This section of the guide documents organizations within the UN system that have archives in Geneva. With its history of playing host to international organizations, it is no surprise that Geneva has many archives of internationalism. Further Geneva archives can be found in the section of the guide on NGOs.
UNESCO/ICA Guide: http://www.unesco.org/archives/sio/Eng/presentation.php?idOrg=1035.
Palais des Nations
CH–1211 Geneva 10
(00) 41 22 917 41 81
(00) 41 22 917 27 81
(00) 41 22 917 06 67
email@example.com; Contact form
Monday – Friday, 8.30am – 5.30pm
Archives Reading Room:
Monday – Friday, 9am – 12am, 2pm – 5pm
Holidays and UN holidays
The UNOG Archive is not held in the UNOG Library. It is situated in the Secretariat wing of the Palais des Nations, on the first underground level at Door 6, Office PN 080.
Readers should contact the library before arrival. All readers must have valid ID (ID card, passport, driving license, etc.), a student card, and a letter of recommendation from their university or research institute. Notes on how to get to the library can be found here.
The Archives contains three collections: the UNOG Registry Collection (1946-1973); the UNOG Registry Collection (1973- ); and the Records Retirement Collections (1946- ). The latter covers records of the UNOG Secretariat; the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights; the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs; the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development; and the Conference on Disarmament. Resource guides are available onsite, and a fuller list of holdings can be found here.
League of Nations
UNOG Library League of Nations Archives Palais des Nations CH–1211 Geneva 10 Switzerland
General Enquiries: (00) 41 22 917 41 81
League Enquiries: (00) 41 22 917 41 93
Fax: (00) 41 22 917 07 46
Monday – Friday, 8.30am – 5.30pm
Monday – Friday, 8.30am – 5.30pm
Holidays and UN holidays
A new Archives Reading Room, the John D. Rockefeller Jr. League of Nations and United Nations Archives Reading Room, was inaugurated on 10 September 2012 by the UN Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-moon, with the participation of Mr. Michael Rockefeller.
Dedicated in recognition of John D. Rockefeller Jr.'s visionary gift to construct and endow the League of Nations Library, the Archives Reading Room provides consultation space for both League of Nations and UNOG archives materials. More information on the inauguration (including a photo gallery and the speeches) can be found here and here.
The John D. Rockefeller Jr. LON and UN Archives Reading Room provides seats for up to 24 researchers, space for consultation of oversize objects, a microform reader, WiFi access, and four computer stations to access online research tools and materials. Researchers have access to the complete range of finding aids and research tools for the collections. Secondary resources related to the history of the League and the UN are also available. The archive contains 3,000 linear metres records of the League as well as peace movements and international relations from the end of the nineteenth century onwards. It contains the original files of the Secretariat and the files of the Commission, included files concerning the Financial Reconstruction of Austria and Hungary; the Saar Governing Commission; the Mixed Commission for the Exchange of Greek and Turkish Populations; the Upper Silesia Mixed Commission; the Refugees Mixed Archives Group; and the files of the Economic and Financial Section of the Secretariat based at Princeton. It also contains private papers of officials and delegates, including Secretaries-General, as well as those of peace campaigners and the International Peace Bureau. The archive also holds documents and official publications of the League, as well as working papers and minutes.
The archive holds a visual collection documenting peace movements; League personalities, delegates, actions, and the Palais des Nations; caricatures and posters; and the original interior designs of the Palais des Nations. An online League photo database can be found here.
UNESCO/ICA Guide: http://www.unesco.org/archives/sio/Eng/presentation.php?idOrg=1032
94 Rue de Montbrillant
(00) 41 22 739 81 11 (switchboard)
Monday – Friday, 9am – 1pm
The archives of the UNHCR maintain an outstanding website, through which all necessary information can be found.
The archives are split into three sections, all detailed folder by folder on the website with links to individual finding aids: the Headquarters Fonds, in which even more interesting files up to 1970 have recently been declassified in Fonds 11; the Field Fonds, containing reports from field offices around the world; and the External Fonds, containing some private papers and files relating to other UN agencies. UNHCR are increasingly adding sources that can be viewed online. Currently these are available for Algeria, Sudan, and Cyprus.
In order to protect privacy, especially that of individual refugees, all files are closed by default, but opened on application according to the access policy. Files are reviewed by UNHCR archival staff before research is allowed. To use the files, and before visiting the library, researchers must fill in the Document Request Form, indicating material in order of priority, and simultaneously complete a Research Application Form. These must be sent to the archives with proposed dates of research, with at least two weeks’s notice.
