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Records of south Wales Jewish community to be made available online

14 Sep 2023 3 minute read
Researchers were delighted with the finds discovered in an old suitcase.

Fascinating records on the history of the Jewish community across south Wales which were discovered in a suitcase at a city synagogue have been made safe and a selection will shortly be available online.

Researchers were delighted with the finds, which included annual reports, documents and photographs relating to the cemetery and minute books from various synagogue committees.

These are now available to view at Glamorgan Archives in Cardiff and searchable through its online catalogue (‘Canfod’ – document reference D765).

A selection of the material will also be available to view digitally on People’s Collection Wales.

The work was carried out as part of an ambitious year-long project whose aim was to preserve and make publicly available the records of Cardiff United Synagogue – the last remaining orthodox synagogue in south Wales – and make the records available to the wider audience.

The Cardiff United Synagogue records date back to the 19th century. They survived the floods in Cardiff of 1979-80 when most of the records, which at that time were held in the basement of the former Cathedral Road Synagogue, were lost. Since 2003, the records were stored at Cardiff United Synagogue but were at risk of deterioration.

None of the records had been digitised, were not available to the public and were not searchable as there was no inventory or catalogue.


Klavdija Erzen, Project Manager of the Jewish History Association of South Wales: “We discovered lots of fascinating material, including annual reports, architectural and building plans, cemetery documents and photographs, stored away in a suitcase at the synagogue.

“This included the minute books of the Cardiff Ladies’ Sewing Society (1926-1947) and Cardiff United Synagogue Ladies’ Guild (1952-1991).”

Rhian Diggins, Senior Archivist at the Glamorgan Archives, said: “Thanks to this project, delivered with the Jewish History Association of South Wales, we have succeeded in safeguarding for the future and making accessible to the public for the first time, a significant collection documenting the history of the Jewish community in Cardiff and the wider South Wales area.

“This contributes significantly towards our aims as a service of engaging with new audiences and developing our collection so that it reflects the whole of the community that we serve.”

The records have been catalogued according to the International Standard for Archival Description, repacked using archival packaging materials, digitised, and deposited with Glamorgan Archives for preservation and public access.

Items not selected for permanent preservation have been listed, labelled, and returned to Cardiff United Synagogue.

Recommendations have been made for disposal in line with legislative requirements and a schedule to ensure those records selected for retention and any future records created by Cardiff United Synagogue are managed properly.

The project was supported by the Rothschild Foundation Hanadiv Europe along with the Jewish History Association of South Wales/Cymdeithas Hanes Iddewig De Cymru.

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