Iraqi Jewish Archive

2000 books and tens of thousands of documents pertaining to the Iraqi Jewish community were found damaged in the basement of Saddam Hussein’s intelligence headquarters in 2003.  NARA’s Iraqi Jewish Archive preservation team is very busy stabilizing, conserving, boxing and digitizing these intriguing items. The project is funded by the Department of State. In the fall the digitized images will be accessible for free online.

Conservator Katherine Kelly is piecing together document fragments.

Photo by Richard Schneider.   

Don’t forget to take a peek at The Washington Post article about the Iraqi Jewish Archive!


Preserving History

Next week we will be opening an extraordinary exhibit, “Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage,” at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. The exhibit, spanning more than 400 years, tells the story of the dramatic recovery on May 6, 2003 of 2,700 books and tens of thousands of documents from a flooded basement in the headquarters of the Mukhabarat, Saddam Hussein’s secret police.

The discovery, named the Iraqi Jewish Archive, included some of the most sacred texts of the Jewish people, including an ancient Torah, Talmud and Zohar—along with tens of thousands of documents relating to the Jewish community in Iraq. Upon the discovery of the documents, we were immediately called in due to our Agency’s extensive expertise in protecting great cultural treasures such as these from decay and destruction.

The exhibit, in the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery, opens on November 7th and closes on January 5th, 2014.

Read the full post on the AOTUS blog

The Remnants of a Culture’s Heart and Soul
Iraqi Jewish Documents at the National Archives

These are not the weapons of mass destruction that the American Mobile Exploitation Team Alpha was seeking in Iraq during the spring of 2003. But the books and manuscripts that the team found in a flooded basement of Saddam Hussein’s secret police headquarters — now on display for the first time at the National Archives here — look like victims of some form of ordnance.

To read more about this story, visit The New York Times website!

Celebrating Passion and Accomplishment

With the opening of the “Discovery and Recovery” exhibit, I had a chance last week to thank many of the National Archives staff who made it possible.  And it truly took a village to make this happen!  Staff from just about every corner of the Agency contributed—preservation and conservation, security, legal, communications, exhibits, digital engagement, innovation, digital preservation, holdings protection, programs, and facilities. Truly a team effort.

Read the full post on the AOTUS blog.