Twenty-nine documentary collections in 24 countries have been inscribed on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register. These additions bring to 120 the total number of inscriptions on the Register to date. They include, for the first time, collections from Albania, Azerbaijan, Colombia, Cuba, Italy, Lebanon, Namibia, Portugal, Sweden, Ukraine, United Kingdom and United States of America. The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, approved the inscriptions, which were recommended by the 14-member International Advisory Committee of UNESCO’s Memory of the World Programme.
At its most recent meeting in Lijiang (China), from June 13 to 16, the Committee also recommended that the first UNESCO Jijki Memory of the World Prize be awarded to the Czech National Library. The US$30,000 Prize is given biennially to individuals or organizations who have made a significant contribution to the preservation and accessibility of documentary heritage
UNESCO’s Memory of the World Programme, and Register, were established to preserve and raise awareness of documentary heritage, the memory of the world, which reflects the diversity of languages, peoples and cultures. The programme was born of the realization that this memory is fragile and that important documentary material is lost every day. The International Advisory Committee is made up of international experts appointed by the Director-General in their personal capacity, and meets every two years to study nominations by UNESCO Member States.
The collections inscribed this year are:
Albania - Codex Beratinus 1 and 2, of the 6th and 9th centuries respectively. Beratinus 1 is one of the three or four oldest surviving Gospel codices and contains non-standard pre-canonical passages. Beratinus 2 contains Gospel writings from the standard-text period. Its uniqueness stems mainly from its format: gold letters on purple parchment. The codices are kept at the National Archives of Albania in Tirana.
Austria - Collection of Gothic Architectural Drawings. The collection of 425 drawings ranging from 5 cm to 4.5 metres in size, is unique and indispensable to the study of the buildings of the Gothic period (1150–1550 A.D.). Only a total of 500 such drawings are known to exist in the world today. These drawings date from 1400 to 1550 and are among the oldest surviving architectural drawings. They bear testimony to the epoch in European history when major constructions began to be undertaken on the basis of advance planning of every detail. The collection features the only surviving architectural drawings for, among others, the cathedrals of Vienna, Cologne, Ratisbone, Strasbourg, and Ulm. They are kept at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna
Austria - Brahms Collection. The collection of Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) is based on the bequest of the composer, one of the leading figures of Romantic music. It includes manuscripts of Brahms own works, study copies of works of other composers written by Brahms himself for his own use, galley proofs of his published works, working copies of the first editions of Brahms’ works, first and early editions, as well as original manuscripts, of works by other composers, correspondence addressed to Brahms, his music and literary library, guidebooks, photographs and more. The Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Wien (Society of Friends of Music in Vienna), which holds the collection has complemented the original bequest over the past century.
Azerbaijan – Medieval manuscripts on medicine and pharmacy. The collection of three medieval works on medicine and pharmacy includes some unique manuscripts. All of these books are fundamental works, which were widely used all over the Muslim World and influenced the development of medicine and pharmacology in Azerbaijan and in many neighbouring countries. The collection consists of Zakhirai-Nizamshahi, Supplies Of Nizamshah, by Rustam Jurjani; Al-Qanun Fi at-Tibb; Canon Of Medicine, by Abu Ali Ibn Sina also known as Avicenna; and Al-Makala as-Salasun, Thirteen Treatise, by Abu al-Qasim al-Zahravi also known as Abulcasis. Together the works comprise of 363 manuscripts of copies produced from the 12th to the 19th centuries. Two-hundred and twenty-two are in Persian, 71 in Turkish and 70 in Arabic. The works are kept by the Institute of Manuscript of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences.
China - Golden Lists of the Qing Dynasty Imperial Examination. The Golden Lists are the name of candidates, written, in both Chinese and Manchu, on a sheet of yellow paper, who passed the Palace Examination, final stage – supervised by the Emperor himself - in the sequence of civil service recruitment examinations, during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). The collection numbers over 200 Golden Lists and spans the 6th year of Kangxi reign (1667) to the 29th year of Emperor Guangxu (1903). All documents have high calligraphic value, and can be considered pieces of art in their own right. They also testify to a civil service recruitment system which dates back more than 1300 years, to the Sui Dynasty (581 A.D.) and which reached its zenith in the Qing Dynasty. The system had international impact and influenced recruitment systems in Japan, Korea and Vietnam, as well as several European countries. The collection is kept at the State Archives in Beijing.
