Fonds GB 0210 DAVMAS - David Thomas, O.B.E., Aberystwyth, Papers,

Identity area

Reference code



David Thomas, O.B.E., Aberystwyth, Papers,


  • 1830-1939 (accumulated 1885-1939) / (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

0.377 cubic metres (13 boxes, 1 roll).

Context area

Name of creator

Biographical history

David Thomas (1866-1940) was born at Llanwnnen, near Lampeter, Cardiganshire, the son of David Thomas, teacher and poet, and grandson of David Thomas of Llandysul, Cardiganshire. He was educated at the Old Grammar School, Lampeter, before re-joining his father as assistant teacher at Llanarth and Cribyn. He then passed a scholarship to enter the South Wales Training College. In 1887, he was appointed assistant master at Pengelli Council School, Wrexham, before becoming headmaster of Borthygest School, Porthmadog. He married Annie Carrington of Coedpoeth, Wrexham, on 29th December 1890. Having obtained his BA (Lond.) externally in 1892, he was appointed assistant inspector of schools under the Board of Education in 1893. During his 33 years as an inspector of schools he was based at Aberystwyth but his work took him to the counties of Merioneth, Montgomery, Carmarthen, Pembroke and Glamorgan. It was only in the ten years preceding his retirement in 1926, that he concentrated on Cardiganshire Schools. During his inspectorate he introduced a scheme to provide elementary schools in Cardiganshire with libraries. Outside his official duties, his most significant achievement was his work recording the oral traditions of Cardiganshire, including counting systems. He examined animal call-words in other languages, presenting in his book, Animal Call-Words: a study of human migration (1939) the thesis that such terms are likely to be the most ancient part of a language, and that their pattern reflects migrations of different tribes. As a result of his botanical and field research in Cardiganshire he was elected a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London. In 1918 he was awarded the OBE in recognition of his achievements as Honorary Secretary of the Cardiganshire War Savings Committee. He was chairman of the National Library of Wales Building Fund, 1928-1930, and an active participant in numerous committees and societies including the Cardiganshire Antiquarian Society (he was Honorary Secretary, 1925-1930, and Chairman, 1933-1940); and the Cardiganshire Food Economy Committee.

Archival history

A group of papers, 1830-1847, were given to David Thomas by Mary Thomas, Pantyclochydd, Llandysul, probably in 1926 when she handed over her own notebook to him.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Donated by David Thomas, 1940.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Letters, notes, articles, drafts and other papers, 1926-1939, relating to the work later published as Animal Call-Words: a study in human migration, published in 1939; folklore material collected by some Cardiganshire schools for the Cardiganshire Schools Folklore Collection and school inspectors' reports, 1917-1926; papers relating to David Thomas's interest in the philological history of Cardiganshire, with particular reference to the Goidelic language, 1924-1936; circulars, reports and correspondence of the Cardiganshire War Savings Committee, 1916-1918; papers of the Cardiganshire Antiquarian Society, 1910-1939; the National Library of Wales Building Fund, 1928-1930; personal papers comprising papers from his professional and academic career, 1885-1926, estate papers of his brother Daniel Jones Thomas (d. 1926), and family papers, [c. 1886]-1928; and miscellanea including manuscripts of David Thomas of Nantygwydde, 1830-1847, Mary Thomas of Pantyclochydd, 1926, Dr G. Arbour Stephens, 1912-13, J. Toriel Williams, [c. 1942-3], and J. W. Jones of Blaenau Ffestiniog, 1881-1934, together with press cuttings, letters to D.T., and various notes, pamphlets and verses.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling

Action: All records donated to the National Library of Wales have been retained..


Accruals are not expected.

System of arrangement

Arranged into the following: animal call-words; Cardiganshire schools; philological research; funds, committees and societies; personal papers; and miscellanea.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Readers consulting modern papers in the National Library of Wales are required to sign the 'Modern papers - data protection' form.

Conditions governing reproduction

Usual copyright regulations apply.

Language of material

Script of material

Language and script notes

English, Welsh.

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

A hard copy of the catalogue is available at the National Library of Wales. The catalogue includes an index to correspondents.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Related descriptions

Publication note

Thomas, David,Animal call-words : a study of human migration (Carmarthen : Printed by W. Spurrell & son, 1939).

Notes area


Title based on contents of fonds. Some of the papers pre-date the life of David Thomas.

Alternative identifier(s)

Virtua system control number


Project identifier


Access points

Place access points

Genre access points

Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru = The National Library of Wales

Rules and/or conventions used

Description follows ANW guidelines based on ISAD(G) 2nd ed.;AACR2; and LCSH


Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

March 2003; amended September 2005.


  • English



Archivist's note

Compiled by Seri Crawley for the ANW Project. The following sources were used for the preparation of the description: NLW Schedule, David Thomas, OBE, Papers;

Accession area