Series - Representative Works

Identity area

Reference code


Representative Works


  • 1948 - 2005 (Accumulation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

Ca. 1,300 works

Context area

Name of creator


Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

The UNESCO Collection of Representative Works (or UNESCO Catalogue of Representative Works) was a UNESCO translation project that was active for about 57 years, from 1948 to about 2005. The purpose of the project was to translate masterpieces of world literature, primarily from a lesser known language into a more international language such as English and/or French. There were ~1,300 works in the catalog, consisting of over sixty-five different works of literature and representing around fifty Oriental languages, twenty European languages, and a number of African and Oceanian literatures and languages. The project also included translations from one less widely known language into another.

UNESCO financed the translations and publications, but UNESCO itself was not a publisher, instead working with other publishers who sold the books independently.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


As of about 2005, UNESCO was no longer able to fund new translations. Thus, there are no further accruals to this sub-fond expected.

System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Catalog of all works translated by UNESCO since 1948: Literature & Translation database.

Documents and publications of the UNESCO Representative Works programme: UNESDOC database.

Catalogues available in the UNESCO Archives:

  • AG 7/6 OER: Unesco Collection of Representative Works: catalogue (Unesco programme for the translation of literary works),1989;

  • AG 7/6 OER: Selected lists of representative works of Arabic, European and Latin American literature;

  • AG 7/6 OER: List of Representative Works of World Literature,1973.

Archival series:

Central Registry files, 1st series, 1946-1956:
803 A 064
803 A 52

Proposals of Member States:
CLT/MAN.2 (1973)

Administrative and financial records (publication transactions):

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Exemplars of all works in the archives and UNESCO library

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Related descriptions

Notes area

Alternative identifier(s)

Access points

Subject access points

Place access points

Name access points

Genre access points

Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used


Level of detail




Maunick, Edouard J.:A Library of world classics. In: The Unesco Courier: a window open on the world. XXXIX, 1, 1986, p. 5-6, 8.

Accession area

Related subjects

Related people and organizations

Related genres

Related places