UNESCO/SIO Guide: http://www.unesco.org/archives/sio/Eng/presentation.php?idOrg=1019
International Labour Office (ILO)
4, Routes des Morillons
CH 1211 Geneva 22
(00) 41 22 799 81 06
(00) 41 22 799 78 57
(00) 41 22 798 86 85
Monday – Friday, 9am – 12am, 2pm – 5pm (by appointment only)
The ILO Archives serve as a repository for both Headquarters and Field Offices. They are accessible after thirty years, with permission from the Archives and after contact has been made.
The Archives contain around 70,000 files pre-1947, and over 200,000 files up to 1978. There are also special collections for each of the ILO’s Directors and Directors-General, as well as the private papers of C. Wilfred Jenks, photographic and audiovisual collections, and the records of the International Labour Office (Basel, 1890-1919). The ILO Library also has a strong collection of historical books and records on labour.
The ILO has begun its own History Project, the ILO Century Project, which has held meetings and started and Oral History Project. The Archives have also assembled a photographic history of the ILO, entitled ‘Seeking Peace by Cultivating Justice: A photographic history of the ILO’, downloadable as a .pdf.
The ILO Library also maintains a selective bibliography of works written about the organization.
UNESCO/SIO Guide: http://www.unesco.org/archives/sio/Eng/presentation.php?idOrg=1037
World Health Organization
Records and Archives
Avenue Appia 20
1211 Geneva 27
(00) 41 22 791 21 11 (switchboard)
Monday – Friday, 9am – 12am, 2pm – 4pm
The archives of the World Health Organization are based in Geneva. Access is by written request, by filling in the Electronic research/information request form.
The Archives contain documents from the WHO’s history as well as the League of Nations Health Section (copies of files held at the League of Nations Archive in Geneva), sound recordings, videos, stamps, and oral histories. There is also potential for contact with WHO’s regional offices, both through the central archives and the offices themselves.
The WHO archives maintain an excellent website, and scholars are advised to consult it before making further enquiries.
http://www.who.int/archives/fonds_collections/bytitle/en/index.html (some with online finding aids)
Fonds by theme:
UNESCO/SIO Guide: http://www.unesco.org/archives/sio/Eng/presentation.php?idOrg=1022
International Telecommunication Union
Library and Archives Service
Place des Nations
CH–1211 Geneva 20
(00) 41 22 730 67 70
(00) 41 22 730 53 26
Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm
The archives of the International Telecommunication Union hold material dating back to 1865, and are held at the ITU headquarters at the Place des Nations in Geneva. The Reading Room is on the sixth floor of the Montbrillant building, and valid ID is required for entry. Potential researchers should contact the ITU Library and Archives at least one week prior to arrival. Access is by appointment only. Researchers unable to travel to Geneva, or requiring minimal documents should send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
The archive’s documents are held under a 30-year rule. There is no online finding aid, but the holdings document the activities and administration of the ITU, and include a series of world and regional maps showing the extent of telecommunications networks between 1875 and 1930.
The ITU has begun a history project, the ITU History Portal, where holds a growing collection of digitized documents produced by ITU throughout its history as well as a number of pages that deal with various aspects of the organization's history.
Access rules and other information about the ITU Library and Archive:
UNESCO/SIO Guide: http://www.unesco.org/archives/sio/Eng/presentation.php?idOrg=1038
35, Chemin des Colombettes
1211 Geneva 20
(00) 41 22 338 8573
(00) 41 22 338 8590
Monday – Friday, 9am – 6pm
In addition to 35,000 monographs relating to intellectual property rights, the WIPO Library also holds an historical collection. This details international conferences – perhaps back to the signing of the Berne Convention – with minutes, and so on. Potential researchers are advised to contact the library directly.
Many of the files relating to WIPO have been looked after by the Swiss government. Though WIPO is the best place to find out more, a link to the Swiss Federal Archive is provided below.
Swiss Federal Archive:
5, chemin du Pommier
Case postale 330
CH-1218 Le Grand-Saconnex/Geneva
+41 22 919 41 50
+41 22 919 41 60
Hours: By appointment, generally Monday-Friday, 9.00am-5.00am.
Readers must contact the IPU secretariat and arrange for a visit before arrival. The collection contains all existing records produced by the IPU from 1889 onwards as well as correspondence and some personal papers of key figures from IPU history. Resource guides and catalogues are available onsite as is a limited number of digitized records.