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Date updated: 11/03/2024


The stated aim of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) is to enhance peace, security and sustainable development by fostering international collaboration through its work in education, science, culture, communication and information.  In this aim it is assisted by national commissions within each of its member countries. One of the UK National Commission (UKNC)’s core priorities is to advise and support individuals and organisations within the UK, its Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies in accessing UNESCO accreditation and prizes. One such means of accreditation is the Memory of the World Register.

The Memory of the World Programme aims to preserve, promote and protect written and audio-visual heritage through a series of registers where documentary heritage of significance can be inscribed. The registers form a catalogue of the world’s most prized documentary and archival heritage. Each member country has its own register, and there is also a separate international register. The International Memory of the World Register recognises documentary heritage of global significance and includes UK-based documents such as the Magna Carta of 1215, the archive of the West India Committee and the personal and working papers of Winston Churchill and Isaac Newton.

Memory of the World UK

The UK Memory of the World Register honours documentary heritage of national and regional significance and includes documents such as the 1916 film ‘The Battle of the Somme’, the death warrant of King Charles I and Dorothy Wordsworth’s journal. The UK Memory of the World Committee consists of a voluntary team of expert, UK-based librarians and archivists, who administer and review applications to the UK register. The committee also advises on UK applications to the International Register but is not involved in the selection process for the International Register.  Two members of the UK National Commission also sit on the committee as observers.

Every two years the committee invites applications to the UK register. Applications are assessed on the significance of the documentary heritage to the UK as a whole, and to the region in or for which it was created. Single items are considered, as well as whole archival collections or discrete series of records. The UK register currently contains 75 items or collections of outstanding significance to the UK, of which four are held by LMA:

(LMA’s Shakespeare deed is part of the Shakespeare documents which are part of the International Register.)

For more information about the UK Memory of the World Programme see the UNESCO website