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United Nations Research Guide: Records & Documents

Key Resources

Official Records and Masthead Documents

Two of the primary forms of United Nations information sources are the Official Records and the Masthead documents. These are described on this page.

Official Records

The Official Records of the United Nations contain a wide range of documents, including final versions of meeting records, resolutions, decisions, agendas, and key documents presented to meeting participants. They also include—in the case of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council—regular reports on the activities of subsidiary organs or agencies whose activities they are responsible for coordinating. They are a tremendous source of information. They are indexed in depth in the various Indexes to the Proceedings... , but references are also found in UNBISnet and its predecessors, as well as in AccessUN . Citations to the Official Records bear distinctive symbol numbers. Titles are found in the Government Information Collection of the Main Library (5th floor), with many added to the UN's Official Documents System (ODS).

  • GAOR refers to the Official Records of the General Assembly.
    JX1977 .A44
  • ESCOR refers to the Official Records of the Economic and Social Council.
    HC59 .A193
  • SCOR refers to the Official Records of the Security Council.
    JX1977 .A515
  • TCOR refers to the Official Records of the Trusteeship Council.
    JX4021 .U385
  • TDBOR refers to the Official Records of the UNCTAD Trade and Development Board.
    HF91 .U48

Two useful UN publications provide a guide to organization of the Official Records:

  1. United Nations Official Records, 1948–1962.
    Z6485 .U448
  2. United Nations Official Records, 1962–1981.
    Z6485 .U448 1982

Masthead Documents

Known as "mimeograph documents" after their original form of publication, these documents are by far the largest category of United Nations publication. They include materials designed to serve as a basis for discussion at UN meetings and include: reports, memoranda, studies, working papers, agendas, draft and final resolutions, decisions, meeting records, etc. Many masthead documents are reprinted in a variety of other sources such as the Official Records, Yearbook of the United Nations, and the Annual Review of United Nations Affairs. Most masthead documents are shelved by UN document number in the 5th floor Government Information Collection. Many of these are now incorporated in to UN's Official Documentation System (ODS).

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Brett Cloyd
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