Y Cyfaill o’r Hen Wlad (The Friend from the Old Country, 1838–1933) was the first Welsh-language periodical to succeed in the United States, and one of the longest lasting within the Welsh-American press. This paper looks at the strategies employed by its founder and first editor, William Rowlands, examining ways in which he created a literary sphere which appealed to Welsh-speaking Americans and supported the ways in which they were engaged in the processes of creating Welsh-language American culture. Looking specifically at religion, politics, language, literature and culture through a variety of narratives gives us a broad sense of the double-faceted Welsh-American identity in that period.
Although the monthly journal was considered to serve the Calvinistic Methodist denomination, it also contained a variety of news, education and cultural endeavours that strived to appeal to the nation as a whole. It also provided an open forum for discussion of social, political and cultural realms in their native tongue, ensuring they remain a distinct nation against the new backdrop of the United States. Immigrants from this minority nation created a new identity, as they entrenched themselves in their adopted landscape as American citizens, whilst maintaining a strong connection with the Old World and its values. This “transatlantic” connection was maintained through the aid of frequent correspondence and an array of literary contributions carried back and forth between both countries. These narratives combined portray a colourful insight into the migrants’ experiences of settlement, along with the features they considered central to the articulation of their multifarious national identity.