Swansea are first university archives in UK to meet gold standard

The Richard Burton Archives at Swansea University, which holds material on the rich industrial, cultural and social heritage of Wales, has become the first university archive in the UK to be accredited for its high standards, both in looking after valuable records, and in making them available to researchers and the wider community.

Katrina Legg in archivesAccreditation is the UK standard for archive services.  It defines good practice and identifies agreed standards within the archive sector.  

To meet the standard, archives have to show that they are “responsive to all their stakeholders and trusted in the management of their unique collections”.

‌Picture:  Archivist Katrina Legg shows history students some of the collections in secure and temperature-controlled conditions in the archives.

The Richard Burton Archives have over 1.3 kilometres of documents made of many materials – such as paper, parchment and photographs – kept in secure and temperature-controlled conditions.   Its treasures include:

•    World War One material, including trade union records, company papers, school log books and photographs

•    The South Wales Coalfield Collection, an internationally important research resource, providing a unique picture of life in the coalfield valleys during the late nineteenth and the twentieth centuries,

•    The Richard Burton collection, including the diaries kept by the Port Talbot-born actor from 1940 through to the 1980s, recently published with worldwide coverage

•    Family collections of prominent Swansea industrialists, including the Vivians, Dillwyns and Morrises

•    Local business records, including copper, tinplate and steel, and the famous Mumbles Railway

•    Documents relating to the history of the University since it was founded in 1920, and to student life at Swansea through the ages, such as pictures and rag mags

290 x 195290 x 208

Pictures:  Students from DACE (left) and History (right) working with archive material, including World War one documents

To meet the standard, archives teams have to excel not only in the way in which they store material, but also in the way they work with researchers and the local community, making the material accessible.

400 x 254Archive picture: Onllwyn soldiers in hospital after WW1. 

Elisabeth Bennett, Swansea University archivist, said:

"A world without records is a world without memory.  As we can see from the huge public interest in the First World War, archives have a vital role to play in bringing the past to life.
We are pleased that the work we have put into developing the service, and the support and investment of the University, have been recognised by this award.

Our team works hard to provide a good service to all the people we work with: researchers, students and staff here on campus, but also our local community.  

Anyone with an interest can use the archives and through visits and open days we make sure that people are able to see and study the fascinating material that we look after."

Accredited archive logoMore information on the Richard Burton Archives. The Archives are open to all.

‌Archive Services Accreditation is awarded by a committee representing the entire archive sector in the UK.  This includes:

  • The National Archives
  • Welsh Government Cymal programme
  • Archive offices for Scotland and Northern Ireland
  • Public Record Office of Northern Ireland
  • Archives and Records Association
  • Scottish Council on Archives
  • Archives and Records Council Wales.

‌Picture credits:  Richard Burton Archives, Swansea University