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Resources for Documentary Heritage Professionals


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Mobilizing the documentary heritage community amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Documentary heritage is an important resource for providing quality information and a historical perspective on how global health emergencies have been addressed in the past. UNESCO, through the Memory of the World (MoW) Programme, stands ready to support all Member States and memory institutions in their efforts to preserve and ensure public access to official records related to COVID-19. As part of this, we feature initiatives that harness the scientific, educational and artistic potential of documentary heritage to address the pandemic.

Turning the threat of COVID-19 into an opportunity for greater support to documentary heritage

Ethiopian poster illustrating the activities of the Smallpox Eradication Programme, 1970s. © WHO

UNESCO together with its partners has issued a statement, "Turning the threat of COVID-19 into an opportunity for greater support to documentary heritage" urging for greater support to documentary heritage during the COVID-19 crisis. It lays out four key areas of action for Member States, memory institutions as well as the greater public to ensure the effective use of documentary heritage in addressing the pandemic.

Read the Statement

Memory institutions worldwide are responding to COVID-19

Memory institutions around the world have shown incredible resilience in the face of this crisis. UNESCO invites you to engage in and share initiatives that harness the scientific, educational and artistic potential of documentary heritage to help its Member States address the pandemic.

Effective preservation practices and resources



  • Museums in Japan  - Japan Museums collect daily items to log pandemic history
  • The American Library Association - Handling Library Materials and Collections During a Pandemic
  • In response to Corona virus outbreak, the National Library and Archives Organization of Iran (NLAI) made available online and for free, more than 400'000 documents, including manuscripts, old photos etc. 
  • The Art Newspaper - Museums are chronicling the coronavirus pandemic for future generations: The New-York Historical Society and others are soliciting donations of objects and ephemera to document the "unprecedented times in which we are now living".
  • Public Source is building a collaborative archive of life during COVID-19: Ongoing project showcasing the many narratives that are currently happening around the world observing and recording the COVID-19 pandemic.

Leveraging Technology

Learning from Past Pandemics (media)

Blog: In Living Memory: Making the Most of Documentary Heritage in COVID-19 Decision-making

This blog strings together a series of short reflective articles by various experts from around the world on how documentary heritage is being enlisted in servicing citizens, scientists and policymakers as they seek to come to terms with Covid-19. The articles draw upon records held by memory institutions (archives, libraries, museums, research organizations, etc.) to make an empirical case for the importance of documentary heritage as a resource for decision-making about the multifaceted aspects of a global public health crisis. Overall, the blog aims to stimulate interest in documentary heritage as a key feature of any sustainable solution to a pandemic of global proportions in living memory.

You can access blog posts here: