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Become a UNESCO Memory of the World Inscription

About the Memory of the World Programme

The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Memory of the World (MoW) is a worldwide expert-led programme, which seeks to “help preserve, improve access to, and increase awareness of, the world’s documentary heritage.”

As part of its awareness-raising brief, UNESCO runs International, Regional and National Memory of the World Registers to highlight humanity’s most important documentary heritage.

Documentary heritage is defined by the MoW Programme as any item(s) which:

• Are moveable
• Consist of signs or codes, sounds and/or images
• Can be conserved (the supports are inert elements)
• Can be reproduced and replicated on different media or formats
• Are the result of a deliberate documentation process.

As such, it includes items from manuscripts to printed documents, maps to banners, audiovisual formats and digital data.

More detail on UNESCO’s definitions of documentary heritage can be found HERE.

More information about the Memory of the World programme is available HERE.

Why Apply?

The UNESCO UK Memory of the World (UKMoW) programme seeks to help protect, preserve and make permanently accessible to all the disparate and diverse documentary heritage of the United Kingdom, it’s Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories.

Through the UKMoW Register, our aim is to champion and raise awareness of lesser-known and overlooked material of national significance, placing it alongside better-known items – e.g. The Domesday Book – to truly highlight, represent and celebrate the contribution and impact of individuals, groups and communities to our collective national life.

The UNESCO UKMoW Register is one of many national MoW Registers around the world. It welcomed its first Inscriptions in 2010. The documentary heritage Inscribed on it has been judged to be of outstanding value and importance to the history and culture of the people of the United Kingdom.

New items are added to the Register on a two-year cycle. They are assessed by a volunteer committee of experts with significant and wide-ranging experience as archivists, museum curators, librarians and academics, across multiple disciplines and time periods.

The UK National Commission for UNESCO works closely with the UK Memory of the World Committee in the nomination and inscription of new UK inscriptions onto the UK and International Register. All UK archival institutions wishing to apply for Memory of the World Inscription must submit their application through the UK Memory of the World Committee.

The Process

Step 1

Read the guidance in the handbook and carefully consider what documentary heritage you want to nominate and why. Then make sure you measure your choice against the assessment criteria.

Step 2

Before you start completing the form it is a requirement to call a member of the UNESCO UK Memory of the World Committee, to have an informal telephone or video chat about what you intend to nominate and why. This is a chance for you to ask any questions you may have and to get helpful feedback on your proposed nomination.

To book a call please contact either: Rachel Hosker (Chair) [email protected]  or Justin Cavernelis-Frost (Vice-Chair) [email protected]

Step 3

Using the detailed guidance in Section 3, and with reference to the case study in Section 4, complete the electronic nomination form which can be found HERE.

There is no limit to the length of a completed nomination form, but if it exceeds 20 pages then you should ask yourself whether everything you have included is absolutely necessary to make the case for Inscription.

If you have any questions not answered by this handbook while completing the form, please do get in contact with the Chair or Secretary, using the details given above.

Step 4

Using the checklist at the back of the handbook, make sure that you have completed all of the relevant forms and gathered together all your supporting evidence.

Step 5

Submit all your documents electronically via e-mail to Rachel Hosker (Chair) [email protected] or Justin Cavernelis-Frost, (Vice-Chair) [email protected]

If the submission documents are large, please use a file transfer service such as WeTransfer, DropboxTM or OneDrive to send them. You will receive an acknowledgement of receipt.

What happens next?

Once your nomination has been submitted, it will be assessed by the full UKMoW Committee. You will be confidentially informed of either the success or failure of your nomination in the first week in May. The public announcement of the newly Inscribed collections, and an awards ceremony, will be staged in June / July. If your documentary heritage is successfully Inscribed on the Register, you will be informed about the date and location of the awards ceremony as part of your notification in May.

You can find out more about the MoW Committee HERE.

Key Information

Make sure you read the information on this page and contained in the Handbook before you apply to become a UK UNESCO Memory of the World Inscription. You must apply through the UK Memory of the World Committee.

STATUS:   Applications closed for 2024


FOR WHO:   Individuals or Organisations



If you have any questions, get in touch with the UK Memory of the World Committee using the contact details found on this page, or in the Handbook.

Download the UK Memory of the World Committee Handbook

The Handbook contains detailed guidance on the UK Memory of the World Programme, eligibility and the assessment process. It also contains the process of nomination in detail, and case studies on how to complete the nomination form.

It is essential to consult this document before contacting the UK MoW Committee and proceeding with the nomination process.

Download the Handbook

Accreditation type: Memory of the World Register

Download important documentation to begin your application to become a UNESCO Memory of the World Inscription

Download the Handbook
Download the Nomination Form
Meet the UK MoW Commitee