New resource for family historians available at Bangor University

Elen Simpson using Find my past now available to use at the University's Archive.Elen Simpson using Find my past, now available to use at the University's Archive.Anyone researching their family history can have access to an extensive database of records at Bangor University Archive.

Thanks to generous donations from Bangor University alumni, The Bangor Fund has awarded Bangor University Library and Archives the monies to purchase an online database which provides free access to over 1.5billion records of family history, including birth, marriage and death details, parish records, military records and lists of individuals on sea voyages.

The Archives serve students and staff of the University, but a large percentage of their users are researchers who have no direct contact with the University. A number of these are local historians or family history researchers.

Elen Wyn Simpson, Archivist at the University comments: “Some months ago, I set about writing an article about correspondence in the University’s Archives, between three soldiers fighting in the First World War and Sir Ifor Williams, the Professor of Welsh at Bangor University at the time.

The documents themselves reveal much about  the authors, but to find out more  I turned to the web and  the Find My Past software which we now have available. Here everything was available, census, military records, parish records, ship passenger lists, newspapers - the list goes on.

Soldiers on the University steps during the First World War.Soldiers on the University steps during the First World War.I found out immediately, that, according to the 1901 census, that one of the soldiers, Arthur Wyn Williams was the son of a Calvinistic Methodist Minister. He spent his childhood living in Bron Awel, Llanllechid and is one of four children. By the 1911 census, Arthur is 18 years old and lives in Eryl, Glan Conwy and was a student at the University.

We know from the letters that the he was a member of the 38th Welsh Division of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers (the same regiment as Hedd Wyn), and that he had survived the war. But I wanted to know of his history thereafter.  I discovered easily enough that he went to work in the U.S. as a journalist for the Manchester Guardian. I found his address in New York and even physical description of him - a man 5 feet 7 inches tall who weighed 185 lbs. He wore glasses and had a scar on his right wrist.

The shipping records also reveal his frequent travels back and forth before returning to live here. According to the National Probate Calendar, Arthur died on 9 November 1962 and had been living in Kenton, Middlesex with his wife Imogene Emma Williams,” she added.

One of the letters from Arthur Wyn Williams in the Sir Ifor Williams collection of documents in the University's Archive. One of the letters from Arthur Wyn Williams in the Sir Ifor Williams collection of documents in the University's Archive. Emma Marshall, Director of the Bangor Fund, said:

“Thanks to our generous alumni who donate to the Bangor Fund, this year we have been able to disburse £91,000 to 17 transformational projects and initiatives across the University. The purchase of “Find my Past” for the Archives Service is one which will not only benefit the students and staff of the University but also the wider community too.”

Now is the  perfect opportunity to catch up on any family history project as Find My Past is available free of charge in the University Archives.  Contact the Archive & Special Collections at Bangor University on (01248) 383276  for further information.

Publication date: 23 April 2014