Unique Bedouin archive finds home at National Library of Israel

Over the past fifty years, Bedouin expert Dr. Clinton Bailey has documented and researched Bedouin life in the Sinai and Negev deserts.

Bedouin riders at the Gulf of Eilat (photo credit: DR. CLINTON BAILEY)
Bedouin riders at the Gulf of Eilat
(photo credit: DR. CLINTON BAILEY)
The Clinton Bailey Archive of Bedouin Culture, a unique collection of material on Bedouin life, is to find a new home at the National Library of Israel and be presented for the first time in its entirety online, the library announced.
Dr. Clinton Bailey interviewing a Bedouin elder, 1972. (Boris Carmi/Meitar Collection/National Library of Israel archives)Dr. Clinton Bailey interviewing a Bedouin elder, 1972. (Boris Carmi/Meitar Collection/National Library of Israel archives)
Over the past fifty years, Bedouin expert Dr. Clinton Bailey has documented and researched Bedouin life in the Sinai and Negev deserts, collecting oral testimonies and photographing the Bedouin lifestyle. The online collection will include transcriptions of hundreds of hours of recorded testimony, photos and slides and a catalogue allowing full digital access to the materials in three languages - English, Arabic and Hebrew.
Bedouin judges in court (Dr. Clinton Bailey)Bedouin judges in court (Dr. Clinton Bailey)
Approximately 200,000 Bedouin live in Israel, split between the Negev and the North, although there has been a decline of their nomadic lifestyle since the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, and now many of the communities are semi-nomadic. 
The city of Rahat in the Negev has a population of over 70,000 and as such is the largest Bedouin settlement in the world. 
Bedouin women (Dr. Clinton Bailey)Bedouin women (Dr. Clinton Bailey)
Bailey collected testimony from Bedouin elders who have long since died, and the archive presents an invaluable glimpse into a disappearing way of life that will provide educational material to future generations and to Bedouin children who themselves are unfamiliar with the old way of life. 
Subjects covered and discussed include the oral traditions and histories of Bedouin life and their religious practices and laws, as well as the poetry and song of Bedouin culture, one of the most popular art forms among the Bedouin. 
“The irreplaceable materials in the archive will serve members of the Bedouin community interested in learning about their past, as well as scholars in Israel and abroad for generations to come," said Dr. Raquel Ukeles, Head of Collections at library. "Safeguarding and opening access to these materials is central to the mission and mandate of the National Library of Israel, as we work diligently to preserve the treasures of all of Israel’s communities and share them with diverse audiences locally and internationally.”
Bedouin milk churning (Dr. Clinton Bailey)Bedouin milk churning (Dr. Clinton Bailey)