Colombia - Negros y Esclavos archives. The collection documents the slave trade from the 16th to the early 19th centuries in Cartagena, a major slave port on the Caribbean coast of modern Colombia. It is a component of the documentation of the wider international slave trade. These unique archives provide evidence of all aspects of slavery in the New Kingdom of Granada: the maltreatment of slaves, their sale and marketing, their role in daily domestic work, their work in the mines and on the large estates, of their protests, and, finally, of their rebellion.
Cuba - Fondo “José Martí Pérez”. The fonds includes 2,435 documents corresponding to the period of literary, journalistic, revolutionary, diplomatic, biographical and personal work of José Martí (1853-1895), the author and social activist whose influence has had an enduring influence on Latin American culture. Manuscripts by José Martí account for 1,821 titles whereas 415 are documents on Martí or related to him. The collection also includes correspondence, notably with his family. The fonds is kept at the Centro de Estudios Martianos (Marti study centre) in Havana.
Egypt –Deeds of Sultans and Princes. Four-hundred scrolls of title deeds which belonged to the Princes and Sultans who ruled Egypt, starting from the Fatimid era to the end of the Mamluke era, i.e. 979 A.D. to 1517 A.D. The collection provides information about social, economic and political life throughout the region over six centuries. Written on papers and parchments, in roll-form, the longest deed is 40 metres long and its width ranges from 34 centimetres to 45 centimetres. The title deeds give a precise description of places in Egypt including streets, hallways, shops, buildings, mosques, churches, learning centres and libraries in addition to a precise description of the places of worship in Syria and Palestine. The collection is considered as the oldest in the National Archives of Egypt, Cairo, where it is kept.
France and the United Kingdom - The Appeal of 18 June 1940. General de Gaulle’s speech, broadcast from London to France by the British Broadcasting Corporation, and the poster containing his appeal, are regarded as a turning point in World War II and in French national history. The appeal was a declaration of hope and defiance that marked the French resistance to Nazi occupation. It is remembered and celebrated to this day. It exemplified the power of radio used as a weapon of war rather than entertainment to launch a movement, and influenced the development of resistance movements in other countries. The material placed on the Register consists of the handwritten text of the appeal, the radio recording, the manuscript of the poster featuring the appeal, and the poster itself. The nomination is submitted jointly by the Institut national de l’audiovisuel in Paris and the British Broadcasting Corporation in London.
France - Introduction of the decimal metric system, 1790-1837. This archival collection includes the text of the original proposal concerning weights and measures, submitted to the French National Assembly by the Bishop of Autun (Talleyrand) in 1790, as well as subsequent legal texts on this issue dating from 1791 to 1837. It also features the platinum prototype standard metre with case, made by Lenoir in 1799 and the platinum prototype standard kilogram, made by Fortin in the same year. Since the late 18th century the metric system has become almost universal, replacing the confusing myriad of measuring systems previously in place. It has become the only system used in the sciences. The items in this collection are held by the Centre historique des Archives nationales (National Historical Archives Centre) in Paris.
France - Lumière Films. The archive of 1,405 film titles produced by the cinema pioneers, mostly between 1896 and 1900. It contains a wealth of documentary material, in France and all over the world, and features rare footage of world leaders such as Queen Victoria and King Umberto of Italy. It also documents military footage exercises and parades, scenes of daily life, ceremonies and official visits. Titles moreover include historic drama titles and comedy, as wells as circus and music hall acts, and family scenes (mainly of the brothers’ family). The collection is kept by the French Film Archives.
Germany - Kinder und Hausmärchen (Children’s and Household Tales of the Grimm Brothers). This early edition of the Grimm tales’ (1812/1815), annotated by them, is the reference edition for the stories they collected and which have since been translated into 160 languages. These tales have proved to be an inexhaustible source of inspiration for creators working in the arts, music, theatre, film and the new digital media. The tales have many sources and were influenced by Perrault and by the Arabian Nights and represent the global fairy tale tradition. The collection is housed in the Brother Grimm’s Museum in Kassel.
Hungary (and other nations, see below) - Bibliotheca Corviniana. Widely acknowledged during the Renaissance as the second greatest collection of books in Europe, after that of the Vatican, the library contains works written for King Mathias (1458-1490) and copies of the most important documents known at that time. The collection of works on philosophy, theology, history, law, literature, geography, natural sciences, medicine, architecture, etc. represents the literary production and state of knowledge and arts of the Renaissance. The collection is held by the National Szechenyi Library, Hungary; Austria’s National Library, Austria; Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Italy; Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel, Germany; Bibliotheque Nationale de France, France; Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München, Germany; Koninklijke Bibliotheek Van Belgie, Belgium.
