Preserving the Iraqi Jewish Archive

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Former Iraqi Jewish Archive (IJA) Conservator Katherine Kelly examines a book of writings with Rabbinic commentary, printed in 1567.

Since 2003, the National Archives and its partners have worked to preserve and provide access to the damaged books and documents found at that time in the flooded basement of Saddam Hussein's intelligence headquarters in Baghdad. The materials were informally named at that time the Iraqi Jewish Archive (IJA). Through cataloging, conservation, digitization, and posting online, these books and documents are now accessible free throughout the world to all who are interested. Former Director of Preservation Programs Doris Hamburg, and former Conservation Chief Mary Lynn Ritzenthaler, share this extraordinary story and take you "behind the scenes" in this brief video.

The exhibition Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage, opened on October 11, 2013 in the Lawrence F. O'Brien Gallery at the National Archives Building downtown on the Mall, and ran through January 5, 2014. For more information about the exhibit, visit the press release page.

At the time of the exhibit opening, a website dedicated to the IJA project and collection was created to provide access to high resolution images of the materials, the story of the collection's preservation, and an online version of the exhibit. Included on the site are four additional videos highlighting the work.

Press coverage included an article by Michael E. Ruane for The Washington Post.