Conducting Research

The United Nations Archives are open to everyone and we are here to support your research, whether in person or online. 

Please use our online Search Engine to familiarize yourself with the archives. Although a lot of material is available online, the majority has not been digitized. To use those archives, you can come to our Research Room which is open to the public during regular business hours.

 

United Nations Research Room

What you need to know

Location

We are 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.

Hours

We are open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. All archival documents must be returned to the research room staff by 4:30 p.m.

The research room is closed on United Nations Headquarters official holidays. Please check the schedule in advance of reserving a seat. 

We are often booked weeks in advance, so we advise you to plan your visit accordingly. During the months of April - August, we strongly encourage you to reserve a seat two months in advance. If you do not, we cannot guarantee that there will be a spot for you due to space limitations.

Accessibility

The United Nations Archives and Records Management Section has an accessible entrance, bathroom and we will make every effort to ensure people with physical disabilities can use our Research Room. Please let us know in advance if you have any questions or special needs so we can better assist you. 

What we Provide

  • Secure lockers, with locks, for your personal items, including bags, suitcases, beverages, and coats.
  • Power outlets (120v) on each desk
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • A digital camera, as needed 
  • Camera stands that will assist you with lighting and positioning documents for photographing

 

What to Bring

Allowed:

  • Pencils and paper/notepads
  • Laptops, tablets and cell phones
  • Digital cameras
  • Hand-held personal scanners (must be preapproved)

 

Prohibited:

  • Food and/or beverages of any type
  • Cell phone conversations, audible music, or other distracting noises
  • Large items such as suitcases
  • Flatbed scanners, or any type of scanner where the pages must be fed through

Making an Appointment

Please contact us via email to make an appointment in our Research Room or if you have any reference questions.

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 following resources can assist you:

When contacting us with questions please be specific about your topic and include as much relevant information as possible, such as names, dates, places, events, and keywords. Be sure to mention any resources that you have already consulted.

You must reserve a desk in our Research Room in advance, so contact us as soon as possible to make an appointment. This is especially during the months of April - September, when we may not be able to accommodate you on short notice.

Due to the limited number of desks, if you need to cancel or change your appointment, please give us as much notice as possible. If you do not show up to your research appointment without contacting us, your reservation will be given to any researchers on our waiting list.

When booking your appointment we will work with you to come up with a list of files that you would like to consult. Although we can usually accommodate last minute changes and provide access to archives you had not previously identified, it is not always possible.

Reference Advice

Our 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. We can also help you make an appointment in our Research Room, advise on how to cite UN archives, and get reproductions. In short, we will provide as much information as we can about sources relevant to your topic, but due to the number of requests we 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 we may not have received it.

Reproduction, Citation and Copyright

Reproduction

You are welcome to take notes and/or photographs of any of our materials while you are in our Research Room.

We are constantly digitizing archival material, based on historical importance and preservation concerns. All of our 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 our reference archivist to discuss options.

We 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. We do not have the resources for large digitization projects that are not already in our departmental work plan, but we are open to discussing partnerships for the planning and funding for these types of initiatives.

When we digitize 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.

 

Citation and copyrights

Unless otherwise noted, there is no restriction on the publication of documents, images and/or quotations from archival material held at the United Nations Archives. This includes publication of thesis, books, websites, films, etc.

Precise citations are extremely important. They give credit to the authors of the work you have consulted and provide a way for others to find the same sources that you have used. Incorrect or incomplete citations are seen by some institutions and publishers as plagiarism, so please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like assistance or advice on citing your work.

Researchers wishing to reproduce or publish material found in the UN Archives which is held under copyright by a third party are responsible for requesting permission directly from the copyright holder.

The style of citation depends on the preferences of your discipline, instructor, and/or publisher. Information that must be included in any citation of United Nations archival material is:

  1. Repository: United Nations Archives (can be further abbreviated to UNA after the first mention)
  2. Reference number: typically, this will look like "S-0123-0456-78"
  3. Title: can be the title of the document, the title of the folder, or the caption of the photo
  4. Date: the date (or date range) of the document or file
  5. Depending on the citation style of your field, you may need to include the title of the folder, series, and fonds

We do keep track of publications that use UN archival material and are happy to display a copy of your publication in our Research Room. Please contact us for the mailing address. 

 

Classified Records

Archives over 20 years old are generally open to the public for research, unless the classification level of "Strictly Confidential" (or related) applies. 

Access and Declassification Requests

If you are seeking access to, or the declassification of records less than 20 years old and/or classified as "Strictly Confidential", we can facilitate such requests to the originating office.

Requests for both access and declassification must be made in writing to the United Nations Archives at arms@un.org where we can provide more details on the process. Please note, however, that because it requires the review and consent of different United Nations offices, researchers should allow sufficient time for a decision to be reached

UNWCC Archives

All archives of the United Nations War Crimes Commission (UNWCC) are available on application to any person researching the history of the Commission or related topics in international law or associated fields. To apply please send an email to arms@un.org.

Alternatively, you can access these records at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Wiener Holocaust Library

For further information on declassification or access, please do not hesitate to contact the Archives