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Archival news

28 August 2009
The UNESCO International Advisory Committee at its meeting in late July 2009 added thirty-five new items of documentary heritage to the Memory of the World Register, among them, the Radziwills’ Archives and Nesvizh Library Collection, submitted by the Republic of Belarus in cooperation with Lithuania, Poland, Russian Federation, Ukraine and Finland. The decision was announced on 31 July.
The successful inclusion of the nomination on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register has become an important achievement of the Archival Service of the Republic of Belarus, which completed major work in the project. The nomination dossier, describing the ten surviving parts of the Nesvizh collection and showing their cultural and historical significance, was prepared in late 2007 by the Belarusian Research Centre for Electronic Records with the financial support from the UNESCO Moscow Office and with the participation of specialists from the member countries. To show the contents and the significance of the Nesvizh collection, the Belarusian Research Centre for Electronic Records also prepared a compact disc with the illustrating materials, including the digital copies of the most representative archival documents, early illuminated books and ex-librise bookplates of the Nesvizh library, as well as samples of archival signatures and archivist's handwriting. The digital copies were made by the archives and libraries participating in the project. Part of these can be found on the UNESCO official website, together with the nomination text:

The Nesvizh collection is one of the largest collections of documents on the history of Central and Eastern Europe. The collection was created from the 15th to 18th centuries by members of the Radziwill family, one of the most prominent aristocratic families in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The holdings, preserved during the course of history in different Radzwills’ estates, included archive and library in which invaluable historical and cultural information was accumulated. The extent of the collection, its continuous expansion through new acquisitions and comparatively high level of preservation make it a unique archival complex of world value. This collection is now dispersed among archives and libraries in Belarus, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, and to a lesser extent in other European countries.

Belarus now holds a considerable part of the collection. First of all, these are over 20,000 documents from the "Radziwill Princes" Holding at the National Historical Archives of Belarus. Several thousand books from the Nesvizh library, newly reconstructed by its owners in the 19th century, are at the National Library of Belarus, the Central Academic Library of the Belarusian Academy of Sciences and the Presidential Library.

The UNESCO listing and international recognition of the universal significance of the Nesvizh collection will serve, we hope, as a powerful impulse to scholarly and cultural cooperation in the region and will promote the integration of the peoples and their mutual enrichment.

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