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The UNESCO archives consist of materials received or prepared by the Organization in the exercise of its functions: agreements, contracts and other written instruments, correspondence files, reports, manuscripts, documents, publications, audiovisual material, micro-copies and other documentary material.

UNESCO Archives
© 2009. UNESCO


The holdings of the Archives Unit include all categories of records that reflect the execution of the Organization's activities since 1946. In addition, they also comprise documents, correspondence files and publications of the bodies that preceded UNESCO:


  • the International Institute for Intellectual Cooperation, 1925-1946 (IIIC)
  • the Conferences of the Allied Ministers of Education, 1942-1945 (CAME)
  • the Conference for the Establishment of UNESCO, London, 1945
  • the Preparatory Commission for UNESCO, 1945-1946 (Prep.Com).

Outside the Archives Unit, the Audiovisual Section, Bureau of Public Information, keeps the major part of the audiovisual collections covering the period 1950 to present, namely:

  • a film collection of 12,500 cans, containing a little over 1,000 titles 1951-;
  • about 5,000 video tapes, corresponding to approximately 2,500 titles, 1983-;
  • a photograph collection containing about 29,000 35 mm colour slides, 140,000 black and white 35 mm negatives, 1,000 colour 35 mm negatives and 15,000 duplicate colour slides
  • over 30,000 radio tapes.


The holdings of the Archives consist of more than 10,000 linear meters of occupied shelving of textual records and documents, photographs, sound recordings and 120,000 microfiches. A growing number of e-mails and electronic documents are archived, following the launching of an electronic records management initiative at UNESCO in 2004. By December 2009, more than 4,250,000 electronic records had been archived in the electronic records application. Since 2004, the Archives and Records Management Unit has also regularly crawled the UNESCO portal and archived three complete snapshots of Internet and Intranet per year.


Archives of Field Units

The bulk of the archival holdings of the UNESCO Field Offices are for the time being kept by these units themselves. Nevertheless, records from a few Field Offices, Instiutes and Centres have so far been transferred to the UNESCO Archives at Headquarters, for example from:

  • UNESCO Research Centre on Social and Economic Development in Southern Asia (URCSA), New Delhi, India;
  • UNESCO Regional Office for Latin America and the Carribean (HAVCO);
  • Middle East Science Co-operation Office, Social Science Section (MESCO);
  • UNESCO School Building Institutes (ARISBR);
  • International Institute of Educational Planning (IIEP);
  • Washington Liaison Office (WLO);
  • Venice Office etc.