Library seeks help identifying soldiers in thousands of archived photos
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Library seeks help identifying soldiers in thousands of archived photos

Naming the Soldiers project by National Library asks public to tag pictures with names of those they know who served in Israel’s wars

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

An armor unit on alert in the Negev desert, May 20, 1967. (IPPA/Dan Hadani archive via National Library of Israel)
An armor unit on alert in the Negev desert, May 20, 1967. (IPPA/Dan Hadani archive via National Library of Israel)

The National Library of Israel on Tuesday launched a Facebook campaign aimed at filling in missing information from thousands of photos that captured moments in the lives of Israel Defense Forces soldiers over a period of decades.

The Naming the Soldiers project, run together with Facebook Israel, is to mark Israel’s 71st Independence Day, which starts on Wednesday night and continues Thursday.

On Tuesday, hundreds of photos of soldiers taken during various military campaigns were loaded onto the library’s English-language blog and information provided by the public will be cataloged and archived.

“We invite the Israeli public to tag and identify their loved ones, family and friends who served in Israel’s wars, so that their names will be commemorated in the annals of Israel’s history and will be preserved for the coming generations alongside the cultural and heritage treasures of the state and people which are stored in the national library,” the library said in a statement.

The project is part of a wider campaign begun last summer that aims to digitize the library’s archive of some 2.5 million photos, taken over the last 150 years, by transferring old negatives to digital format.

A photo from the National Library of Israel archives. (IPPA/Dan Hadani archive via National Library of Israel)

A significant number of photos were donated by Dan Hadani, who founded the Israel Press and Photo Agency in 1965, and who gave the library over a million images documenting decades of Israeli history.

Photographers for the agency snapped IDF soldiers the length and breadth of the country, during peace and war.

However, many of the photos have only a date and location with no further information, the library said.

“In light of that, the library decided to get help from the wider public, and with the assistance of Facebook Israel to distribute the photos to as many people as possible in order for them to help and gather the most important information about the photos — who is photographed in the pictures and what is the story behind the image,” the statement said.

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