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Serial and Government Publications Division





Federal Depository Collection
Federal Advisory Committee Collection
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International Organizations
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1st International Congress of Working Women Schutz Group Photographers (Washington, D.C.). October 28, 1919. Prints and Photographs Division. PAN SUBJECT-Groups, no. 77.
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Because the United States is a world power and key player in international affairs, sources that provide information about American women, their place in the world, and their involvement in international politics are significant. American women have participated as leaders and as staff of international organizations and have worked with women of other countries to initiate reforms on an international level.

The Serial and Government Publications Division receives publications from many major international organizations, including the

  • United Nations (UN)
  • World Health Organization (WHO)
  • International Labour Organization (ILO)
  • Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
The World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization, related to the United Nations through treaty, sponsor programs supporting women and children. The International Labour Organization promotes standards for women in the workforce. All produce statistics, reports, and studies which provide the basis for comparing American women with their counterparts around the world.

Together with U.S. government publications, publications of international organizations contain an official view of women in America and the world and document what is important to the national and international community. Women are ubiquitous in these publications, and American women figure prominently in all. International reports and statistics also provide a basis for comparing the condition of the American woman to that of her counterparts around the world.

United Nations

By far the most heavily used of the international organization collections is the depository set of United Nations material. The United Nations has a variety of programs that highlight women's issues, promote human rights and gender equality, and monitor women's involvement in economic and social issues around the world. Official UN records, reports, studies, and statistical compendia include a wealth of information about American women, placing them and U.S. policies toward women's issues within a larger context. Because the collection dates to the founding of the United Nations and includes all of its member countries, it is quite feasible to do longitudinal, comparative studies on women's health, education, employment, and human rights.

American women have been involved in the United Nations since its founding. Eleanor Roosevelt was the first chairperson of the UN Commission on Human Rights. Jeane Kirkpatrick was named ambassador to the United Nations from 1981 to 1985. Madeleine Albright served from 1993 to 1997. Public statements by these and other American women who have spoken before the UN General Assembly and UN agencies attest to their power and influence in world affairs—and all are documented in the proceedings, press releases, and voting records of the institution.

The United Nations's policy toward women is represented in its many and varied agencies and programs that monitor women worldwide: UNICEF, the Women's Development Fund, the Commission on the Status of Women, and the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women. To date, the United Nations has sponsored four international conferences on women, the latest taking place in Beijing, as well as the United Nations Decade of Women (1976-85). The UN General Assembly has convened special sessions regarding women, most recently in June 2000, Women 2000: Gender Equality, Development, and Peace for the Twenty-first Century. Beginning in 1970 within its own bureaucracy, the United Nations promoted balance and equality for women in the workforce. Enduring UN conventions, such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), are supported and promoted by Americans.

Using the United Nations Collection

Like U.S. government publications, the UN material in the Library's online catalog does not reflect all the official materials received by the Library. Available in paper or microfiche, UN material includes documents arranged by UN document number, official records produced by the major UN bodies (General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council, Trusteeship Council), and serial publications.

Reference material in the Newspaper and Current Periodical Room provides a gateway to the division's (and the Library's) UN collection. The Yearbook of the United Nations (1946 to present; JX1977.A37 Y4 N&CPR full set) gives an overview of each year's activities, with full text of many UN resolutions and references to document numbers for background research. Women figure prominently in its extensive index. The United Nations produces print and online indexes to its publications and documents. Together with reference sources produced by private publishers, these indexes offer the best ways to access the wealth of UN material available to researchers.

Official Web sites of the United Nations are also access points. Besides the main Web site of the United Nations (see Serial and Government Publications External Sites), which serves as a gateway to each UN assembly, agency, and program, specialized Web sites gather information about women's programs and serve as host sites for women's conferences. WomenWatch: The UN Working for Women (see Serial and Government Publications External Sites) gathers sources about women from UN organizations, treaties, conferences, statistics, and country profiles.

SEARCH TIPS: For help in finding UN documents and publications, general indexes with a variety of formats and coverage exist. The Index to United Nations Documents and Publications on CD-ROM (networked through N&CPR) by Readex is the most comprehensive and the easiest to use, indexing documents and publications currently and retrospectively. It includes full text of many resolutions.

AccessUN (see Serial and Government Publications External Sites) covers UN material from 1998.

General indexes in paper format (all available in N&CPR) include:

UN Documents Index, 1950-73 (Z6482.U45)
UNDEX: United Nations Documents Index, 1974-78 (Z6481.U4)
UNDOC: Current United Nations Documents Index, 1979-96 (Z6481.U19)
United Nations Documents Checklist, 1996-97
United Nations Documents Index, 1998-(Z6481.U19)

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