In July 2018, the Israel State Archive (ISA) uploaded to its website a large portion of a catalogue known inside the archive as “the Classified Records Catalogue”, which contains 251,420 titles. The titles, however, were not included in the ISA website search interface, nor was the Classified Records Catalogue uploaded as a single file, but rather as no less than 359 separate files. This format makes it very difficult for researchers and other archive users to use the Classified Records Catalogue to look for archival records and request access to them. This page is designed to provide a smooth interface for searching the Classified Records Catalogue titles. The search interface allows to select titles from the search results and export them into an excel sheet. Additionally, you can directly download the complete, unified list of the Classified Records Catalogue, which Andy Worms has kindly prepared for us.
Please note that at this time, the ISA is not allowing access to records included in the Classified Records Catalogue. The search page is designed to help researchers and archive users locate files that are of interest to them more easily and prepare for when the ISA does begin to offer regular access to these records. According to an ISA official, this is expected in several weeks.
The ISA divides archival records into “classified” and “unclassified”. This division is entirely internal, based on ISA work protocols and has no basis in the Archive Law or Access Regulations (both in Hebrew), which prescribe guidelines for declassifying archival records and granting access to them regardless of whether the records were originally classified.
Catalogues are essential tools for any archive user in any archive. Without an accessible catalogue, it is impossible to know what records are kept in the archive and what records are missing. Only through access to catalogues can users find unsealed records that can be accessed, or sealed records and then demand their declassification according to the Archive Law and Access Regulations.
Until recently, ISA catalogues were entirely inaccessible, and the archive users were unable to materialize their right to seek the declassification of records – which they did not know existed. This was one of the main obstacles to public access to the ISA. In November 2017, the ISA uploaded what it calls the Unclassified Records Catalogue to its website with a corresponding search interface. In July 2018, the ISA uploaded a large part of the Classified Records Catalogue, about 250,000 out of 300,000 titles. There is no known date for the release of the remaining titles in the Classified Records Catalogue, which, according to former Chief State Archivist, Dr. Yaakov Lozowick, have yet to be declassified due to various objections.
No. All the titles included in the search interface in this page were declassified by the ISA and made available for public access on the ISA website – but in a cumbersome manner. In this page we incorporated this public information in a friendly search interface, which also allows the export of selected titles.
Not yet. As noted, the publication of the Classified Records Catalogue does not mean the archival records themselves are accessible. The ISA currently lacks the capacity to provide public access to records listed in the Classified Records Catalogue, citing a need for technological upgrade of its internal systems. It is unclear when will the ISA allow access to the records listed in this Catalogue. Nevertheless, we hope that the many users of the ISA will find the search page we have created helpful in finding archival records of interest, and in preparing to ask for access to it as soon as the ISA makes the option available. We invite you to follow our Facebook page and website, where we will post updates on this matter, and contact us for advice.
Hopefully, receiving multiple applications to declassify archival records would prompt the ISA to develop efficient responses. This may also drive home the urgent need to expand declassification processes at the ISA and adapt them to the archive’s main function - providing access to records stored in government archives, and in particular, declassifying all archival records with respect to which the Restricted Access Period provided for under the Access Regulations has passed.
Sure, here you go
We thank Noam Rotem, Dr. Yael Netzer, Gai Zomer and Andy Worms who volunteered their time to help launch this page.