Records to Remember

Documentary heritage represents our collective memories in tangible form. Memory of the World increases preservation of and access to this essential part of our shared humanity.

Juan Rulfo, ca (1950) by Manuel Álvarez BravoUNESCO Memory of the World

Our Memories and the Present

Memories shape our identities. They affect how we make sense of ourselves and our surroundings, how we interpret streams of information and make decisions. Memories aren’t just a thing of the past, they play a key role in helping us understand the present and predict what is likely to occur in the future.

Gazi Husrev-Beg Library illuminated manuscript, page 4 (12th - 15th cenuries)UNESCO Memory of the World

Collective Memory and Documentary Heritage

Our cultural heritage influences our collective memories. Documentary heritage includes the vast amount of information that has been created and stored in a variety of ways and passed on from generation to generation.

Ms 32, fol. 59r, detail (9th century)UNESCO Memory of the World

Documentary heritage comes in a wealth of varied forms including: papyrus, parchment, palm leaves, wooden and stone tablets, medieval manuscripts, books, maps, photographs, paintings, oral traditions, music, films, television, digital files and audio-visual media. It’s an essential part of humanity's collective memories and past.

Sketchbook of Georg Franz Müller, Cod. Sang. 1311, p. 49. (8th - 19th centuries)UNESCO Memory of the World

Collective Memories

Collective memories reflect our shared pool of recollections and our humanity. They’re how groups remember (and also forget) their past and make decisions on community, national, and international levels.

Anbandidi Gospel page 1 (9th-11th centuries)UNESCO Memory of the World

Failure to preserve the world’s documentary heritage would impoverish the heritage of humanity.

Re-entry (21st century) by United States Geological Survey (USGS) and the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)UNESCO Memory of the World

Documentary Heritage Today

The MoW Register has great potential for scientific research and education. For example, data collected from 17th century shipping records, data from 20th century land-imaging satellites, and 21st century tsunami accounts all assist with disaster risk reduction and emergency preparedness today.

The signing of Helsinki MoU (2005-09-15)UNESCO Memory of the World

Mutual Understanding and Reconciliation

Often countries jointly share and submit documentary heritage to the MoW International Register, but hold different perspectives on, sometimes painful, past events. Recognizing these differing points of view can catalyze inter-cultural dialogue and contribute to mutual understanding and reconciliation.

Atlas Blaeu (17th century) by Laurens Van der HemUNESCO Memory of the World

Documentary Heritage: Past, Present, and Future

Documentary heritage helps future generations to better understand the present and create a better future.

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