Explore the knowledge, resources and artifacts from UNICEF’s history.
For over 70 years, UNICEF has collected records, items and artifacts that document our story protecting the rights of children everywhere. Our archives capture UNICEF’s global field operations – from our founding in the aftermath of World War II through today – that help children survive, thrive and fulfil their potential.
On the ground in more than 190 countries and territories, UNICEF is proud to preserve for future generations our rich history of reaching children in the world’s toughest places.
From flagship publications to documents of historical interest, discover highlights from our archives.
Pictured above: Marlene Dietrich volunteers at the official opening of the 1961 UNICEF Greeting Cards Campaign at the UN General Assembly. Also seen is New York industrialist John J Myers making the first purchase.
The UNICEF Archives is closed to the general public due to ongoing enhancements to materials and facilities. For information or inquiries, please contact us at email@example.com.
Preserving our heritage
The UNICEF Archives preserves and provides public access to information and materials related to our work for children around the world. It further serves as a resource for those interested in researching the evolution of UNICEF and our collaboration with national and global partners in government, civil society and the private sector.
Where to find us
The UNICEF Archives is housed in 3,000 cubic feet of space in our New York Headquarters. Many other materials are also available at our field and country offices, which can be contacted locally for any archives-related inquiries.
Spotlight on the New York Archives
The New York Archives houses content of interest to researchers, students and the world at large. Browse a representative selection of archival materials available at the UNICEF New York Headquarters:
Stories: Biographies, correspondence and information on people who have helped steer UNICEF through history.
Executive Board documents: Documents from the Office of the Secretary of the Executive Board available in digital and original paper format (1946–1994).
Photography: A collection of historical photographs chronicling UNICEF’s work since inception.
UNICEF History Project: Interviews, audio-visual records and other materials documenting UNICEF’s journey from the 1940s to the 1990s.
Posters: A collection of posters made by UNICEF and various artists.
Publications: State of the World’s Children, UNICEF’s flagship report, along with other annual publications and printed materials. A selection of historical documents and publications are also available here.
The memorabilia and rarities showcased below represent a small sample of what is available at the official UNICEF Archives.
UNICEF's first greeting card
Dzitka Samkova, a seven-year old Czech girl, made a painting to thank UNICEF for having helped her village. One of her teachers sent the painting, showing children dancing around a maypole, to the UNICEF bureau in Prague. It then made its way to Vienna, from where UNICEF staffer Grace Holmes Barbey wrapped it up and took it back with her to New York.
Later that year, UNICEF produced a limited series of greeting cards for a modest fundraiser using Dzitka's art. This marked the beginning of a worldwide fundraising activity with cards printed in the hundreds of millions, an activity that eventually became synonymous with UNICEF.
The 1965 Nobel Peace Prize
Nineteen years after its founding, UNICEF was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on 26 October 1965 for "fulfilling the condition of Nobel's will, the promotion of brotherhood among the nations” and emerging on the world stage as a “a peace-factor of great importance.”
Pablo Picasso's design for UNICEF's greeting cards
World-famous artists concerned with the well-being of children have contributed to designs used for UNICEF cards. One such design was a tapestry Pablo Picasso created in 1961, entitled ‘Haven’.
Maurice Pate’s letter of acceptance
On 10 December 1946 — a day before UNICEF came into being — American businessman Maurice Pate penned a note in which he described UNICEF as "a minor item in the news which may grow larger in time".
A few months later, Mr. Pate would accept the role of UNICEF's first Executive Director.
'Rights of the Child' drawing by Audrey Hepburn
To commemorate the launch of a United Nations postage stamp on 14 June 1991, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Audrey Hepburn drew a design for ‘The Rights of the Child’. She signed a copy for the UNICEF Archives.