United Nations Archives and Records Management Section
- United Nations Archives and Records Centre
1st Avenue at 46th Street
In 1945, the United Nations (UN) was founded in San Francisco by 50 nations. There, a small archives unit served to assemble the first records of the organization; this was the first iteration of today’s Archives and Records Management Section (ARMS). Throughout its history, the fortunes of the UN Archives have waxed and waned, while its role has continuously evolved. Trying to carve out a place for itself within the largest international organization in the world, its physical and administrative structures have undergone profound changes, as has its mission, number of staff, the type of records it holds and its users.
The United Nations Archives and Records Management Section:
- Provides records and information management services to the UN Global Secretariat
- Preserves and provides access to the Organization’s historical archives
The United Nations archives cover four broad areas: Predecessor Organizations, Secretaries-General, Secretariat Departments, and ad hoc and temporary bodies including peacekeeping and political missions.
ARMS is located near the United Nations Headquarters on the east side of Manhattan, New York City. The exact address will be provided to you once you have registered for an appointment.
United Nations archives are arranged into groups, or ‘fonds,’ according to the office or entity that created them. The creating entity could be a department, mission, commission, tribunal or any other United Nations functional unit. ARMS has created Finding Aids for each of these groups which describe and list the archives within them.
Finding aids can be used to gain better knowledge of a specific office, field operation, or person. You can also search for archives using ARMS search engine.
Research guides dive deeper into subjects, linking to various records held by the United Nations, as well as linking to outside resources.
Hours are 9:00 am -5:00 pm, with folders returned to reference desk staff by 4:30 pm.
The research room is closed on United Nations Headquarters official holidays.
Archives over 20 years old are generally open to the public for research, unless the classification level of "Strictly Confidential" (or related) applies.
The United Nations Archives and Records Management Section has an accessible entrance, bathroom and will make every effort to ensure people with physical disabilities can use its Research Room. Please let ARMS know in advance if you have any questions or special needs so we can better assist you.
Email to schedule an in-person research appointment.
When planning your visit to the United Nations archives please allow adequate time for background research and take account of the extent of the material you want to consult.
The reference staff can help you find records that are relevant to you research interests and refer you to other resources within the United Nations system. They can also help you make an appointment in the Research Room, advise on how to cite UN archives, and get reproductions. In short, they will provide as much information as they can about sources relevant to your topic, but due to the number of requests they cannot undertake extensive research on your behalf.
ARMS receives enquiries by e-mail. If you do not receive an answer within five business days please resend your email as they may not have received it.
For researchers who cannot come to New York in person, ARMS offers limited digitization, depending on available resources. Typically, this is 3-5 folders or 5 photos.
ARMS does not provide copying services using its copy machine or scanner - please bring a digital camera to document the files you wish to consult.
You are welcome to take notes and/or photographs of any materials while you are in the Research Room.
ARMS is constantly digitizing archival material, based on historical importance and preservation concerns. All declassified, digitized material can be found through the Search Engine.
If you need a high-resolution scan of the image or document you wish to use, contact the reference archivist to discuss options.
ARMS can provide a small number of scans upon request, or can arrange with you to reserve a desk in the Research Room so that you can make the reproductions yourself. ARMS does not have the resources for large digitization projects that are not already in the departmental work plan, but ARMS is open to discussing partnerships for the planning and funding for these types of initiatives.
When ARMS digitizes documents, they are typically scanned at a resolution of 300 ppi and 1-bit depth colour mode and saved as a text-searchable PDF file. Photographs are typically scanned at a resolution of 300 to 600 ppi and a bit-depth of 8-bit for greyscale images and 24-bit for colour images and saved as either JPEG or TIFF.