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archival descriptions
Audiovisual archives
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UNESCO-produced films

The first documentary films produced by the organisation were published in the 1950s in order to show the activities of the organisation and to promote them to the external public. In 1958 a unit for radio and television production was established and started to broadcast regularly images taken on the occasion of official visits of state presidents, journeys of the Director General, inauguration etc.

Audiovisual archives

  • FR PUNES AG 12
  • Archive Group

The photo and audiovisual archives consist of analogue and digital records dating from 1945 up until the present day.

  • Photographs: 140,000 black and white negatives; 1,000 colour 35mm négatives; 29,000 35mm colour slides; 15,000 duplicate cover slides; photographic prings, 1945 to the present.

  • Films: 12,500 cans, containing over 1,000 titles, 1951 onwards.

  • Audio reels: 30,000 audio recordings, including UNESCO Radio reports and interviews, and event and programme recordings, 1940s to 1980s.

  • Video tapes: 5,000 tapes, corresponding to 2,500 titles, 1983 onwards.

A part of Unesco's film and sound recordings, documenting Unesco events and meetings since 1945, are kept in the Unesco Phonothèque of the Sound and Telephone unit.

UNESCO radio programme

The aim of UNESCO radio was to contribute to the understanding of the ideals that the Organization stands for, through discussion of issues in the field of education, science, culture and communication. Around fifteen 30-minute feature programmes were produced each year in at least three official languages of UNESCO, English, French, Spanish or Russian. Their subjects, chosen on the basis of their interest both for UNESCO and the general public, covered a vast field ranging from Aids to astronomy, from biodiversity to bioethics, from street children to indigenous peoples, from the violence of war to the culture of peace.
The recordings were offered on tape or cassette to over 400 national, public and community radios in all parts of the world (257 stations broadcasting in English, 60 in French, 60 in Spanish and 42 in Russian) as well as to international short-wave broadcasters.

Photo archives

The photo archives cover the period from the foundation of UNESCO until today and contain photographic material of all big events, conferences, meetings which include the participation of the Director General, visits of the important persons and missions of the Director General. They further contain pictures used for exhibitions or publications of UNESCO and material donated by other institutions, member States of delegations.

[David "Chim"] Seymour - Calabre

The album consists of contact sheets of images taken by David Seymour while on assignment for UNESCO in Calabria, Italy, in the context of a programme on illiteracy; and typed notes/captions detailing information about the photographic subjects. Not all of the contact sheets are accompanied by explanatory notes.

Audio archives

The sound records contain mostly sound recordings of conferences and other events, speeches of the Director General and other important persons, but also music recordings, interviews and the UNESCO radio programs.

Sound records of conferences and meetings

These sound records contain mostly floor recordings of conferences and other events, speeches of the Director General and other important persons and systematic recordings of all meetings of the General Conference and the Executive Board.

Film archives

The film archives of UNESCO are divided into three parts:

  • The archives of film productions, containing about 7500 film cans of material produced by UNESCO itself.

  • The archives of reference films, containing about 1100 works which not have been produced by UNESCO itself but have been given to the organisation by NGOs, foreign film producers or member states.

  • The archives of distributed films, containing around 2500 copies of 210 films. These films have been produced by the organisation and concern different programmes or projects.

Online search of a portion of Unesco film material is possible via: UNESCO Archives Multimedia Database. Digitizing Our Shared Unesco History

All other film material is indexed in an electronic database, originally created and maintained by the Division of Public Information.

For questions regarding access to the film archives, or to request a search for film titles in the electronic database, please contact: archives@unesco.org