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UNESCO Memory of the World Australian Register achieves 50 entries

A milestone of 50 documentary heritage items and collections recognised as vital to the telling of Australia’s history was celebrated at the State Library of New South Wales on 5 March 2015.

At a special ceremony for the occasion, Professor Marie Bashir, former Governor of New South Wales, presented certificates of inscription for three new entries on the UNESCO Memory of the World Australian Register.  This takes the total number of entries to 50 since the Register was inaugurated in 2001. The new entries inscribed on 5 March are:

  • Records of the European War Collecting Project, established by the Trustees of the Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales in 1918
  • The Gallipoli Letter, written by Keith Murdoch, 23 September 1915, held by the National Library of Australia
  • The Board for Anthropological Research Collections, 1923-1974, held by the South Australian Museum and the University of Adelaide.

“It’s very timely to have two records that contribute to our understanding of the First World War inscribed in the same year as the centenary of the Gallipoli campaign,” said Roslyn Russell, Chair of the UNESCO Australian Memory of the World Committee.

Certificate recipients Nat Williams (National Library of Australia), Alex Byrne (State Library of NSW ) and Susan Coppin (University of Adelaide) with Professor The Honourable Dame Marie Bashir AD CVO and Roslyn Russell, Chair of the Australian Memory of the World Committee, after the ceremony.

The UNESCO Australian Memory of the World register contains a select list of Australia's unique, irreplaceable and influential documents. It includes four sets of records from the National Archives: landmark constitutional documents of the Commonwealth of Australia; Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin’s design drawings for the national capital; records of displaced persons- Europeans who migrated to Australia after World War II; records of the High Court of Australia and the F.E. Williams Papuan photographic collection.

UNESCO launched the Memory of the World Programme in 1992 to guard against collective amnesia calling upon the preservation of the valuable archive holdings and library collections all over the world ensuring their wide dissemination. The Programme vision is that the world's documentary heritage belongs to all, should be fully preserved and protected for all and, with due recognition of cultural mores and practicalities, should be permanently accessible to all without hindrance. The Programme is thus intended to protect documentary heritage, and to help networks of experts to exchange information and raise resources for the preservation of, and the access to, documentary and archival collections of valuable records.