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Archive of the United Nations Career Records Project


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The international civil service has undergone a marked expansion since 1945 but remarkably little research has been carried out on the perceptions and composition of United Nations personnel. A number of projects have targeted senior members of UN Agencies (for example studies completed by the Agencies themselves) or personnel involved in specific incidents, such as the interviews carried out by the Institution for Social and Policy Studies at Yale, but until now no effort has been made to record the experiences and opinions of former United Nations officials from throughout the Organization's structure.

Based at St. Antony's College, Oxford, under the Honorary Directorship of Richard Symonds, a retired UN official, the first stage of the United Nations Career Records Project (UNCRP) ran for three years from September 1989. The chief objective was to secure the recollections and memoirs of UK nationals, whether living in Britain or abroad, or of other nationals living in Britain, who were employed by the UN and its Specialized Agencies. Material was also sought from UK nationals who served as Permanent Representatives to the UN, or Government Representatives at conferences or on governing bodies of UN Agencies, as well as from UK nationals who worked with Non-Governmental Organizations accredited to UN Agencies. Although the project is thus primarily concerned with the influence of Britain on the UN (more experts were recruited by UN Agencies in the 1950s and 1960s from Britain than from any other country) there are, exceptionally, materials from nationals of other countries not living in Britain. (A fuller account of this phase of the project is provided in 'The United Nations Career Records Project, Final Report on First Stage 1989-92' by Richard Symonds.)

The contributions take two forms. Respondents were asked to complete a questionnaire by supplying biographical information and details of the length and nature of UN service. In addition to this, they were invited to contribute recollections in whatever form they desired, together with such contemporary papers as they considered appropriate.

The papers are divided into eight sections and each section is arranged alphabetically by respondents' surnames. Each respondent's papers are arranged chronologically by the date upon which the papers were received by the Project team. In the catalogue description which follows the contents of each box of a respondent's papers are listed by the date of the service to which they refer, so the folio numbers do not necessarily run in sequence in the text.

The first section contains the larger acquisitions. These include the papers of Viola Fearne concerning occupational therapy with the World Health Organization in Asia, 1971-3; Sir Robert Jackson relating to his time in the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA), 1945-7 and as Assistant Secretary-General for Co-ordination, UN 1948, as well as his work with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), 1967-71, and the relief operations he organised in the 1970s; Michael Kaser concerning his work with the Economic Commission fof Europe (ECE) relating to Soviet Economics, 1951-63, and D. Burnell Vickers UN Legal Counsel, 1960-3, 1966-80, relating to a variety of matters including refugees, relations between UN Agencies and South Africa and Rhodesia and international slavery.

The second section is concerned with smaller contributions, the largest being that received from Klaus Samson, mainly comprising correspondence concerning his International Labour Organization (ILO) work, 1977-87.

Section Three consists of questionnaires from those sending no contribution other than their completed questionnaire.

Material received from UK Government Representatives forms Section Four. First among these are the papers of William Dodd, relating to his work as UK Representative on the Executive Board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), 1983-5, incorporating an extensive set of press cuttings concerning the UK withdrawal from United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), 1983-90. Also included in this section are contributions from Sir Claus Moser, UK Representative to the UN Statistics Commission, 1960s-1970s, Sir Anthony Parsons, Permanent UK Representative to the UN, 1979-82, and Sir Crispin Tickell, Permanent UK Representative to the UN, 1987-90.

The fifth section comprises the papers of military officers serving with the United Nations Peace Keeping Force in Cyprus, including Field Marshall Lord Carver, United Nations Peace Keeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) 1964 and Brigadier Michael Harbottle, UNFICYP 1966-8.

Section Six is made up of contributions from Non-Governmental Organization members, including Colonel J. R. Patrick Montgomery of the Anti-Slavery Society, 1963-80, and obituaries of UN officials including Lord Caradon, Permanent UK Representative to the UN, 1964-70.

Interviews with some twenty individuals concerning their UN careers were recorded between 1990 and 1993 by Ron Neath, a retired UN official, and the resulting cassettes constitute the bulk of Section Seven, which includes interviews with Dame Iris Murdoch, United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) 1945-6 and Sir Robert Rhodes James, UN 1972-6. This section also contains a number of recorded contributions which describe the work of UN Agencies, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

The final section contains contributions received after the start of cataloguing in the second stage. These include the contributions of Patrick Guilbride, FAO 1963-82 and Charles Harris, UN Consultant in Local Government 1965, 1968, 1971-2.

The first stage of the United Nations Career Records Project was funded by grants from the Ford Foundation, New York, and the Rhodes Trust, Oxford; the second by the Ford Foundation.


  • 1989-1992


10.56 Linear metres (96 physical shelfmarks)

Language of Materials

  • English

Conditions Governing Access

Certain material is at present closed to readers. These include contributions from John Alves, Celia Berry, Oliver Knowles, Anthony Zagni and Douglas Williams, together with several of Col. Patrick Montgomery's papers. Most will be available by the year 2005.

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by the shelfmark and item number, e.g. MS. Eng. c. 4655, fols. 1-2].
Please see our help page for further guidance on citing archives and manuscripts.

Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. Eng. c. 4655-4748, c. 4797, c. 5229

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 15335


Recollections and memoirs of UK nationals in Britain or abroad, and of other nationals living in Britain, who were employed by the UN and its Specialized Agencies.

Biographical / Historical

The United Nations Career Records Project (UNCRP) was established in 1989 as part of a joint project in collaboration with the Bodleian Library and the British Association of Former United Nations Civil Servants (BAFUNCS)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The material was collected via the United Nations Career Records Project, 1989-1992.
Catalogue of the Archive of the United Nations Career Records Project
Martin Jennings, edited and revised by M. Webb
1995, November 2000
Language of description
Script of description
Conversion to EAD supported by the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom