The RNLI’s earliest documentary heritage (from 1823-1854) will become one of just 50 UNESCO archives to be listed in the UK in the past 22 years as part of the Memory of the World Programme.
UNESCO established the Memory of the World (MoW) Programme in 1992. The programme vision is that the world's documentary heritage belongs to all, should be fully preserved and protected for all and, with due recognition of cultural mores and practicalities, should be permanently accessible to all without hindrance.
The nine new inscriptions will join the 41 already listed on the UK register (one of several country-level programmes from around the world). Awarding this globally-recognised status helps to raise awareness of some of the UK’s exceptional documentary riches; including the RNLI archive which captures the heritage of the charity that has been saving lives at sea for nearly 200 years.
At the awards ceremony last week, Julie James, RNLI Heritage Manager and Hayley Whiting, RNLI Heritage Archive and Research Manager, took receipt of the special award on behalf of the wider Institution.
Julie said: ‘It was a fantastic evening and we’re delighted the RNLI’s rich archive is to be included in the UNESCO Memory of the World Programme. This award recognises the crucial and unique part the RNLI has played in the nation’s wider seafaring history.
The archive describes the foundation of what was then called the Royal National Institution for the Preservation of Life from Shipwreck; the volunteer led organisation that became the RNLI charity we know today. We’re delighted UNESCO has recognised the archive of the first national lifeboat institution in the world.’
Archive collections are filled with stories about people, places and events - they are the documented memory of humankind. Nominations for the register are considered against a range of criteria, including authenticity, rarity, integrity, threat and social, spiritual or community significance. The RNLI, which celebrates its 190th birthday this year, was originally founded by Sir William Hillary in a pub in London in February 1824 and has retained a volunteer led ethos ever since.
The charity’s archive joins other prestigious nominations such as 130 Roman curse tablets from Bath, the first ever TV-style interviews in 1916 from the Hepworth Cinema Collection and the Royal Mail Archive.
Notes to Editors
Please credit UNESCO/Lesley Ann Ercolano. L-R Julie James, RNLI Heritage Manager and Hayley Whiting, RNLI Heritage Archive and Research Manager
About the UNESCO Memory of the World Programme:
• United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is the ‘intellectual’ agency of the United Nations and was established in 1945.
• The UNESCO Memory of the World Programme aims to facilitate preservation of the world's documentary heritage, to assist universal access and to increase awareness worldwide of the existence and significance of this documentary heritage through both an international Register and individual country Registers. This globally-recognised status celebrates some of the UK’s most exceptional archive riches.
• To learn more about the MoW programme visit http://www.unesco.org/new/en/communication-and-information/flagship-project-activities/memory-of-the-world/homepage/
RNLI media contact
Elizabeth Ablett, RNLI Press Officer on Elizabeth_ablett@rnli.org.uk or 01202 336 789 / 01202 336 194