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The Archives Collection

© UNHCR / T. Hartwell /

The Archives are organized into "Fonds," which are groups of records from a single office or the donation from an individual of records from outside UNHCR. The list of UNHCR fonds is constantly expanding, as records are received from field offices and Headquarters divisions. In addition to the records of the organization, UNHCR Archives contains several pre-UNHCR fonds which provide valuable background into the development of protection work prior to 1951.

The single most important source for UNHCR activities during the first 20 years of the organization is the UNHCR Central Registry Subject Files. Thanks in part to a generous Ford Foundation grant, finding aids to the file level are available for the Classified Subject Files of the Central Registry for 1951-1970 (Fonds 11/1). This extensive collection includes incoming and outgoing correspondence regarding relations with voluntary agencies, non-governmental organizations and governments as well as material related to the implementation of the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol on refugees. This collection provides key primary source material on the UNHCR response to humanitarian crises, largely in Europe, in the 1950's and in Africa following decolonization in the 1960's.