National Slate Museum Goes In Search Of Its American Cousins

By Graham Spicer | 08 March 2006
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  • Archived article
black and white photo of a group of men in early 20th century dress stood in front of a quarry's buildings and train tracks

The museum is hoping local people, and their American cousins, may have memories or information about the families that emigrated. Photo National Slate Museum

The National Slate Museum in Llanberis, North Wales, has launched an appeal for memories about local mining families who left for America.

It is twinning with Slate Valley Museum in Granville, New York state, and both museums are looking for more information about those who left Wales to search for a better life across the Atlantic.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, conditions were tough for the slate miners of North Wales and many left for the Granville quarrying area in upstate New York. The National Slate Museum will be gathering the memories of those at home and finding out if they are still in touch with their American cousins.

photo of a seated woman being helped to split a slab of slate by a man with a group of people in the background looking on

Mary Lou Willets from Granville's Slate Valley Museum on a visit to celebrate the twinning initivate. Photo National Slate Museum

“Over the coming months we will be looking at developing the relationship, sharing good practice, and looking at whether staff can spend time at Slate Valley Museum looking at the way in which they work,” said Dafydd Roberts, Keeper at Llanberis’ National Slate Museum.

The Slate Valley Museum will be running a similar appeal and it is hoped that the project may even help to reunite some families.

A series of further events is also planned for 2006 to raise the profile of both organisations and their twinning.

photo of a disused quarry and its buildings

The quarry as it looks today. Photo National Slate Museum

Mary Lou Willits, Director at Slate Valley Museum, is also keen to develop the links between the two areas.

“The opportunity to share good practice and to discuss developments with the National Slate Museum, whose subject matter is so similar to ours, is invaluable,” she said.

“We will also be supporting the appeal here in Granville, and will be promoting our partnership with our friends in Wales.”

black and white photo of a group of men in caps stood in front of a mound of slate

Dinorwig quarry employed more than 3,000 men at its peak. Photo National Slate Museum

The National Slate Museum is part of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museums Wales. It is housed in the former workshops of the Dinorwig Quarry, built in 1870. Dinorwig employed more than 3,000 men at its peak and finally closed in 1969.

The campaign is part of Amgueddfa Cymru’s wider international work, which is currently concentrating on North America.

If you have any memories about family members who left Wales for the quarrying areas of America or would like to know more about the museum’s activities, call them on 01286 873714.

More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned:
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