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Documentary heritage

Memory of the World  
Photo: © Austrian National Library

Memory of Austria

The aim of UNESCO’s Memory of the World Programme is to support Member States in preserving and organising documents of all kinds. This includes not only collections of documents that are already available, but also handling the exponentially increasing amount of knowledge and documents we are facing. UNESCO lists the documents and collections that are important to the memory of humanity in the Memory of the World Register to make them visible and raise awareness. Additionally, UNESCO encourages the Member States to establish and manage regional and national registers of documentary heritage.

The National Memory of Austria Documentary ´Heritage Register was established on behalf of the Culture department of the Austrian Federal Chancellery in 2014. It displays documents and collections that are of exceptional significance and historical importance to Austrian cultural memory. The Memory of Austria Register is expanded every two years and currently comprises 59 valuable manuscripts, legacies, documents, prints, photos and films. The collection ranges from documents from the 12th century to the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye from 1919 to the legacies of Robert Musil and Ingeborg Bachmann. The selection is made by an advisory committee for information preservation, which was established specifically for this purpose / the Memory of the World National Committee

© Heinz Bachmann
© Austrian State Archives
© Phonogrammarchiv of the ÖAW

“We want to use the register to create a balanced representation of the historical eras, the wide range of types of documents and, of course, also the origin or location of documents in Austria. However, Memory of the World does not have a ranking system for the documents as they are all important in their own right, a registration form as much as a medieval manuscript. The significance of listed documents – in both the Austrian and international registers – should illustrate particularly clearly the understanding of the UNESCO programme’s actual goal, which is the long-term preservation of diverse types of knowledge.” Dr Dietrich Schüller, Chairperson of the Advisory Committee on Information Preservation/Memory of the World National Committee.

Memory of Austria postcard series

The documents and collections entered were published as postcard collections. The postcards use images to document and illustrate the diversity in Austria’s collection of documents and are intended to make the register more visible to the public.