India - Saiva Manuscripts in Pondicherry. This collection of 11,000 palm-leaf and paper manuscripts in Sanskrit, Tamil and Manipravalam focuses mainly on the religion and worship of the Hindu god Siva. It includes the largest collection in the world of manuscripts of texts of the Saiva Siddhanta, a religious tradition, which spread across the Indian subcontinent and beyond, as far as Cambodia in the East. The Pondicherry manuscripts, dating from the 6th century A.D. to the start of the colonial period, are kept at the French Institute of Pondicherry.
Italy - The Malatesta Novello Library. The library contains works on philosophy, theology and biblical nature as well as classical and scientific books from different provenances. It is a rare example of a complete, beautifully preserved collection from the mid-15th century, just before the advent of printing in Europe. The collection is a unique example of a humanistic library of the Renaissance, a time when the dominance of Christian writing and teaching was giving way to more secular considerations. The collection is kept in its original building in the town of Cesena.
Kazakhstan - Nevada-Semipalatinsk, the International Anti-Nuclear Movement. The Nevada-Semipalatinsk archive records the activities of the first antinuclear non-governmental organization created in 1989 on the territory of the former USSR. The NGO was created to protect humanity from the nuclear threat, destroy all nuclear test facilities in Kazakhstan, establish public control of industrial wastes, and draw an
ecological map of the region. The documentary collection, including audiovisual archives, records the action of the “Nevada-Semipalatinsk” movement, which ended nuclear arms tests at the Semipalatinsk Polygon. These tests had caused great harm to the environment and health of the people of Kazakhstan. The collection is kept in two archives in Kazakhstan: the Central State Archive and the State Archive of Film, Stills and Sound Recordings, both in Almaty.
Lebanon - Evolution of the Phoenician Alphabet. The inscribed alphabet on the sarcophagus of King Ahiram of Byblos, 13th century B.C., is the earliest known example of alphabetical as opposed to hieroglyphic or cuneiform writing. It is the base from which most subsequent alphabets have been developed. The sarcophagus is kept by the National Museum in Beirut.
Lebanon - Commemorative stela of Nahr el-Kalb, Mount Lebanon. The Commemorative Stele of Nahr el-Kalb on Mount Lebanon are a series of stones pillars depicting Lebanese history from the 14th century B.C. to the present through the inscriptions left by successive armies, Pharaonic, Assyro-Babylonian, Greek, Roman, Arab, French and British. Situated on a strategic north-south road, the stela, carved with inscriptions in different languages, evoke the history of Lebanon and testify to its relations with the rest of the Middle East and the West.
Mexico - Biblioteca Palafoxiana. Established on its present premises in Puebla in 1646, the library contains books printed before, during and after the colonial period from the year 1473 up to 1821. The books are still ordered according to the system used when the library was first established. It is a rare, if not unique, survivor from the earliest days of the Spanish colonization of the Americas, and reflects the European heritage of America.
Namibia - The Hendrik Witbooi Papers. The Letter Journals of Hendrik Witbooi are the official archive of an African leader in Namibia towards the end of the 19th century. They consist of four ( or possibly more) books into which Witbooi, and his scribes, entered in- and out-going diplomatic and administrative correspondence, treaties and proclamations, offering a rare example of the victims’ perception of encroaching colonialism. Written in Cape Dutch, the lingua franca of diplomatic correspondence in 19th century Namibia, the papers give insights into the nature of colonialism and into the differences between African and European legal concepts. Hendrik Witbooi (traditional name Nanseb Gabemab, ca.1835-1905), resisted German advances from 1884 to 1894 by attempting to forge a united African front. During the war of anti-colonial resistance (1904-1908) he rose against German occupation and died in combat 1905. The correspondence is matter-of-fact and businesslike, but in its programmatic parts it reaches a poetic and visionary quality, which draws both on biblical language (from the Dutch Bible translation) and on African folklore. Most of the papers are kept at the National Archives of Namibia with one part in private ownership in Munich, Germany.
Norway - Roald Amundsen's South Pole Expedition (1910-1912) film. A unique film collection, which documents events of the first expedition to reach the South Pole. Though the material is incomplete, it is made up of original sequences, filmed between 1910 and 1912, consisting of negative film and first and second-generation print material, kept by the Norwegian Film Institute and the National Library.
