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Exhibition traces Wales’ connection with the ‘New World’

A ‘New World’ exhibition, exploring the adventures of Welsh men and women, opened at The National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth on Saturday and runs until January 11, 2020.

The exhibition follows the adventures, both legendary and factual, of some of the Welsh men and women who have ‘discovered’, explored and settled in the ‘New World’. They include a Welsh prince, a tribe of Welsh-speaking Indians, a cowboy and two of America’s eminent citizens.

Wales’ relationship with the ‘New World’ has been the subject of many a discussion over the centuries. Items on display include Cronica Walliae (1559) by Humphrey Llwyd, the earliest known source to reference the legend of Madog, which claims that the Welsh connection with North America goes back as far as the 12th century.

Madog became an influential and legendary figure, inspiring individuals such as Iolo Morganwg to write extensively about him. A letter written by the explorer John Evans in 1792, which is an attempt to persuade Iolo Morganwg to join him on a journey in search of a tribe of Welsh Indians, can also be seen in the exhibition.

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Since the days of Madog, a large number of Welsh people have migrated to the ‘New World’ and the stories of some who have left their mark on the country are told in ‘New World’. Among them is Lewis Evans, who drew one of the most important American maps of the 18th century.

Visitors also get a glimpse of one of the adventures of Welsh cowboy Arthur Owen Vaughan, or Owen Rhoscomyl in ‘New World’, as well to marvel at the greatness of the western American landscape in a set of rare photographs taken by Carelton E. Watkins during the 19th century.

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Mari Elin Jones, ‘New World’ exhibition curator at The National Library, said: “The tales and stories associated with the history of Wales and America are remarkable and it is a pleasure to be able to bring them to the fore in this exhibition, through the library’s various collections. I hope that visitors from Wales and beyond will take this opportunity to see rare and interesting items that celebrate Wales’ relationship with the ‘new world’.”

Pedr ap Llwyd, the library’s chief executive and librarian, added: “The National Library of Wales is the ideal place to learn more about Wales’ relationship with the ‘New World’ and it’s a huge pleasure to welcome this exhibition which will provide us with a brief insight into the pursuits and journeys of many Welsh people who migrated to America over the centuries.

“We have an extensive collection that not only records the achievements of Welsh individuals and communities in Wales, but also their contributions across the world. Come along to the ‘New World’ exhibition to learn more about their adventures!”

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