05.08.2010 -

UK Memory of the World Register launched

Ten outstanding items and collections have been selected to launch the United Kingdom Memory of the World Register, an online catalogue created to promote the country documentary heritage across the world. The ten winning items and collections span nearly 1000 years of history and embody the pivotal moments and periods that have shaped the UK.

These first-ever inscriptions were recognised at the House of Lords on 14 July at a special event hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Archives and the Archives and Records Association of the UK and Ireland. The inscribed collections were chosen by the UK Memory of the World Committee following a nomination and review process which began in 2009.


"We were incredibly impressed by the diversity and richness of the first nominations to the register," said David Dawson, Chair of the UK Memory of the World Committee. "Given the UK rich documentary history, I'm sure these winners are just the beginning. We hope this will encourage more people to get involved with their local archives and museums."


The 10 items and collections inscribed to the UK Memory of the World Register are:

<li>Charter of King William I to the City of London (City of London Corporation)

This Charter appears to be the earliest royal or imperial document which guarantees the collective rights of the inhabitants of any town. The letter is written in Old English and expresses the circumstances of London in the Norman Conquest of England during 1066.


<li>The Peterloo Relief Fund Account Book (University of Manchester) provides vivid, first-hand documentary evidence of one of the most significant events in British history, the Peterloo Massacre of 1819. It records payments made to those who were wounded in the Massacre, and to the dependants of those killed.


<li>WVS/WRVS Narrative Reports 1939-1996 (WRVS)

The Women's Voluntary Service (WVS) for Air Raid Precautions was established by Lady Reading in May 1938. By 1943 WVS had just over one million members, making it one of the largest volunteering organizations in British history. Following the World War II, WVS transformed itself into one of the leading providers of social care; its activities over the following fifty years were inextricably linked to the growth of the welfare state.


<li>Letter from George Stephenson (Liverpool Record Office) is a unique holograph letter written by George Stevenson to his son Robert. It was sent during the period of construction of the world's first passenger railway between Liverpool and Manchester (1827) It is believed that no other letter written in Stephenson's own hand, discussing both the building of the railway and family matters, survives.


<li>Peniarth Manuscript Collection (National Library of Wales) is the most important collection of manuscripts ever assembled in Wales. It consists of 561 works in Welsh, English, Latin, French and Cornish, dating from the 12th to the 19th century.


<li>Company of Scotland Trading to Africa & the Indies, 1695-1707 (National Library of Scotland, the Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc) represents letters and documents that chart the history of the Company of Scotland's plan to establish a trading colony on the Isthmus of Darien in Central America in the 1690s, a bold attempt at establishing a Scottish empire. Despite the financial strength of the venture, it turned to failure and can be viewed as a component in Scotland's move toward the 1707 Union with England.


<li>The Life Story of David Lloyd George (National Screen & Sound Archive, National Library of Wales) is referred to by many film historians as "the find of the century". This 1918 biopic is a unique item in the history of not just British but world cinema. Thought to be the first feature length biopic of a contemporary living politician, strangely, this film was never released.


<li>The Chepman and Myllar Prints (National Library of Scotland) is a volume containing eleven pieces of printing that include the earliest surviving dated book printed in Scotland. This collection includes the drawings of pioneer cartographer Timothy Pont and works from Scotland's first printers, Walter Chepman and Andrew Myllar.


<li>The Pont Manuscript Maps (National Library of Scotland) is the earliest surviving topographic and chorographic survey of Scotland, dating to between 1583 and 1614. Collectively they provide a key insight into early modern Scotland. The Pont manuscript maps form the substantive background content to the first Atlas of Scotland, published in 1654.


<li>St Kilda, Britain's Loneliest Isle (National Library of Scotland) offers an insight into one of Scotland's most remote communities in the years immediately preceding its demise. The 17-minute film captures scenes of a community that was soon to disappear. The tiny Gaelic-speaking population was forced to migrate in August 1930, bringing an end to 2,000 years of human habitation on the island.

For further information on each item, including pictures, please visit <a target=_blank href="http://www.unesco.org.uk/ukregister">www.unesco.org.uk/ukregister</a>.


The UK Memory of the World Register is part of the UK National Commission for UNESCO's work to promote preservation of and access to the world's archive holdings and library collections.

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