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History at the National Library of Israel

Of all the fields of human knowledge, history—describing the sequence of important events which have occured in the past over different cultures, periods and places—is one of the most comprehensive, complex and multibranched. Given the breadth of human history, more focused branches of research have developed over time, such as the history of science, the history of economics, the history of culture, art history, the history of law, the history of languages, the history of religion and even the history of food and of sports.

Israeli History

From the 19th century to the present, many turbulent and decisive world events have had an impact on the Jewish people and the Zionist idea, making this period in world history one of the most fascinating in Jewish history. In worldwide terms, the two world wars and the Holocaust that occurred in the 20th century, represent the greatest tragedies humankind has known.

Naturally, alongside Jewish history, the Israeli public’s interests focus on the history of the Land of Israel and the State of Israel. The history of Israel over the last two hundred years includes countless chapters, including the awakening of Zionism and Zionist philosophy in Europe, Jewish life in the Land of Israel before the beginning of Zionist immigration ( the period known as "The Old Yishuv"), the first waves of immigration, the activities of the Zionist movement and its leaders , the Balfour Declaration, the underground movements, illegal immigration to Mandatory Palestine, Israel's declaration of Independence, its various wars, the establishment of immigrant camps, the period of austerity and various significant affairs and episodes in the history of Israeli society, such as the Wadi Salib riots, the murder of Israel Kastner, Operation Entebbe and many others.

Historical Documentation at the National Library

Diverse interpretations and worldviews have influenced the telling of history, with the result that we have many different and even contradictory versions of the same events. The study of historical archival materials offers a direct impression of historical events as they occurred in real time, as well as the figures and human stories involved in them.

One of the National Library’s main goals is to make the archival treasures of the State of Israel and the Jewish people accessible to the public and to researchers. In the 120 years of the Library’s activity, fascinating materials have been collected on an enormous scale that enrich historical knowledge from interesting points of view. The Library’s collections contain archives of institutions and leaders, manuscripts, books, recordings, maps, photographs and many other items. Moreover, the Library provides digital access to repositories of historical press, including historical Jewish, Hebrew and Arabic press. These resources reveal a whole range of intriguing layers of history.