ILO Archives

The Archives cover the entire administrative cycle of records and serve as a repository for Headquarters units and Field Offices. The Archives contain correspondence and administrative files transferred from the Registry and decentralized filing stations.

Files and records may be of interest to external researchers for their legal, political, administrative, technical and historical value. They are made available after thirty years according to the Rules for Access to the ILO Historical Archives.

The Historical Archives consist of about 70,000 pre-war and wartime files (1919−1947), 200,000 post-war files (1948−1978), together with a number of special collections.  These include the ILO Directors and Directors-General Archives: Albert Thomas (1920−1932), Harold Butler (1932−1938), John G. Winant (1939−1941), Edward Phelan (1941−1948), David A. Morse (1948−1970) and C. Wilfred Jenks (1970−1973).  Also archived are C. Wilfred Jenks’ private papers (1920−1973), the records of the International Labour Office (Basel, 1890−1919) and photographic and audiovisual collections. These collections represent a total of more than 7,000 linear meters of occupied shelving.

Filing system

The ILO archives and record management systems are based on the concept of a central registry. Each major activity of the International Labour Office forms the subject of a file series, identified mnemonically (e.g. F = Financial Questions; RL = Relations; TUR = Trade Union Rights; PROG = Programme Planning). Each main subject is then divided into further subdivisions (e.g. the country concerned) according to the amount of information available. There are also separate series for the ILO policy bodies (GB = Governing Body; ILC = International Labour Conference).