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National Library of Wales
Thomas, David, O.B.E., Aberystwyth, papers

Reference code(s): GB 0210 DAVMAS

Held at: National Library of Wales

Title: David Thomas, O.B.E., Aberystwyth, Papers

Short Title: Thomas, David, O.B.E., Aberystwyth, papers

Creation date(s): 1830-1939 (accumulated 1885-1939)

Level of description: Fonds

Extent: 0.377 cubic metres (13 boxes, 1 roll)

Name of creator(s): David Thomas


Administrative/Biographical history: David Thomas (1866-1940) was born at Llanwnnen, near Lampeter, Cardiganshire, the son of David Thomas, teacher and poet, and grandson of David Thomas of Llandysul, Cardiganshire. He was educated at the Old Grammar School, Lampeter, before re-joining his father as assistant teacher at Llanarth and Cribyn. He then passed a scholarship to enter the South Wales Training College. In 1887, he was appointed assistant master at Pengelli Council School, Wrexham, before becoming headmaster of Borthygest School, Porthmadog. He married Annie Carrington of Coedpoeth, Wrexham, on 29th December 1890. Having obtained his BA (Lond.) externally in 1892, he was appointed assistant inspector of schools under the Board of Education in 1893. During his 33 years as an inspector of schools he was based at Aberystwyth but his work took him to the counties of Merioneth, Montgomery, Carmarthen, Pembroke and Glamorgan. It was only in the ten years preceding his retirement in 1926, that he concentrated on Cardiganshire Schools. During his inspectorate he introduced a scheme to provide elementary schools in Cardiganshire with libraries. Outside his official duties, his most significant achievement was his work recording the oral traditions of Cardiganshire, including counting systems. He examined animal call-words in other languages, presenting in his book, Animal Call-Words: a study of human migration (1939) the thesis that such terms are likely to be the most ancient part of a language, and that their pattern reflects migrations of different tribes. As a result of his botanical and field research in Cardiganshire he was elected a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London. In 1918 he was awarded the OBE in recognition of his achievements as Honorary Secretary of the Cardiganshire War Savings Committee. He was chairman of the National Library of Wales Building Fund, 1928-1930, and an active participant in numerous committees and societies including the Cardiganshire Antiquarian Society (he was Honorary Secretary, 1925-1930, and Chairman, 1933-1940); and the Cardiganshire Food Economy Committee.


Scope and content/abstract: Letters, notes, articles, drafts and other papers, 1926-1939, relating to the work later published as Animal Call-Words: a study in human migration, published in 1939; folklore material collected by some Cardiganshire schools for the Cardiganshire Schools Folklore Collection and school inspectors' reports, 1917-1926; papers relating to David Thomas's interest in the philological history of Cardiganshire, with particular reference to the Goidelic language, 1924-1936; circulars, reports and correspondence of the Cardiganshire War Savings Committee, 1916-1918; papers of the Cardiganshire Antiquarian Society, 1910-1939; the National Library of Wales Building Fund, 1928-1930; personal papers comprising papers from his professional and academic career, 1885-1926, estate papers of his brother Daniel Jones Thomas (d 1926), and family papers, [c. 1886]-1928; and miscellanea including manuscripts of David Thomas of Nantygwydde, 1830-1847, Mary Thomas of Pantyclochydd, 1926, Dr G. Arbour Stephens, 1912-13, J. Toriel Williams, [c.1942-3], and J.W. Jones of Blaenau Ffestiniog, 1881-1934, together with press cuttings, letters to D.T., and various notes, pamphlets and verses.


Language/scripts of material: English, Welsh

System of arrangement: Arranged into the following : animal call-words; Cardiganshire schools; philological research; funds, committees and societies; personal papers; and miscellanea.

Conditions governing access: Readers consulting modern papers in the National Library of Wales are required to sign the 'Modern papers - data protection' form.

Conditions governing reproduction: Usual copyright regulations apply.

Finding aids: A hard copy of the catalogue is available at the National Library of Wales. The catalogue can be accessed on-line from: The catalogue includes an index to correspondents.

Detailed catalogue


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information: All records donated to the National Library of Wales have been retained.

Accruals: Accruals are not expected.

Archival history: A group of papers, 1830-1847, were given to David Thomas by Mary Thomas, Pantyclochydd, Llandysul, probably in 1926 when she handed over her own notebook to him.

Immediate source of acquisition: Donated by David Thomas, 1940


Publication note: Thomas, David,Animal call-words : a study of human migration (Carmarthen : Printed by W. Spurrell & son, 1939)


Note: Title based on contents of fonds. Some of the papers pre-date the life of David Thomas.

Archivist's note: Compiled by Seri Crawley for the ANW Project. The following sources were used for the preparation of the description: NLW Schedule, David Thomas, OBE, Papers.

Rules or conventions: This description follows ANW guidelines based on ISAD(G) second edition, AACR2 and LCSH.

Date(s) of descriptions: March 2003; amended September 2005

Animal calls | Great Britain
Folklore | Wales | Research
Goidelic languages | Great Britain
Human beings | Migrations
Oral tradition | Wales | Ceredigion
Philology | Wales | Ceredigion
Thomas, David, | 1866-1940 | Archives

Personal names
Jones , J. W. (John William) , 1883-1954
Stephens , G. Arbour (George Arbour)
Thomas , Daniel Jones , d. 1926
Thomas , David , 1866-1940
Thomas , David , of Nantygwydde , Llandysul
Thomas , Mary , of Pantyclochydd , Llanwenog
Williams , John Toriel

Corporate names
Cardiganshire Antiquarian Society
Cardiganshire War Savings Committee
National Library of Wales | Building Fund

Cardiganshire (Wales)
Llandysul (Ceredigion, Wales)

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