Research Guide to League of Nations Documents and Publications

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Table 1. Official Number on Documents Produced Up To November 1919
symbol elements 2 digit number/number/number
for example, 19/4/3
1st element last two digits of the year the document was produced
2nd element number representing the type of document and its source
3rd element serial number issued to document
distribution documents that were distributed to members of the Council and/or the Assembly
location of symbol on documents upper-right corner of title page
an example The third numbered document issued by the Council in 1919 was 19/4/3. Documents issued by the Council were labeled -/4/-.
variations of the system Early numbering schemes were arbitrary. This table represents only one of a few schemes, which are too knotty to describe here. Researchers may wish to consult Reno's explanation on page xvi of his guide.

Table 2. Official Number on Documents Produced November 1919 - April 1921
symbol elements 2 digit number/number/number
for example, 20/4/3
1st element last two digits of the year the document was produced
2nd element number indicating the document's source or the members to whom the document was distributed
3rd element serial number issued to document
distribution documents that were distributed to members of the Council and/or the Assembly
location of symbol on documents upper-right corner of title page
an example The third document distributed to Council members in 1920 was 20/4/3. The -/4/- indicated that the document was a Council document.
variations of the system Numbers and letters represented subject matters or issuing agencies. They were often used to identify items issued by sub-committees.

A fourth numerical element identified revisions or complementary documents. For example, Document 20/4/3 was a cover letter from the Secretary-General to the Council, in which he explained that he was transmitting a memo. The memo he transmitted was assigned the number 20/4/3/1.

A capital letter added to a symbol indicated an appendix to the original document. For example, The first appendix to document number 20/4/25 was 20/4/25/A, the second appendix was 20/4/25/B.

exceptions to the rules Certain bodies already in existence adopted a simpler form of numbering, an identifying letter or letters and a consecutively issued item number. The Ghebalis produced a list of these exceptions.

Table 3. Official Number on Documents Produced From 1921 - 1947
symbol elements letter.number.year
for example, A.2.1923
1st element
A letter designating distribution

A = Assembly;
C = Council;
CL = circular letters addressed to member states or groups
M = members of the League who were not members of the Council
CM = documents addressed to the Council and distributed to the other League members
2nd element document identification number,
issued consecutively, each year began at 1
3rd element year
distribution documents that were distributed to members of the Council and/or the Assembly
location of symbol on documents upper-right corner of title page
an example The 34th document distributed to the Assembly in 1926 was assigned the number A.34.1926.
variations of the system Roman numerals were added to denote the section of the Secretariat drafting the document. These numerals were subject-based and followed those used for the sales category system. Please refer to Table 6.

CM class documents received two document numbers that were used in one symbol. For example, the report How to Make the League of Nations Known and to Develop the Spirit of International Co-operation received the symbol C.515.M.197.1927.XII. In 1927, it was both the 515th item distributed to Council members and the 197th item distributed to members of the League who were not members of the Council. The Roman numeral indicated that the content concerned intellectual cooperation.

Table 6. Roman Numerals Used In Official and Sales Numbers
Roman numeral Name of section of League Secretariat, and subject category
I.A Administrative Commission
I.B Protection of Minorities
II Economic and Financial Section
III Health
IV Social Questions (for example, the Advisory Committee on Traffic in Women and the Protection of Children)
V Legal Section
VI.A Mandates
VI.B Slavery
VII Political Section
VIII Communications and Transit
IX Disarmament
X Financial Administration of the League
XI Traffic in Opium and Other Dangerous Drugs
(documents were prepared by Social Questions, but assigned the category of XI)
XII.A Intellectual Cooperation
XII.B International Bureaus
XIII Refugees
examples
Official number on documents produced from 1921 - 1947, for example, C.658(1).M.269(1).1931.IX

Sales number, for example, 1932.IX.17

These are the official and sales numbers assigned to a work in Category IX, General Convention to Improve the Means of Preventing War. In 1931 this document was the 658th item distributed to Council members and the 269th item distributed to members of the League who were not members of the Council. It was published for sale to the public in 1932.