives, Access And Research Into Women’s Pasts In Wales

Mandi O'Neill

Abstract

In this article I look at issues around access to material for researching the pasts of women in Wales and two archives in Wales are discussed: The Butetown History and Arts Centre (BHAC) which has recorded oral interviews with women from the community of Butetown (‘Tiger Bay’) in Cardiff, as well as collecting other material about the community, and Archif Menywod Cymru/Women’s Archive of Wales (WAW), which is working to ‘rescue’ sources of women’s history across Wales. Access to all archives is vital as there is a general lack of material about women’s pasts in Wales which can be used to challenge stereotyped representations of Welsh women, particularly of working-class women. Both BHAC and WAW have relied on public funding to differing degrees and this has been an increasingly important element in helping a large number of groups and organisations in Wales in the areas of community and local history to carry out their own research. However, public funding often comes with obligations regarding access to material which might not tie in with the aims and ethos of some more specialist archives. The changing nature of county record offices/archives is also important as they continue to become much more involved in collaborative projects with community groups and other organisations.

Keywords

Archives, Access, Women, Wales, Butetown, Community

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