Memory ── Connecting Ancient and Modern  記憶 ── 連繫古今

Origin and Background

The Memory of the World Programme can be traced back to the 20th Congress of UNESCO on November 28, 1978, at which the "Recommendations of Movable Cultural Heritage Protection” was adopted. That proposal stated that "cultural heritage includes not only immovable cultural heritage, but also movable cultural properties, such as special files, photographs, film, audio and video tapes, machine-readable records and manuscripts, ancient books, ancient transcripts, modern books and other publications”. During the visit in Sarajevo National Library in 1992, UNESCO Director-General Federico Mayor saw that the country's documentary heritage was deliberately destroyed by the civil war, and precious archives were damaged in the ruins. He was keenly aware that protecting the documents was as important as protecting human memory. Therefore, he actively promoted the establishment of the Memory of the World Programme, evoking people’s awareness in the protection of manuscripts, invaluable documents preserved by libraries and archives and also records of oral history, and emphasized these were shared memories of mankind which should be utilized without hindrance. Thereby this measures could prevent the loss of collective memory and demonstrate its value around the world, fulfilling the collective memory of humanity.


With the rapid growth of urban development, “humanity’s collective memory” became a hot issue around the world in recent years. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) established the Memory of the World Programme in 1992 and later the Memory of the World Register. Its purpose is to protect and preserve the human records from decay, damage and loss, and also to effectively promote these valuable records through digitalization and networking.