Manuscripts related to the activities of the Unity of Brethren have been deposited in the memory institutions of many countries. The Unity Archives in Herrnhut play a coordinating role in identifying these manuscripts. The Archives organise conferences and publish the Unitas Fratrum collection of research papers.
Creators of Herrnhutian manuscripts found it important to convey the content of their specific message to readers and listeners. The names of texts’ authors, translators and transcribers were most often not recorded. The texts' partial anonymity still pose many puzzles for researchers. Writers can only be identified in cases where other documents written by the same hand are found. Researchers continue to work with the Herrnhutian manuscripts, deciphering texts, identifying writers and the originals of translations, interpreting the contexts of the era. The stories, songs and historical pieces translated into Latvian are often compilations of several treatises, the identification of which requires extensive knowledge of the history of European literature.
Systematic and focused work on building the National Library of Latvia collection of Herrnhutian manuscripts began in the 1960s, when a significant number of manuscripts reached the Rare Book and Manuscript Department. Donated manuscripts continue to augment the Library’s collection – even at the beginning of the 21st century - with old papers found in the attics of country houses turning out to belong to the Herrnhutian writing tradition. Latvian Herrnhutians’ manuscripts are also held by other repositories, including the Unity Archives in Herrnhut, Germany.
In 1987, Aleksejs Apīnis – long-time head of the Rare Book and Manuscript Department of the National Library of Latvia – wrote a book Without asking for permission: Latvian manuscript literature in the 18th and 19th centuries, in which he introduced readers to the world of Herrnhutian manuscripts and laid the foundations for research into it. For the first time, Latvian Herrnhutians’ texts were considered a literary phenomenon and were included in Latvian literary history as its oldest national component. In turn, in 2000, historian Gvido Straube wrote the book A Diary of the Latvian Unity of Brethren: (latest copy) or a History of the Herrnhutian Unity of Brethren in Latvia – the most extensive and significant study of the Herrnhutian movement in Latvia.
In 2022, the National Library of Latvia mounted an exhibition Awakening: the Story of the Herrnhutians, displaying the most significant manuscripts from the Library's collection. The exhibition was a reminder that the National Library of Latvia collection of Herrnhutian manuscripts is included in the Latvian national list of the UNESCO Memory of the World programme.
The National Library of Latvia has digitised all of the Herrnhutian manuscripts in its collection, creating the Unity of Brethren Manuscripts virtual collection in 2017. These items are also available on the Europeana website.
The collection enables audiences to not only find out about Herrnhutian manuscripts, but also about those writers who have been identified, as well as the places where these manuscripts were created or stored before they came into the Library's collection. Many genealogy researchers discover that their forebears have religious roots in the Herrnhutian movement and this digital collection stimulates their interest in the intellectual life of their ancestors.