Dr Mary Gillham MBE (1921 – 2013) was a pioneering female naturalist and prolific wildlife author, who took an active interest in our natural heritage for over 50 years. In 1959 she was part of the first Antarctic expedition to include women, and in 2008 she was awarded an MBE for services to nature conservation. She spent many years educating people about their natural heritage, as a lecturer for Cardiff University, and campaigned tirelessly for nature conservation throughout her life.
In 2013 Dr Gillham passed away and left a significant archive to SEWBReC. The eloquent writing, beautiful illustrations and fascinating photographs combine to give a unique insight into Dr Gillham’s life and the history of nature conservation in South Wales. The archive also contains a wealth of scientific data, which is currently locked away in inaccessible and irreplaceable paper documents.
The Dedicated Naturalist project will
- extract and unlock this data, capturing it digitally
- and archive the physical documents to safeguard their future (with Glamorgan Archives).
The project will also inform local people about Dr Gillham’s work and engage them with their natural heritage through:
- a series of wildlife recording and outreach events,
- an exhibition
- and through the creation of interactive online resources.
The aims of the project are to:
- Capture the biodiversity records and historical memoir
- Promote the life and work of Dr Mary Gillham
- Engage people with their local biodiversity
Volunteers will play an essential part in achieving the goals of this project. With something like:
- 150000 wildlife records to mine out of 20 boxes of assorted papers,
- 14000 slides to digitise (and recover records from),
- 2 unpublished manuscripts to make available digitally,
- an oral record of Mary’s life to create,
- a website, social media presence and blog to create,
- plus biodiversity events, school/community group visits and led walks to organise and run…
There is no shortage of tasks!
There will be opportunities for volunteers to complete training in various skills such as digitisation, recording software, oral history recording and archive packaging and labelling. Volunteers will also be supported through any other tasks to which they contribute.
The Mary Gillham Archive Project is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The Mary Gillham Archive Project is overseen by a Steering Group consisting of people representing:
Cardiff Naturalists Society
Merthyr Tydfil Borough Council
National Museum Cardiff
Natural Resources Wales
South East Wales Biodiversity Records Centre
Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales