In March 1949, by direction of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Archives Section of the Division of Communications and Records was designated as the agent responsible for the custody of items “of historic significance” accepted by the United Nations or originating in connection with its work. (SGB 63/Rev.1/Add.1 dated 15 March 1949.) This directive provided for appropriate display of these items in collaboration with the Office of Public Information and the Office of Conference Services, under the guidance of an Interdepartmental Committee on Exhibitions.
Over the years, this Record Group was gradually extended to include, in addition to items of historic interest, “gifts and memorabilia” and “commendations and pledges” including many from the general public. In the absence of a well-defined policy on the type of gift item considered suitable for retention in this record group, accumulations had reached a critical stage by 1966. A Review Committee was formed, composed of members from the Offices of the Secretary-General, Controller, Legal and General Services whose function was to make recommendations for the disposal of items which had neither historic interest, relevance to the United Nations or artistic appeal. (File AD 523 P&P (Memorandum dated 21 February 1966 from Mr. VAUGHAN to Secretary-General.)) The Committee functioned for a brief period taking action on the disposition of a number of items, but has not convened since 1966.
In February 1971, a new policy and procedure was established superseding the directive of 1949. (ST/SGB/136 dated 1 February 1971.) The new procedure divides the items into three categories:
1) Items of historical significance originating from the work of the United Nations or accepted on behalf of the United Nations such as gavel and pen set used at the San Francisco Conference in 1945, originating flag designs and commemorative scrolls,
2) Gifts received by the United Nations or by the Secretary-General in his official capacity, except donations or grants of funds,
3) Gifts or awards accepted by staff members in recognition of performance of achievement in work related to the United Nations, when such gifts or awards are required to be transferred to the custody of the United Nations.
Responsibility for the disposition, preservation and use or display of these items will henceforward be governed by the new directive as mentioned in SGB/136 dated 1 February 1971.