Finding Aid - Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club of America Collection (1936-2005)

2008:012

Collection processed by Norma Rosado-Blake

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PROVENANCE

A gift from Sandi Eaton of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club of America.

ARRANGEMENT

The collection is arranged into five series and several sub-series: (1) Meeting minutes; (2) Publications (a) Pembroke Welsh Corgi Newsletter, (b) Corgis in America, (c) catalogs, (d) books; (3) Documents; (4) Correspondences (a) national specialty; (5) Photos/Negatives. The meeting minutes series is arranged by date beginning with the first meeting in 1936 which is contained in a ledger. The publication series is arranged in order of importance with the club’s publications such as the newsletters, handbooks and catalogs. The documents series contain primarily financial records organized by several topical headings such as deposits, check requests, financial reports, etc. The correspondences include only one sub-series, the national specialty. The last series contain photos organized by its original order.

PWCCA minutes from their first meeting, 12 Feb 1936

HISTORY

The Club

The club held their first meeting on 12 February 1936 in conjunction with the Westminster dog show and admitted as an AKC member the following year. Their first specialty was held shortly there after. The club shares close ties with the Welsh Corgi League (UK); the League provides a section on American Corgis in their yearly handbook. During the 1950s the club asked Queen Elizabeth to join the American club as an honorary member. Although Her Majesty was apparently, according to her secretary, delighted that an American Corgi club had been formed, she declined membership based on protocol.

The club has done much to publicize the breed including its handbook, Corgis in America, which has been published since 1970. It is a compendium of articles, pedigrees and breeder referrals.

The Breed

There is much mystery surrounding the breed’s origin. As its name implies there is a long history associated with Wales, which is where its earliest history and legend lies. Additionally, there are many theories surrounding its true history.

A popular legend in Welsh lore finds the breed originating in feudal England. While tending to cattle on the lords’ land, two children found a pair of ‘foxlike’ puppies, which they presented to the adults. The adults, indulging children as it may be, replied that they were a gift from the fairies. It is believed the breed became instrumental to these people by toting carriages and herding cattle. Some truth behind the legend still exists. It is believed that the Welsh Corgi "...still bears the marks over his shoulders of the little saddle used by his fairy riders."1

Eng. Am. Ch. Sierra Bowhit Pivot

Yet there are theories abound as to when the Corgi originated. One theory suggests that the breed dates back to the Egyptian period, however, it is more plausible that it dates to ancient Welsh history. This holds much weight since during the 10th century, the Laws of Hywel Dda, were created to, among other things, place a value on herding dogs, or herdsmen cur, which were killed or stolen. It is difficult to determine if, in fact, these dogs were true precursors to the Corgi, however, it is evident that herding dogs had an important role in Welsh life.

Still two more hypotheses, W. Lloyd-Thomas’ theory and Hubbard’s theory, provide for a more conceivable history. Lloyd-Thomas was an expert on the breed and according to his research believed the Pembroke and Cardigan were developed as two separate breeds. Other research contradicts this.

Mrs. Douglas-Redding owner of Wolfox Kennels with two of her Corgis.

The Hubbard’s theory believes the Pembroke and Cardigan were developed via the Vikings. From Sweden the Vikings brought the Vallund, which was crossed with a native Welsh hering dog during the ninth and tenth centuries. This theory also states that their ancestors include breeds from the Spitz family such as the Schipperke brought by Flemish weavers. Eventually the dog came into favor with Henry I of England which ultimately influenced English life.

Yet a third hypothesis by Iris Combe agrees with Hubbard, however there is one marked difference. She postulates that Stone Age people on the British Isles may have utilized wild dogs in securing birds for sustenance and pagan rituals. Celtic tribes then moved to the British Isles and Scandinavia where greyhound like dogs mated with local dogs. It’s postulated that one breed, the Lundehund or Puffin dog is an ancestor of the Corgi. As the most recent research, Combe’s theory holds much weight in Pembroke history. With theories abound almost all agree on the Pembrokes’ modern history.

Images contained in this rare book include this one of a young Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret Rose with one of their Corgis.

The breed’s recorded history finds them in 19th century England as a working dog. The also made their way to the show ring with the first Pembroke shown at the Bancyfelin Horticultural and Agricultural Society show in 1892. Fast forward over thirty years later and the dog was shown under the Kennel Club’s (UK) rules in a separate class. In 1925 the English establish the world’s first Corgi club dedicated to serving primarily the Pembroke. The following year a separate club for the Cardigan was established.

In 1933, Mrs. Lewis Roesler (later Mrs. Edward Renner) imported the first Pembroke to America. She had an already flourishing kennel, Merriedip Kennels, which produced toping winning Old English Sheepdogs. She also owned the first Pembroke2 registered with the AKC in 1934, Ch. Little Madam of Merriedip. Other kennels that influenced the breed included: Waseeka, Andelys and Cote de Neige Kennels.

Its original function as a herding dog continues to influence their behavior today. Because their herding instinct is so strong, owners must properly train their Pembroke. However, given its hardwire to herd, they do make ideal family pets. The breed is known for it intelligence, versatility and determination.

SCOPE AND CONTENT

Since its founding, the club has maintained copious amounts of material including meeting minutes, photos, and financial data, that makes this collection comprehensive in nature.

Judge Virginia Keckler with Marjorie Butcher owner-handler of Cote De Neige Penny Saver, 1966

Their newsletters from 1962 until 1978 are bound. Of note are the original handwritten notes from their first and second years of existence which are found in the ledger. The 4 August 1949 meeting minutes were printed on delicate onion paper. The two page minutes were photocopied onto acid-free paper and originals placed in a polyprolene sleeve. A noteworthy item is the extract of minutes, which date from the first meeting in 1936 until 1962. It summarizes all major decisions in the early part of the club’s history. The meeting minutes from 1949 to 1993 were removed from their original binder. Contained within the meeting minutes are also valuable correspondences, incorporation papers, breed standards, membership lists and other pertinent information.

The PWC Newsletters were issued four times a year with their first issue in November 1961. Generally this is a complete sub-series.

Due to their sensitive material, the folders marked financial information, are closed; this is in accordance with the AKC Archives’ policy on closed files. You may read more about the policy at www.akc.org/about/depts/archive/mission_procedures.cfm.

The individual photos and negatives are from the club’s Corgis in America publication, which has been issued each year since circa 1969. Several contain not only the image of the dog, but also a pedigree. The bulk of the negatives were placed in negative envelopes whereas a few were stored in Melinex® polyester or polypropylene sleeves. There are several rare photos such as an image of Mrs. Douglas-Redding and Eng. Am. Ch. Sierra Bowhit Pivot, the first American Pembroke champion. This series contain the bulk of the collection.

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1 Harpers, Deborah S., The New Complete Pembroke Welsh Corgi. Howell Book House, Inc. (New York: 1979), p.1.
2 At this time, Pembroke and Cardigan were registered as Welsh Corgis.