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Literature, History, Heritage

The Diversity Project of the Bywgraffiadur

For just a little under the past six months, I have been busy collecting names of people from currently underrepresented groups for future inclusion in the Dictionary of Welsh Biography, also known as the Bywgraffiadur.

The main difficulty in the process is finding names of people that tend to fall through the historical record or are only sparsely documented. Reading historic documents that talk about, let’s say, ‘Mrs John Jones’ isn’t exactly helpful when you’re trying to establish a woman’s own name, leave alone find any other material relating to her family’s background. Regarding people of colour, I’m battling with ‘creatively’ misspelled names or just complete name changes when a person crossed country borders. Similarly, collecting the names of people who are of interest for LGBTQ+ history is similarly tricky, because I dare anyone to identify the ‘sin that does not dare to speak its name’ in the historic record. And, oh, the many ways of being offensive when describing the lives of disabled people! All this combined, you get to see a lot of the ugly underbelly of the past.

Be that as it may: I have just cracked a milestone by identifying 200 people (so far) who should receive their own entry in the Bywgraffiadur. You can find the ever growing list here: https://biography.wales/amrywedd. The names have been sorted into broad categories and are listed alphabetically by their surnames. In some of the cases, we have already commissioned authors (names in square brackets) to produce new articles, but in the majority of cases, we are still desperately looking for new contributors.

Following my own first contribution of an article about Diederich Wessel Linden (you can read the somewhat longer pre-publication version of the soon to be published article here), I will take on another few over the upcoming year. In the meantime, I will be on the look-out for additional contributors.

So, if you recognise a name on the list for who you would like to write the person’s life story, get in touch either by leaving a comment below or by emailing me: rita.singer@library.wales.

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The Diversity Project of the Bywgraffiadur by Rita Singer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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