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Mission of the UNESCO Archives


The Archives Service of UNESCO was established in 1947. The first holdings were inherited from the predecessors of UNESCO: the International Institute of Intellectual Cooperation (IIIC), the Preparatory Commission of UNESCO (Prep.Com.), the Conference of Allied Ministers of Education (CAME), and the Conference for the Establishment of UNESCO. UNESCO records start in 1946 with the first General Conference and Executive Board Documents. In 1995, records management was added to the responsibilities of the UNESCO Archives, from then on also in charge of the classification and codification of all programme sector files. In 2004, the UNESCO Archives launched an electronic records management initiative in order to preserve the growing number of e-mails and electronic documents.


UNESCO's archives are the institutional memory of the Organization. They are constituted by materials received or prepared by the Organization in the exercise of its functions. The mission of the Archives and Records Management Unit is therefore twofold: to document the history and activities of the Organization since 1945 (and its predecessors) to the present day and to help the Secretariat to manage its records today in order to ensure their preservation and accessibility.
More about UNESCO Archives' policy

UNESCO Archives offers guidance and helps to identify primary source material on topics of interest. The Archives' staff assist by orientating researchers upon arrival and by providing guidance for handling the archival material and the use of reference documents, which are available in the reading room. The reading room is equipped with a microfiche reader-printer, a photocopy machine and a computer.

There is no charge to researchers for use of records or for limited copying at UNESCO. The UNESCO Archives reserves the right to refuse copy services if the materials are likely to be damaged or if materials must be altered to make copying possible. This applies in particular to bound books and extremely fragile material.
Researchers are encouraged to bring a digital camera to the reading room to make their own copies of accessible materials, subject to preservation and related considerations.