Online exhibit explores birth and early years of United Nations

Seventy-five years ago, on 26 June 1945, representatives of 50 nations signed the Charter of the United Nations in San Francisco. Seven years later, in 1952, the construction of the permanent headquarters in New York City was completed, and UN staff fully occupied the premises.

Although most of us are not physically in the office today, the Archives and Records Management Section (ARMS) launched a digital exhibit, Mapping the Early History of the United Nations, to mark the anniversary of the Charter signing.

It pegs the major milestones in the formation of the Organization to where it met, resided, and worked prior to the completion of the permanent headquarters.

A successor of the League of Nations, the term “United Nations” was first used in the context of the 26 allied nations who joined together during the Second World War to fight against the Axis powers and signed the Declaration of the United Nations on 1 January 1942.

By 1945, a total of 47 countries had signed the Declaration, becoming the core group that met in San Francisco.

Following the creation of the Charter, the Preparatory Commission of the United Nations met in London to discuss the details of the new organization but disbanded when the first Secretary-General was appointed.

After the first General Assembly in London, the United Nations moved to the Hunter College branch of City University of New York, in the Bronx, where the first sessions of the Security Council in the United States took place.

While the UNHQ was under construction, the UN’s temporary headquarters was in Lake Success, Long Island (approximately 40km east from its current location). General Assemblies held between 1946-1952 took place either partially or wholly in Queens, inside the former NYC Pavilion from the 1939 World’s Fair, in Flushing Meadows Park, or in Paris.

Some of the records illustrating the early history of the United Nations are located in the repository of the ARMS and can be examined via links found in the exhibition.



Originally published in UN Intranet (iSeek) 
26 June 2020