Portugal – Letter from Pêro Vaz de Caminha. This letter, written at Porto Seguro (Island of Vera Cruz, Brazil) on the 1st of May 1500 to Manuel I, King of Portugal, is the first record describing the land and people of what was to become Brazil. Written at the time of its discovery by Europeans, and recording its annexation to the crown of Portugal, the letter is rich in detail and shrewd observations that bear witness to the encounter of the “old” and “new” worlds. Pêro Vaz de Caminha started his Letter on 24 April and finished it on 1 May, the date when one of the vessels of the fleet sailed for Lisbon to announce the good news to the King. It is kept at the Instituto dos Arquivos Nacionais Torre do Tombo (National Archives), Lisbon.
Serbia and Montenegro – The Miroslav Gospel - Manuscript of 1180 A.D. is one of the richest manuscripts of its kind and the most prominent representative of the style that emerged from the fusion of Italian and Byzantine influences. The wealth and quality of its decoration and the beauty of its penmanship are outstanding among Slavic illuminated scripts. The manuscript, consisting of 181 bound sheets, is kept in the National Museum in Belgrade.
Sweden - Astrid Lindgren Archives containing nearly all the original manuscripts, including a few unpublished early texts, shorthand drafts, press clippings and an extensive collection of international correspondence collected by one of the most influential writers of literature for children and young adults in the 20th century. The collection bears testimony to the enormous work of the author of books such as the Pippi Longstocking series and to her role in Swedish society. Astrid Lindgren (1907–2002), whose works have been translated into more than 85 languages, bequeathed her archives to the Royal Library of Sweden.
Sweden – Emmanuel Swedenborg Collection. The collection of approximately 20,000 pages, was given to Sweden’s Royal Academy of Sciences after the death of Emmanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772), a scientist-turned religious writer, who had been a member of the Academy. It is one of the biggest existing collections of manuscripts from the 18th century, and besides one of the very few in modern times that has served as the basis for a new Christian church. Swedenborg's message has found many receivers all over the world, and at least some of them look upon his manuscripts as relics. The collection covers Swedenborg’s years as a scientist and a technician as well as his life after the religious crisis he went through in the 1740s. The collection is still kept at the Royal Academy.
Trinidad & Tobago - C.L.R. James Collection The C.L.R. James Collection consists of original documents including correspondence, manuscripts, pamphlets, personal and literary papers of the late Cyril Lionel Robert James (1901-1989). James was a leading theoretician of the Trotskyite wing of American communism and the main ideologue and leftist thinker of the nationalist movement in Trinidad and Tobago during its most radical phase from 1958 to 1960. Born in Trinidad and Tobago, C.L.R. James spent much of his life in Britain and the United States. His influence spanned the Caribbean, Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. The collection is kept at the University of the West Indies, in Trinidad.
Ukraine - Collection of Jewish Musical Folklore (1912-1947). The collection of 1,017 wax cylinders and transcriptions of Jewish folklore recorded between 1912 and 1947 in Ukraine and Belarus, is the largest such collection anywhere. It features wordless chants, instrumental pieces, songs, religious music played in synagogues, klezmer music, and little-researched popular genres such as purimshpil. These recordings constitute invaluable source material for the study of the almost vanished art and traditions of Ashkenazi Jews in the early 20th century. The collection is kept at the Vernadsky National Library of Ukraine in Kiev.
United Kingdom - The Battle of the Somme film of 1916 is the first feature-length documentary to record war in action. The film influenced the course of history as it awakened public consciousness during World War I and marked the development of documentary and propaganda war films. It remains an icon of the period and has also retained its importance as a cornerstone of the film collection of the British Imperial War Museum where the film’s oldest existing master copy is still kept.
United States of America supported by Germany - Universalis cosmographia secundum Ptholomaei traditionem et Americi Vespucii aliorumque Lustrationes. Made in 1507, the map is recognized as the first to show correctly the existence of a separate Western Hemisphere and of the Pacific Ocean. This monumental cartographic achievement is also important for being the first printed wall map of the world. Furthermore, it is the first map to give the name of “America” to the New World, in honour of Amerigo Vespucci. Produced by Martin Waldseemüller in Saint Dié or Strasbourg, France, it contains fresh information derived from the Spanish and Portuguese expeditions of the late 15th and early 16th centuries. The map was kept in Germany until 2003 and has been in the United States’ Library of Congress since.