Archive Group AG 3 - Preparatory Commission of UNESCO

Identity area

Reference code



Preparatory Commission of UNESCO


  • 1945-1947 (Creation)

Level of description

Archive Group

Extent and medium

The archives of the Preparatory Commission, occupy 9 linear meters of shelving.
Documents and records of meetings are bound in 15 volumes and there are in addition 17 boxes and units of unbound documents (2nd copy).
Correspondence files with mail registers comprise 50 boxes and units.

Context area

Name of creator

(1945-11-16 - 1946-12-06)

Administrative history

The Conference of the Establishment of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation adopted on 16 November 1945 not only the UNESCO Constitution but also an Instrument establishing a Preparatory Educational, Scientific and Cultural Commission. During the year 1946, the commission held six sessions.
In the first plenary meeting of the Commission Ellen Wilkinson, Minister of Education of Great Britain, was elected as the President of the Commission and the post of the Executive Secretary was held from 1 March 1946 by Julian Huxley until he was elected first Director-General of UNESCO on 6 December 1946.
On 4 November, Greece became the twentieth country to ratify the Constitution of UNESCO and by this act the organisation come legally into being. The first session of the General Conference opened on 20 November in Paris and worked until 10 December. Upon the election of the Director General on 6 December, the mandate of the Preparatory Commission expired and the Commission was dissolved, but its staff continued to work as the Secretariat of UNESCO under its chief administrative officer, the Director General.


Archival history

The records as transferred to the UNESCO Archives were checked, listed and bound under the supervision of Mr. Jan Opocensky, a former Delegate of the Commission, then Member of the Executive Board from 1946-1948, and the Archivist of UNESCO from 1949-1957.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

The archives of the Commission can be divided into two main parts: Official Documents and correspondence files.
It should be noted that documents and copies of documents were often put into the files. In some cases there is no printed document, or, in a few cases, the existing original typescript has been bound with the documents. If a document is missing from the bound volumes, the original could also possibly be found in the file. Therefore, it is important to consult both the documents and files.

The documents, by their nature as working tools of the Commission members, Member Governments and the Staff, exist in several copies and were distributed to all those mentioned above.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


No further accruals expected.

System of arrangement

The correspondence of the Commission and its Executive Secretary are filed in blue folders according to a filing plan of British origin with numerical, partly alpha-numerical numbering of the files with a three level classification (for example: 9/1/112 Secretariat – final organisation).

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

  • English
  • French

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

  • AG 3/1: Prep.Com. Inventory of archives: The inventory contains detailed lists of documents and files.
  • AG 3/2: Name and subject index of the correspondence files: card-index which refers firstly to the correspondence of the Commission (governments, institutions, organizations and individual persons) and secondly to subject matters dealt with in the correspondence; references are to individual letters.
  • AG 3/3: Mail register: chronological register-book of letters received between 21 March and 17 December 1946; letters after that date should, in principle, be filed in the Unesco Secretariat files (registry files); file numbers of individual letters indicated.
  • AG 3/4: Card-index of documents.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

All original documents are kept in the UNESCO archives.

Existence and location of copies

The copies of the documents should also be available in the Archives of the Member Governments of those years.

Related units of description

Related descriptions

Publication note

Huxley, Julian: Unesco, its purpose and its philosophy. London, Preparatory Commission of Unesco, 1946.

Opocensky, Jan: The Beginnings of Unesco I-II 1942-1948. Paris 1949-1950. Non published manuscript in the UNESCO Archives; Vol. I: Survey of the first years; Vol. II treats the constitution.

Notes area


The official working languages of the Commission were English and French and therefore, most of the documents, including meeting records, exist in both languages. There are, however, fewer documents in French than in English.


Documents in English have been reproduced on microfiche: in all 70 fiches.
In addition, the working documents containing the proposals for the programme and budget of the new organization submitted to the first General Conference exist on microfiche.

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Description control area

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Rules and/or conventions used


Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

Created by Julia Pohle, June 2009. Revised slightly AWT 20 March 2012.




Accession area

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physical storage

  • Shelf: Prep.Com.