Wales experienced a lower rate of outward migration in the nineteenth century than most other European countries. This was due to its mineral wealth which enabled the growth of large scale industry, which in turn absorbed the surplus rural population. Wales's leading position in the fields of mining and smelting resulted in demand from other countries for the expertise its miners, artisans and managers possessed. Whilst the coal, iron and steel producing region of the Pennsylvania-Ohio Coalfield formed the most important single destination of Welsh industrial emigrants, they were also employed in mining fields and smelting works across the world. Their emigration from the mid nineteenth century to the First World War resulted in widespread technology transfer and a two-way flow of emigrants and money to and from Wales, for some worked abroad only temporarily and others became return-migrants for various reasons. In conjunction with a doctoral student at Cardiff University who was has been employed as a temporary researcher, Industry curatorial staff have researched both the wider trends of this migration and the detail of three dozen case studies to a wide range of destinations and representing all the major Welsh industries.
The major output of this work will be an exhibition to be held at National Waterfront Museum June to September 2008 and to tour thereafter. The exhibition ties-in with the National Waterfront Museum's longer-term displays on immigration and emigration, which will in due course be refreshed and expanded by drawing on this research.