Skip to main content

United Nations Research Guide: Historic Print

Guide to information created by the UN and the UN Family of Organizations. Grateful acknowledgement to Jim Church, University of California Berkeley Libraries, whose work is the basis for this guide.


Most current UN documents and publications are online, but the historic content has not all been digitized.  To find older UN publications (books or serialssearch NUSearch by the publication title or by the UN agency as author.  The only comprehensive digital index to UN documents is Access UN which indexes most UN content back to 1945. It is not a full-text database so once you have a citation you may need to find the item in print.  

UN content is being digitized on the UN Official Documents database but much remains to be done.  Northwestern University Libraries have historic UN documents on microfiche 1946-2010, as well as significant material in print format.  Please contact Anne Zald, Documents Librarian for assistance with access to this material. 

Historical Indexes

The following indexes provide access to historical content of each of four principal organs that is not online. These are detailed indexes to the Official Records for each organ, including subject, speaker, and country/corporate name indexes.

Index to Proceedings of the Economic & Social Council (online edition 2009-present)
Index to Proceedings of the General Assembly  (online edition 2008-present)
Index to Proceedings of the Security Council   (online edition 2009-present)
Index to Proceedings of the Trusteeship Council  

UNDEX.  (1970-1978). This series of indexes served as the general index to UN publishing between the Documents Index and UNDOC. Issued in three series: a subject index, country index, and list of documents issued.  Series C Cumulative edition in print format.  HeinOnline also provides these indexes online (NU Affiliated users only): subject index online, country index online, list of documents issued online.

UNDOC: Current Index(1984-1990, 1994-1996). The most comprehensive official UN index for publications of the UN, including masthead documents, sales publications, and official records.

United Nations Documents Index. (1950-1973 and 1998-2007)  First general index to UN masthead documents, sales publications, and official records. 1950-1974 online via HeinOnline (NU Affiliated Users only)

Check List of United Nations Documents.   (1949-1953). The very earliest finding aid to UN documents. 

Documents of the United Nations Conference on International Organization. Text and index to complete proceedings of the Conference to establish the United Nations. Online edition via HeinOnline (NU Affiliated Users only)

Yearbook of the United Nations.  Serves as de facto index for most important UN content, although not comprehensive.  Important documents each year are cited, arranged topically.  The online version goes back to 1946 and can be searched.


Official Records

The Official Records of the United Nations contain a wide range of documents, including final versions of meeting records, resolutions, decisions, and key documents presented to meeting participants.

They also include regular reports on the activities of subsidiary organs or agencies whose activities they are responsible for coordinating. Historical Official Records are indexed  in the various Indexes to the Proceedings as well as AccessUN. 

The Official Records for each principal organ prior to the mid-1980s were bound and are not cataloged.  Additional unbound materials are available.  Contact Anne Zald, Govenrment Information Librarian for assistance with these materials.

Official Records of the General Assembly.
Official Records of the Security Council.
Official Records of the Economic &Social Council.
Official Records of the Trusteeship Council.

Once a reference to an Official Record citation is found, you may wish to consult the appropriate finding guide below to determine which volume in the sets above contains the document in question. The sets may also be browsed. 

United Nations Official Records, 1948-1962: A Reference Catalog. Main Library Government Info 016.34123 U585u
United Nations Official Records, 1962-1981. Main Library Government Info 016.34123 U585u 1962/81