South Wales Co-operative history captured in time
A collection of letters, photographs, financial records and research material which provides a valuable insight into the emergence and success of the Co-operative Movement and Co-operative Societies in Wales has been safeguarded at Swansea University.
The South Wales Co-operative Societies Collection which includes thousands of previously unseen documents dating as far back to the 1870s will now be available for public viewing at Swansea University Archives. The collection has been catalogued following £12,500 grant support by CyMAL: Museums Archives and Libraries Wales.
Elisabeth Bennett, University Archivist, said: “This collection enhances the significant amount of material we already hold on the Co-operative Movement. The grant has allowed us to make this important collection accessible. We hope that this will increase interest in the history of the co-operative movement in Wales. It has a long and notable history and is regarded as a major economic and social phenomenon.”
Commenting on the collection, Katrina Legg, Assistant Archivist at Swansea University said: “The South Wales Co-operative Societies Collection captures the essence of this movement in South Wales, providing an invaluable snapshot of social and economic history between the 19th and 21st centuries.”
One of the most interesting documents within the collection is a letter from 1919 from the male staff of the Treorchy Co-operative Society to the Committee, highlighting some of their concerns. They ask for a 20% pay rise explaining ‘The general high cost of living, with no prospect of relief, as the efforts of the whole of the working classes to obtain better conditions of labour and wages, react against any immediate prospects of relief.’ They also refer to the ‘apathy of the female employees’ in relation to this.
Further information about the South Wales Co-operative Societies Collection at Swansea University can be obtained by visiting http://www.agor.org.uk/cwm/themes/co-op/Default.asp.