Friday, June 15, 2007

Memory of the World

The vision of the Memory of the World Programme 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 8th Meeting of the Memory of the World International Advisory Committee (IAC) has been held in Pretoria, South Africa from 11-15 June 2007. It has been reviewing review 50 new requests for inclusion in the Memory of the World Register, submitted by 38 countries.

The United States has only one entry in the register now:

Universalis cosmographia secundum Ptholomaei traditionem et Americi Vespucii aliorumque Lustrationes (2005)* (The 1507 printed world map, prepared by the Gymnasium Vosagense, St. Dié, France under the direction of Martin Waldseemüller, is the first map on which the name America appears. The Library of Congress possesses the only known surviving copy of this map.)

The last date for submission of new nomination proposals for inscription on the Memory of the World Register will be March 31, 2007. New proposals submitted by that date will be examined during the 2008/2009 session. Click here for more information on nominations.

Editorial Comment: I believe that the United States should pledge to the world to keep safe those documents created here that are part of the world heritage. I think some suitable candidates might be:

Political documents:
  • The Declaration of Independence, which has served as a model for so many other nations since it was signed.
  • The U.S. Constitution, which is the oldest written national constitution of a major nation (only San Marino may be considered to have an earlier written constitution).
  • Edward S. Curtis's The North American Indian: Photographic Images at the Library of Congress;
Technology: A great gift of the United States to the world has been American technology, and it could be commemorated through the papers of our most distinguished inventors:
  • Alexander Graham Bell Family Papers at the Library of Congress
  • Thomas A. Edison Papers at Rutgers University
  • Samuel F. B. Morse Papers at the Library of Congress, 1793-1919
  • Eli Whitney Papers at Yale University
  • The Wilbur and Orville Wright Papers at the Library of Congress
Incidentally, the Gayanashagowa or the Great Law of Peace of the Iroquois (or Haudenosaunee) Six Nations, the oral constitution that created the Iroquois Confederacy, might be considered as a nomination for the Masterpieces of Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The Gayanashagowa is said to have provided significant inspiration to Benjamin Franklin and James Madison in the writing of the United States Constitution, and thus to have inspired political thought in many nations.

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