As the Women’s Institute movement prepares to celebrate its centenary next year, Pembrokeshire County Council Archives is helping it preserve its records for posterity.
The Haverfordwest based Archives, which is the key custodian of the County’s history, is storing the archives of local WI branches.
The documents include scrapbooks, photograph albums and press-cuttings, as well as the official minutes and monthly records of branch meetings, and provide an unique record of the County’s past for posterity.
“Many WI branches institutes hold invaluable historical information about their area in the form of written observations of local events, photographs of residents and comments on the effects of changes in government policy upon everyday life,” said Pembrokeshire Archives archivist, Nikki Bosworth.
“Over time many of these valuable resources disappeared but now the WI is collecting and collating all the surviving material from local institutes and depositing it for safe-keeping in local county archives.”
The WI began in 1915 with the first Pembrokeshire branches – Mathry and Solva - established in 1917 closely followed by Carew, Clarbeston Road and Narberth.
By the end of the 1920s, there were WIs in Boncath, Cosheston, Dale, Kilgetty, Llanddewi Velfrey, Neyland and Tavernspite.
Today Pembrokeshire has 1,300 WI members and almost 60 branches including branches in County Hall and Pembrokeshire College with the most recent group, founded in 2013, intriguingly named the ‘Marmaladies’.
Amongst the documents recently deposited by Llanddewi Velfrey WI are copies of women’s magazines such as ‘Mary Bull, Every Woman’s Weekly’ dating from 1914 while from Fishguard WI, there are records of fruit-preserving centres where the WI made jam during the Second World War.
The records are being stored in the new state-of-the-art Pembrokeshire County Council Archives in Prendergast, Haverfordwest, where a team of staff, led by County archivist Claire Orr, has been sorting and listing the documents.
In the future, the public will be able to access this material and widen their knowledge of their locality and its people in the past.
Pembrokeshire Archives is based in Prendergast, near Sir Thomas Picton Secondary School, and can be visited in person, or contacted by telephone on 01437 775456, email firstname.lastname@example.org or via the web-site www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/archives.
It is open to the public (without the need for advance booking) on Wednesdays 10 am to 8 pm. Thursdays and Fridays 10 am to 5 pm and Saturdays (except Bank Holiday weekends) 10 am to 3 pm.
For enquiries about joining a branch of the Women’s Institute, the Pembrokeshire Federation of Women’s Institutes can contacted by telephone on 01437 768674, email email@example.com or via the web-site www.thewi.org.uk.