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UNESCO’s Memory of the World Programme


Documentary heritage that represents the collective memory of humanity has been honoured since 1992 by UNESCO in its Memory of the World Programme. There are 15 Austrian nominations among the currently 427 entries in the world register. Eight of these come from the holdings of the Austrian National Library. This means that we look after the country’s largest holding of Memory of the World documents. All of the documents included are unique specimens of incalculable value. Furthermore, the Austrian UNESCO Commission has also been keeping a national list entitled “Memory of Austria” since 2014.

Memory of the World: world register

The following documents or collections of the Austrian National Library have been included in the UNESCO world register “Memory of the World” since 1997:

Philosophical Nachlass of Ludwig Wittgenstein

included in 2017

Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951) was one of the leading philosophers of the 20th century. The Austrian National Library holds a considerable number of his bequeathed manuscripts, including the original of the Philosophical Investigations (MS 142) and two original typed manuscripts of his famous Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. The majority of his legacy, in terms of quantity, is now in the library of Trinity College, Cambridge, and smaller numbers of items are at three other institutions.

Golden Bull

included in 2013

One of the most important legal documents of the Holy Roman Empire of German Nation in a glorious transcription from ca. 1400. Together with the magnificent copy of King Wenzel in the Austrian National Library, all seven originals, two of which in the Austrian State Archive, five in German archives, were featured.

Mainz Psalter

included in 2011
Rarer than the Gutenberg bible: the first multicoloured book in the world to be published from 1457. This edition also includes the first imprint in book printing history.

Tabula Peutingeriana

included in 2007
Street map on parchment: This is the only copy of an ancient map depicting the road network of the Roman Empire dating back to the 12th century.

Bibliotheca Corviniana

included in 2005
One of the most important libraries of the Renaissance: the book collection of the Hungarian king, Matthias Corvinus (1443-1490), 39 volumes of which are in the possession of the Austrian National Library. (Joint submission with Belgium, Germany, France, Italy and Hungary.)

Atlas Blaeu-Van der Hem

included in 2003
The most magnificent atlas ever made: 50 volumes with 2,400 coloured maps, city maps, location and landscape surveys, portraits, genre drawings, battle scenes, costumes images and plans of buildings, festivities and triumphal processions from the 17th century.

Papyri Archduke Rainer

included in 2001
3,000 years of Egyptian history: the collection of 180,000 papyri traceable back to Archduke Rainer is one of the largest of its kind in the world.

Vienna Dioscurides

included in 1997
Pharmacological knowledge from ancient times: the richly illustrated book of medicinal herbs was a gift to a Byzantine princess at the beginning of the 6th century.

Memory of Austria

In 2014, the Austrian UNESCO Commission presented to the public a national list for Austria’s document heritage (» Memory of Austria) by way of addition to the world register. The Austrian register, which will be added to in the coming years, currently lists, by way of example, 59 documents and collections of particular importance to the history and culture of Austria. The following 16 submissions of the Austrian National Library are also included here:

Collection of Ambraser manuscripts

Year of inclusion: 2018
Austrian National Library/Department of Manuscripts and Rare Books

Letters from Hannah Arendt to Günther Anders (1939-1970)

Year of inclusion: 2016
Austrian National Library/the Literary Archive

Erich Lessing: International Reporting Photography 1945-1970

Year of inclusion: 2016
Austrian National Library/Picture Archives and Graphics Department

First and early printed book collection of Anthony van Hoboken

Year of inclusion: 2016
Austrian National Library/Department of Music

Joseph Daniel von Huber – bird’s eye view of Prague (1769)

Year of inclusion: 2016
Austrian National Library/Map Department

Literary estate of Ingeborg Bachmann

Year of inclusion: 2016
Austrian National Library/the Literary Archive

Collection of leaflets and flyers on the 1848 revolution during the Habsburg monarchy

Year of inclusion: 2016
Austrian National Library/Department of Manuscripts and Rare Books » To the archive

United States Information Service (USIS) – image archive

Year of inclusion: 2016
Austrian National Library/Picture Archives and Graphics Department

Wolfgang Lazius: Typi chorographici

Year of inclusion: 2016
Austrian National Library/Map Department

Anton Bruckner collection

Year of inclusion: 2014
Austrian National Library/Department of Music

Estate of Robert Musil

Year of inclusion: 2014
Austrian National Library/Department of Manuscripts and Rare Books

Portrait collection of the Austrian National Library

Year of inclusion: 2014
Austrian National Library/Picture Archives and Graphics Department

Bibliotheca Eugeniana

Year of inclusion: 2014
Austrian National Library/Department of Manuscripts and Rare Books

Jakob von Alt: 55 perspectives of the Danube from Engelhartszell to Vienna

Year of inclusion: 2014
Austrian National Library/Map Department

Nominations with other institutions

The collection of medieval manuscripts of the former Benedictine monastery in Mondsee, Upper Austria.

Year of inclusion: 2016
Institutions: Austrian National Library/Department of Manuscripts and Rare Books & Austrian State Archive.

Audio recordings of RAVAG folk song singing from the Kotek collection

Year of inclusion: 2014
Institutions: Austrian National Library / Archive of Folk Song & Phonogram Archive of the Austrian Academy of Sciences

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