Memory Archive: Using our resources to stimulate reminiscence

1. Our records

2. Historic postcards

3. Special collections

4. ‘Memory Archive’ on People’s Collection Wales

5. Fields of Play: The Sporting Heritage of Wales


On Wednesday 22 November 2017 the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, in partnership with Aberystwyth University School of Art, held an event exploring how archives can be used as a source of material to create activities, walks, stories and artworks to help stimulate reminiscence and memory for those living with dementia. You can read an account of the day in one of our blogs.


1. Our records

The Commission’s archive, the National Monuments Record of Wales (NMRW), holds countless treasures. Because our archive contains many images that show where people may have lived, worked, played, married or worshipped, it is very relevant to those who want to reminisce. This is enhanced by the fact that a large number of the photographs in our archive come from the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s – in other words, the period within living memory. The NMRW is available for consultation via the online database, Coflein.

To see a small selection of images which are available on Coflein, have a look at:

Alternatively, do your own search:

Back to top


2. Historic postcards

Of particular interest in terms of memory and reminiscence are the many historical postcards held in the archive. The NMRW covers the whole of Wales, and street scenes, iconic sites, chapels and sea sides may hold dear memories and associations.

Ton Pentre, early 1950s, before road widening

Tabernacl Independent Chapel, Cefneithin, early twentieth century

Aberystwyth seafront, c.1910

To search for these postcards online, go to Coflein, click on “Archive” and then in the “Free text” box type in “postcard” and a town name, for instance Aberystwyth. Finally, tick the box for “Restrict your search to records with online resources?” and click “Search Archive”. You can download the low-resolution image for free – for personal research – or contact the Enquiry Service to purchase a high-resolution image.
Back to top


3. Special collections

Other special collections in our ‘Memory Archive’ include:

Not only are these images beautiful to look at, they also record the considerable changes that places have undergone in the last century.

Back to top


4. ‘Memory Archive’ on People’s Collection Wales

‘Memory Archive’ is a People’s Collection Wales initiative, led by the Royal Commission. It is a curated account, aimed at facilitating reminiscence work with people living with dementia.

Find us or search for ‘Memory Archive’ and filter on ‘Collections’. Collections are divided into relevant themes and decades (within living memory), based on feedback received from healthcare professionals.

As part of the People’s Collection Wales partnership, we will be working closely together with the National Library of Wales and Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales to develop this work further.

Back to top


5. Fields of Play: The Sporting Heritage of Wales

Superbly illustrated with historical and contemporary photography, Fields of Play (2012) – written by Daryl Leeworthy and published by the Royal Commission – explores the diversity of sporting facilities from public parks and open-air swimming baths to welfare grounds, stadiums and the role of the countryside as a national playground. If you are interested in purchasing this publication for reminiscence use, please contact the Commission for a reduced price.

Back to top

Latest tweets