UNESCO Documents

Harvard College Library's Government Information Services are housed in Lamont Library. It serves as a central reference and referral point for government and international information. United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), a specialized agency of the United Nations, is active in education, science, culture, social and human sciences, information, and communication on a world-wide level. Its many documents and publications reflect this broad range of global involvement. This guide lists some of the most useful research tools related to this material and notes the location of the collections.

The UNESCO Collection at Harvard

For many years UNESCO maintained a depository system which included Harvard as part of its document distribution. However, in 1990, to reduce its costs, UNESCO greatly reduced this depository system, leaving the Library of Congress as its only depository in the United States.


This international organization is well described in:

Chronology of UNESCO 1945-1987
Location: Documents (Lamont) UN 1010.458 (Level D)

Guide to UNESCO, by Peter Hajnal
Location: Documents (Lamont) Ref AS4.U83 H33 1983

UNESCO, The Organization also gives a good overview.

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UNESCO Databases on the Web

UNESCO Documents and Publications is a bibliographic database of UNESCO's documents and publications as well as of its Library collection. Full text of UNESCO documents, publications and periodicals is being made available (N.B. Use advanced or expert search), with the number of full text documents continually being expanded.
Some of the UNESCO documents referred to in this database, which do not have full text available may be found at Harvard. They may be fully cataloged in HOLLIS Classic Catalog, the online catalog, or more likely, reside in large microfiche collections which can only be accessed by document or microfiche number. Consult a Documents Librarian for assistance.               

List of UNESCO Secretariat Main Series Documents 1946-1971 links to a pdf file which not only lists these early documents by subject, but also links them to pdf documents on the web. (See also Microfiche editions of the publications of the Unesco Secretariat from 1946-1979. Location: Microforms (Lamont) Microfiche W 5768) (Level D)

UNESCO Information Services/Databases is a gateway to multiple resources. It includes:

  • Over one hundred bibliographic and full text databases produced by UNESCO in the areas of education, natural sciences, culture, social and human sciences, communication and information.
  • Links to Information Services located at Headquarters and in the Field Offices.
  • Access to the UNESCO photobank, the worldwide translations database, thesauri, directories, etc.
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UNESCO Documents and Indexes, 1946 -

UNESCO documents and publications include conferences, reports, as well as the documents of the Executive Board and the General Conference. These are variously indexed. The following lists the general indexes first. The main bodies, their documents and specific indexes follow.

General Indexes

UNESCO List of documents and publications (various titles) 1949+ . Holdings:1993-1995; 1998-1999
Location: Documents (Lamont) Ref Z6483.U5 U45a

UNESCO databases
Location: Documents (Lamont) CD-ROM Doc Z6483.U5 U45a

UNESCO Documents and Publications. This online search database is updated daily and allows a basic search, which searches only the bibliographic information (author, title, etc.). An advanced or expert search allows for a full text search.


General Conference

This body consists of the representatives of the states members of the organization. Each country has one vote. Its main function is to set policies, to determine the focus of the organization's programs and to determine the budget. It also elects the members of the Executive Board and appoints the Director-General every four years.


    Manual of the General Conference 1964-1988
    Location: Widener: Educ 86.14.5

    General Conference Basic Texts
    Location: Widener: WID-LC AS4.U82 G46ax

    Records of the General Conference
    Location: Widener: Educ 86.75.3

    UNESCO General Conference Documents 22nd session, 1983+

    Documents of the General Conference (cat. C). 1st to 27th session, 1946-1994
    Location: Microforms (Lamont): Microfiche S 650 (Level D)


    Inventory of General Conference Documents 1946-1989
     Location: Documents (Lamont) Ref Z6483.U5 U452 1990



The Secretariat is the executive branch of the organization. It consists of the Director-General and his staff appointed by him. Currently the Secretariat employs over 2,o00 civil servants from some 170 countries.


    Secretariat documents,(Cat S) 1946-1979. Microfiche editions of the publications of the Unesco Secretariat from 1946-1979.
    Location: Microforms (Lamont) Microfiche W 5768 (LevelD)


    List of UNESCO Secretariat documents.
    Location: Documents (Lamont) Ref Z6483.U5 U454 1986
    (N.B. Use the Micro. No. noted in the bibliographies and indexes to find the document on fiche, e.g. Microfiche no: 71s0011  (with 71 being the year, s for Secretariat, 0011 being the fiche number in the sequence) can be found in the Secretariat fiche collection in Microfiche W 5768.

    List of UNESCO Secretariat Main Series Documents 1946-1971. This pdf publication not only lists these early documents by subject, but also links them in pdf format.


Executive Board

The Executive Board consisting of 58 member states meet twice a year. Its members are elected by the General Conference, each with a four-year term of office. The Executive Board makes recommendations on budgets, programs, admission of new state members, and on the appointment of a new Director-General.


    Documents of the Executive Board (cat. EX) 1st to 144th session, 1946-1995
    Microforms (Lamont) Microfiche W 5768.2 (Level D)
    (N.B. collection is filed by Microfiche number, e.g. Microfiche 73ex0047, not by document number)

    UNESCO's Executive Board Documents 105th session,1978+


    List of UNESCO Executive Board documents
    Location: Microforms (Lamont) Microfiche W 5768.2.1 (Level D)


Resolutions and Decisions

Resolutions are passed by UNESCO's General Conference, while decisions are made by the Executive Board.


    Resolutions and Decisions 1946+
    Location: Documents (Lamont) CD-ROM Doc AS4.U82 G46 1998

    UNESCO Documents and Publications: Resolutions and Decisions 1st session, 1946+
    Full texts of all resolutions passed and of decisions made since UNESCO's creation in 1946. Search by words of the text, resolution number, or date.



The Director-General, elected every four years by the General Conference, is the executive head of the organization.



    Inventory of speeches by the Director-General of Unesco 1946-1979 : English series of speeches in the Unesco Archives.

    Location: Documents (Lamont) Ref Z6483.U5 U5143 1980x F



UNESCO collection of various mimeographed documents arranged by UNESCO document number system.
Location: Documents (Lamont) UN 1010.50 (Level D)

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Statistical yearbook (UNESCO) 1963-1999 
Location: Widener Educ 86.82.5 (and other locations)

UNESCO Institute of Statistics Public Reports provides statistics for 1999+ , the years after the Statistical Yearbook paper edition ceased in 1999.

Basic facts and figures (UNESCO)  Holdings:1954,1956,1959-1961  
Location: Widener Educ 86.6

UNESCO Institute for Statistics provides online statistical databases for a wide range issues within its core themes. There are links to archived data as well:

Science & Technology
Culture & Communication

This database of the United Nations Statistical Office provides access hundreds of statistical series for all countries and areas of the world, with descriptions of the international sources and methods used in compiling the data. The series can be accessed alphabetically, by source, including UNESCO, or by topic. For each series international sources and definitions of terms are given.

LexisNexis Statistical
Select "Search Abstracts" and then limit search to "International and Intergovernmental sources (IIS)" for international statistics, which include UNESCO publications. Though some documents are linked and available directly online, most will be available only in microfiche:
IIS microfiche library
Location: Microforms (Lamont) Microfiche S 505 (Level D)
Consult a Government Documents librarian for assistance in accessing the collection.

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UNESCO's Regional Offices and Communities

In addition to the Paris headquarters, UNESCO also has many regional and field offices. Consult UNESCO WorldWide for links to units away from headquarters.

UNESCO credits its UNESCO Communities, including its national commissions and other associations in the fulfillment of its mission at the local, national, and international level.

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Page Last Reviewed: December 18, 2009