The Welsh Political Archive is a dedicated programme within the National Library of Wales to collect, store, catalogue and promote archival material which reflects the political life of Wales. Many of the political archives we hold are personal collections of well know political figures – Members of Parliament, Lords, Members of the European Parliament and Assembly Members/Members of the Senedd as well as the formal records of a large number of political organisations including the main political parties, campaign groups, referendum campaigns, business and labour groups.
The National Library of Wales was established by Royal Charter on 19 March 1907 following a campaign which began in 1873. A committee was set up to collect Welsh material and house it at the University College in Aberystwyth; in 1905 the government promised money in its Budget, and the Privy Council appointed a committee to decide on the location of the Library and the new National Museum of Wales. Aberystwyth was selected as the location of the Library partly because a collection was already available in the College and Sir John Williams, physician and book collector, had also said he would present his collection to the Library if it were established in Aberystwyth. The building on Penglais Hill above the town of Aberystwyth was begun in 1911, and was first occupied in 1916. The library became a legal deposit library in 1911
The Welsh Political Archive was established in 1983. Although the Library was home to a number of important political collections, prior to that date the Archive enabled proactive collecting and promotion of Welsh political archives.
In addition to collecting and promoting collections for study, the Welsh Political Archive also publishes an annual newsletter, Maniffesto which highlights recent acquisitions, work on the collections, publications and books. The Archive also hosts an annual lecture on the first Friday in November, and provides material for exhibitions in the Library.
The work of the Archive is supported by an advisory committee including representatives from the major political parties, academics, the media and civic society.
The Welsh Political Archive collects the personal papers of politicians who have played an important role in the life of the nation, and individuals with a high profile for campaigning on national or international issues.
- The papers of Members of the UK Parliament, Members of the Senedd, Members of the European Parliament and Lords if they have for example held positions such as Secretary of State, party leader, minister, senior committee chair or have a significant national or international profile. It does not usually collect the papers of other elected members or constituency papers.
- The national archives of political parties but although there are legacy local and regional party collections, it no longer collect the regional or branch papers.
- The archives of national pressure groups and groups which campaign on national issues.
- Election ephemera from all constituencies in Wales for national elections and referenda including elections for Police and Crime Commissioners (excluding material related to elections to local authorities).
Some collections include:
Members of Parliament, Lords and Assembly Members
• Viscount Tonypandy
• D Emlyn Thomas
• Baron Cledwyn of Penrhos
• Leo Abse
• James Griffiths
• Huw T Edwards
• Lord Goronwy Roberts
• Rhodri Morgan
• Peter Hain
• John Morris
• Ted Rowlands
• Lord MacDonald of Gwaenysgor
• Labour Party Wales
• Local Labour Party of Brecon and Radnor, Ebbw Vale, and Caerphilly
• Wales TUC
• Leaflets, posters, letters from each constituency for Parliamentary and Assembly/Senedd Elections since 1983
• Archives websites of candidates, MPs, Assembly Members, parties and pressure groups
Users will need to register for a reader’s ticket.
Manuscript and archival material is consulted in the South Reading Room.
Opening hours are:
Monday – Friday 9:30 – 18:00
Saturday 9:30 – 17:00 (Material must be ordered by 16.30 on Friday)
For details about how to get to the National Library of Wales: