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In 2005 the Friends of the Humanist Library of Sélestat proposed the preparation and financing of a dossier on the personal library of the Humanist Beatus Rhenanus in order to have it listed in the UNESCO "Memory of the World" Register. The City of Sélestat, owner of the collection, agreed to the initiative.
Preparation of the dossier was entrusted by the President, Raymond Muller, to Mrs. Emmanuelle JEANNIN who has a degree in Art History.  Assisted in her research and advised by the Head Curator of the Humanist Library, Hubert Meyer and by James HIRSTEIN, lecturer in Latin at the University of Strasbourg, the historian did an excellent job in completing her mission for which we give her our heartfelt thanks!
In 2008, in partnership with the city, this dossier was sent to the French Committee for the UNESCO Memory of the World Program. In the beginning of 2010, the committee chose the Sélestat dossier as the only French proposal, out of all other French proposals.   There is now a good possibility that the Library of Beatus Rhenanus could obtain the UNESCO designation. The next step is in the hands of the International Advisory Committee which will need to come to a conclusion concerning the proposals from the various world entities (North America/Europe in this case).  The winners will be announced during the second half of 2011.
If the Humanist Library ends up being chosen by the renowned UN organization, it will be great news for Sélestat since this designation would give this intellectual Alsace location a completely new reputation. Research and tourist traffic will most probably increase. Alsace, France and Europe could show their pride in the universal recognition of this unique heritage.

What is the "Memory of the World" program?

Recognizing that urgent action is needed to fight against the disappearance of large parts of documentary memory throughout the world, UNESCO launched the "Memory of the World" program in 1992 to protect and promote this heritage "in order to guard against collective amnesia and to promote the preservation of valuable archive holdings and library collections all over the world, ensuring their wide dissemination".
The prevailing idea, when the program was implemented, is the solemn affirmation that the documentary heritage of the world belongs to everyone and its preservation and accessibility must be supported. Initially it is important to identify the documentary elements that are of universal interest, to increase the awareness of the importance of this heritage and then to facilitate their preservation and access to them to benefit current and future generations.  UNESCO used various methods in order to achieve this; they range from assistance and advice concerning preservation, to encouraging digitalization and publication.

Four objectives have been defined:

  • To ensure the preservation of that part of the documentary inheritance that is of universal interest and to promote the part that is of national and regional interest
  • To make them accessible to more people through the use of suitable technology
  • To make the UNESCO member states aware of their own documentary heritage and, in particular, of its aspects, with greater interest in terms of collective world memory
  • To develop other products based on this documentary heritage and distribute them on an international scale, while at the same time making sure that the originals benefit from the best possible conservation and security conditions

List of documents that France has gained in the 
"Memory of the World" Register

    In 2003

  • Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789-1791)
  • Excerpt from the minutes of the National Assembly (1789)

In 2005

  • Lumière Films
  • The Appeal of 18 June 1940
  • Introduction of the decimal metric system (1790-1837)

In 2007

  • Bayeux Tapestry

In 2009

Library of the Cistercian Abbey of Clairvaux at the time of Pierre Virey (1472)


On May 26, 2011, the Beatus Rhenanus collection, held at the Humanist Library of Sélestat, was officially entered into the UNESCO "Memory of the World" Register.

More than five years after deciding to enter the competition, the Friends of the Humanist Library were rewarded for their patience and tenacity.
The prestigious label means global recognition for the library of the most famous Alsatian Humanist. It also means a new state of affairs for the City of Sélestat, the owner of the collection.
We have no doubts that it will be anxious to make the most out of such a high level distinction.



Austria :
Mainz Psalter at the Austrian National Library; Arnold Schönberg Estate

Barbados, Jamaica, Panama, St. Lucia, United Kingdom and United States:
Silver Men: West Indian Labourers at the Panama Canal

Bolivia :
Documentary fonds of the Royal Audencia Court of La Plata (RALP)

Brazil :
Network of information and counter information on the military regime in Brazil (1964-1985)

Bulgaria :
Enina Apostolos, Old Bulgarian Cyrillic manuscript (fragment) from the 11th century

China :
Ben Cao Gang Mu (Compendium of Materia Medica); Huang Di Nei Jing (Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon)

Czech Republic :
Collection of 526 prints of university theses from 1637-1754

Denmark :
MS. GKS 4 2°, vol. I-III, Biblia Latina. (The Hamburg Bible or The Bible of Bertoldus)

Fiji, Guyana, Surinam, Trinidad and Tobago :
Records of the Indian Indentured Labourers

France :
Beatus Rhenanus Library

Germany :
Construction and fall of the Berlin wall - 1990 "Two plus four" Treaty; 1886 Carl Benz Patent

India :
Laghukālacakratantrarājatikā (Vimalaprabhā); Tarikh-E-Khandan-E-Timuriyah Manuscript

Indonesia and the Netherlands :
La Galigo (Epic poem)

Iran :
Collection of Nezami’s Panj Ganj; Al-Tafhim li Awa'il Sana'at al-Tanjim (Book on astrology)

Ireland :
The Book of Kells (The Great Evangeliarium of Saint Colomba)

Italy :
Lucca’s Historical Diocesan Archives

Japan :
Sakubei Yamamoto Collection

Morocco :
Kitab al-ibar, wa diwan al-mobtadae wa al-khabar (historical treaty manuscript)

Mexico :
Sixteenth to eighteenth century pictographs from the “Maps, drawings and illustrations” of the National Archives of Mexico

Mongolia :
Lu.“Altan Tobchi” : Golden History written in 1651; Tanjur (collection of books on Tibetan Buddhism)

Norway :
Thor Heyerdahl Archives

The Netherlands :
Desmet Collection

The Netherlands, Brazil, Ghana, Guyana, Netherlands Antilles, Surinam, United Kingdom and United States :
Dutch West India Company (Westindische Compagnie) Archives

The Netherlands, Curaçao and Surinam :
Archive Middelburgsche Commercie Compagnie (MCC)

Philippines :
Presidential Papers of Manuel L. Quezon

Poland :
Archive of Warsaw Reconstruction Office

Republic of Korea :
Human Rights Documentary Heritage 1980 Archives for the May 18th Democratic Uprising against Military Regime, in Gwangju, Republic of Korea; Ilseongnok: Records of Daily Reflections (daily journal kept by the kings of the Joseon dynasty)

Russian Federation :
Ostromir Gospel (1056–1057); Tolstoy’s Personal Library and Manuscripts, Photo and Film Collection

Saint Kitts and Nevis :
Registry of Slaves of Bermuda 1821 - 1834 (addendum to the “Registry of Slaves of the British Caribbean 1817 - 1834", entered in 2009)

Sweden :
Stockholm City Planning Committee Archives; Codex Argenteus – the ‘Silver Bible’ (Evangeliarium from the Sixth century)

Switzerland :
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Geneva and Neuchâtel Collections

Thailand :
Epigraphic Archives of Wat Pho

Trinidad and Tobago :
Constantine Collection

Privateering and the international relations of the Regency of Tunis in the 18th and 19th centuries

United Kingdom :
Historic Ethnographic Recordings (1898 – 1951) at the British Library

Vietnam :
Stone Stele Records of Royal Examinations of the Le and Mac Dynasties (1442-1779)