The South Wales Coalfield Collection is an internationally important research resource. The collection provides a unique picture of life in the coalfield valleys during the late nineteenth and the twentieth centuries, concentrating on the workers and the organisations they created. It contains records of trade unions, miners' institutes, co-operative societies, and individuals connected with the mining community.

  • Archival material (such as minute books, financial records, correspondence etc.) and photographs are held in the Richard Burton Archives
  • Published material, audio-visual, audio, and banners are held in the South Wales Miners' Library
Photograph of Ammanford colliers and workmen standing in a group in front of coal trucks, c1900

Material in the Archives relates to:

  • National Union of Mineworkers (South Wales Area) and its predecessor the South Wales Miners' Federation
  • NUM lodges - from Abercrave to Ynyscedwyn
  • Welfare associations and friendly societies, including distress funds, workmen's hospitals, workmen's institutes and other organisations such as the St David's Unity of Ivorites
  • Co-operative Societies - from Aberdare to Ynysybwl
  • Trades Councils and Political Parties
  • Personal collections for over 150 individuals connected with the South Wales Coalfield
  • Other trade unions

This collection encompasses a significant collection of photographs. 

The Collection was established in 1969 as an attempt to preserve the documentary records of the mining community of South Wales. At that time over one hundred mines had been closed since nationalisation, more pit closures were threatened and such records were in danger of being destroyed. Fortunately the officers of the National Union of Mineworkers (South Wales Area) were aware of the problem and began the transfer of their non-current records to the Library at University College Swansea while encouraging their constituent lodges to do the same.

In 1971 the South Wales Coalfield History Project was set up, funded by the Social Science Research Council, to locate and collect manuscript and printed material of archival significance. Such was the success of the Project which lasted until 1974, that it was followed by a second from 1979-82. A great deal of archive material was deposited from miners' lodges and institutes, co-operative societies and by individuals. Another aspect of the project was the recording of interviews with people connected with the mining community.