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Episode 36: Special Episode - The World’s Most Traveled Document, with Gudrun Beger & Colin Wells

November 18, 2020


While we cannot travel much these days, as we work together through COVID-19, we hope this story will take you on a bit of a journey!

Our colleagues Gudrun Beger and Colin Wells, from the Institutional Memory Section at the UN Geneva Library & Archives, join us for a special look into the League of Nations Archives. 

Gudrun is Team Analyst and Colin is Project Manager for the LONTAD Project, the Total Digital Access to the League of Nations Archives Project, which upon completion will ensure free access online to, as well as the digital and physical preservation of, the entire archives of the League of Nations.

For this conversation, Gudrun shares a brief history of The World’s Most Traveled Document: our passports and travel IDs. As part of the team working recently on the processing of the Mixed Archival Nansen Fond, they came across examples of some of the very first modern passports and travel IDs issued. Colin also shares some analysis about what we can find in the Archives on these documents, as well as the importance of the Archives collection to our understanding today of our history, the work of the League and some its lasting impacts, and multilateralism as it evolves and moves forward.  

Resources and Episode Materials 

Images and Credits

Dried bananas, found in the League of Nations Archives (United Nations Archives at Geneva).



Fridtjof Nansen, Norwegian polar explorer, scientist, diplomat, humanitarian and Nobel Peace prize laureate. (Wikimedia Commons: Henry Van der Weyd)



Nansen certificate issued in France as an international substitute for a passport, part of the League of Nations Archives (United Nations Archives at Geneva).


Passport of a Russian refugee (Konstantin Wlassoff-Klass) containing numerous German stamps, part of the League of Nations Archives (United Nations Archives at Geneva).



Speakers: Gudrun Beger, Colin Wells and Stefan Vukotic.

Host & Editor/Producer: Natalie Alexander.

Images: United Nations Archives at Geneva (see images for more information).

Sound effects: Via Envato Market (Belle Epoque Waltz and WWI Battle Ambience), Soviet March by Shane Ivers ( and World of Brothers Allegretto by Dee Yan-Kee).

Recorded & produced by the UN Geneva Library & Archives.


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