The twitter account @DyddiadurKate shares entries from the diaries of Kate Rowlands, Sarnau. Over a century later, her entries from 1915 tell a story about life in Wales during the First World War.

The diary was donated to the Museum in 1969, during a period when archive staff travelled to communities across Wales to record people telling their stories, in their own words.

Kate Rowlands' 1915 diary is a rich and nuanced account of life in rural Wales during the Great War. It gives us glimpses into everyday tasks, the names of fields and farms, local characters, dialects, as well chapel and farm life.

The diary is reproduced in Welsh, exactly as it was written, on twitter. You can read more about the personal stories we've uncovered about the First World War on the museum blog.

More about the Diary

The Author

Kate Rowlands' diary from 1915 was donated to the Museum in 1969. She also recorded a number of Oral History recordings with curators from the Museum, all of which add to our understanding of her life in rural North Wales, in the early to mid twentieth-century.

She was born in Brymbo, near Wrexham, in 1892. Her mother, Alice Jane, was originally from Hendre, Cefnddwysarn, and nine months after Kate was born, both mother and daughter returned to this area, following the sudden death of Kate's father from an illness sustained working in the steel industry. Her mother's family had a great influence on her upbringing - in one oral history interview with the Museum, Kate states that "y nhw oedd y canllawie gathon ni gychwyn arnyn nhw" - "they were the ones who guided us as we got started in life".

 

Homework to farm work

Kate's mother remarried with Ellis Roberts Ellis, who is also mentioned in the diary. In 1897, when Kate was five years old, the family moved to a small farm near Llantisilio, Llangollen, and then to Tyhen, Sarnau - the location of the diary. An only child, she left school at fourteen to help her parents with work on the farm.

"My parents lost their health to an extent. That really went across my going ahead with my education. I had to be home, you see... A bit of everything, jack of all trade. I had to help a lot with horses and things like that. Heating up the big oven to cook bread, and churning when it was called for, two times a week or so."

Kate 'Kitty' Rowland's Speakers' Card, from St Fagans' Archive

Oral History

Kate Rowlands donated her diary after being interviewed in 1969. Due to the tireless work of St Fagans' early curators, the archive now holds a rich collection of items, documents and recordings relating to women's history, especially women living and working in rural communities.

Kate also donated her 1946 diary to the Museum. This volume is also available online on twitter.

Read more about Welsh Women's History.

Kate Rowlands - Early life (Welsh recording)
Kate Rowlands - Week on the Farm (Welsh recording)

Blog Highlights

In addition to Kate's Diary, our curators and archivists discovered some amazing stories about the Great War and its effect on life in Wales.

painting of soldiers at Mametz by Christopher Williams

The Welsh at Mametz Wood

"In any other context, 100 year old mud probably wouldn’t have been very exciting, but this mud is so strongly linked in people’s minds with images of the First World War. Think of the trenches, and you think of mud. People slept, ate and died surrounded by this mud..."

[more info]

lapel pin and small photograph found inside, of Vincent Haydon Handley who died in 1915

Rediscovering Collections

"Before we began looking specifically for these objects, their potential to reveal stories about the conflict had not always been realised, and connections between objects not always made."

[more info]

 
detail from photograph of botanist Eleanor Vachell

Our Museum During the Great War

"Eleanor Vachell, spirited and outstanding amateur botanist who stepped in to take charge of the botany collections, while Cyril Mortimer Green was absent on military duty. She did this, with the help of pupils from Cardiff High School for Girls, whilst also ... working as both nurse and librarian."

[more info]

detail from embroidered tablecloth made by wounded soldiers

Stitching Soldiers

"At first glance, this white cotton tablecloth with a crocheted border looks, quite frankly, a little dull. But this rather unassuming textile hides a multitude of secrets."

[more info]

 

A National Story: First World War Collections

Hundreds of items relating to the First World War have been made available online: First World War Collections. Like Kate's Diary, collections dating from 1914-18 tell subtle, personal stories which shed new light on a global story.

Detail from knife, Museum Wales First World War collections

Utility Knife

Large multi-bladed clasp knife with a horn handle. Used by a member of the cavalry during First World War.

[more info]

 
gorsedd playset made by ww1 soldiers

Toy Set

A 'Gorsedd of Welsh Druids' play set, from a factory in Trefnant. The company employed soldiers who had been wounded in the First World War.

[more info]

pincushion made by soldier, ww1, Museum Wales

Pincushion

Embroidery and beadwork by an anonymous soldier recovering from injury.

[more info]

 
Detail of amulet, Museum Wales First World War collections

Charm

"Touch-Wood Amulet for Good Luck. Yorkshire Regt. 1917" from the Lovett charm collection.

[more info]

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