Total Digital Access
In 2017, the Institutional Memory Section of the UN Library Geneva launched a major five-year project (2017-2022) to digitize the entire League of Nations archives
, with the aim of modernising access to institutional memory for researchers, education institutions, and the general public.
This project, called Total Digital Access, will ensure digital and physical preservation and state-of-the-art free online access to around 15 million pages, or almost three linear kilometres of archival documents of the League of Nations (1920-1946), the first global international organisation aiming at the establishment of peace and cooperation and the precursor of the United Nations.
The project will result in 160TB of data, over 500.000 units of descriptive metadata, rehousing and conservation of all physical originals according to current standards, and modernised climate control and fire prevention.
The Total Digital Access project is made possible through a generous donation of a private Swiss foundation.
Photos from the presentation of a selection of the documents to be digitized as part of the Total Digital Access project, copyright UN Library Geneva.
Previous digitization projects
The Institutional Memory Section of the UN Library Geneva has undertaken several successful in-house and cooperative digitization projects that have led to the digitization of over 100,000 pages of the historical archives.
Projects by the Institutional Memory Section
Council and Council-Member States documents. Work continues on other portions of the League Official Documents. These documents are accessible online at: http://search.un.org
Universal Declaration of Human Rights preparatory materials, Sean Lester diaries, and Bertha von Suttner Papers are available online at: http://biblio-archive.unog.ch
Projects with Member States
The Institutional Memory Section and the Permanent Mission of Georgia signed a digitization agreement on 3 February 2012. In February 2015, the National Archives of Georgia sent two specialists to Geneva to begin the digitization of roughly 25,000 pages of material from the private papers collection of Khariton Chavichvili (1886-1975), a prominent Georgian diplomat and journalist.
Completion of the initial digitization. From left to right: Mr. Onise Gabisonia, National Archives of Georgia, Mrs. Blandine Blukacz-Louisfert, Chief of the Institutional Memory Section, Mr. Zviad Melkadze, National Archives of Georgia, Mr. Colin Wells, Chief of the Archives Management Unit.
After the completion of the initial digitization, the National Archives of Georgia will assist in the description of the material, as much of it is in the Georgian language. The Chavichvili papers provide a unique window into the history of Georgia during the Interwar Era and beyond. These archives consist of Chavichvili’s correspondence and manuscripts, as well as books and other publications about Georgia, U.S.S.R., and international relations. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2015.
Over 25,000 pages of League of Nations archival materials related to Azerbaijan and its neighbouring countries were digitized as part of a collaboration project between the Institutional Memory Section of the United Nations Library Geneva and the Government of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
The project agreement was signed in December 2016, and the handover of the digitized documents took place in September 2017. Photo: Deputy Prime Minister of Azerbaijan Mr Ali Hasanov (left) inspecting some of the original documents from the collection together with UN Library Director Francesco Pisano and Chief of the Institutional Memory Ms Blandine Blukacz-Louisfert (right).
The collection includes a diverse set of documents, including official correspondence, Caucasus countries’ applications for League of Nations membership including maps and surveys on culture and politics, and the League’s official documents related to Azerbaijan and neighbouring countries.
The project, entitled “Digitization of the League of Nations Archives Related to Azerbaijan 1919-1946,” is aimed at assisting the research activities of the National Library of Azerbaijan and at further improving regional dialogue and cooperation in the Caucasus region.
Over 35,000 pages of archives relating to Lithuania’s activities at the League of Nations (1920-1946), the first global international organisation aiming at the establishment of peace and cooperation and the precursor of the United Nations, are now available online.
The digitization agreement was signed in March 2014. (From left to right : Mrs. Blandine Blukacz-Louisfert, Chief of the Institutional Memory Section, Mr. Michael Møller, Acting Director-General of United Nations Office at Geneva, Mr. Ramojus Kraujelis Chief Archivist of Lithuania, and H.E. Rytis Paulauskas, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Lithuania to the United Nations in Geneva.). It was completed early 2015.
The digitized files are now available at both the Central State Archives of Lithuania and the United Nations Archives at Geneva, as well as being available online, providing truly global access to these unique and significant materials that provide evidence for a critical period in the history of Lithuania.
In addition to improving access, the digitization of these documents provides a digital surrogate that is sufficient for most research needs, meaning that the original physical records will be handled less often, protecting them from possible damage and wear, and thereby improving their long-term preservation.
Digitized materials related to Lithuania at the League of Nations
Projects with partners
World Digital Library
Highlights of the League of Nations Archives; in collaboration with the Library of Congress (US government) and UNESCO, complete and available online at http://ww.wdl.org.
League of Nations Photo Archive
Over 1,400 photographs from the League of Nations; in collaboration with Indiana University, complete and available online at: http://www.indiana.edu/~league.
Khariton Chavichvili Papers
Digitization of approximately 30,000 pages of materials from the private papers of the renowned Georgian diplomat and journalist; in collaboration with the Government of Georgia, digitization complete, post-digitization work under way.
League of Nations Refugee Mixed Archive Group (Nansen Fonds)
Over 300,000 pages of the Nansen refugee fonds, in collaboration with Fritt Ord and the Norwegian National Archives; complete and available online at: http://biblio-archive.unog.ch.
League of Nations archives concerning minorities, including the High Commissioner for Refugees (Jewish and Other) Coming from Germany
Approximately 40,000 pages of archives materials, in collaboration with the US Holocaust Memorial Museum; digitization complete, post-digitization work under way.