The cigarbox collection

Donated by Othniel Seiden, these fascinating photos of British Mandate Palestine are an heirloom from his father.

Kibbutz children, old black and white 370 (photo credit: courtesy)
Kibbutz children, old black and white 370
(photo credit: courtesy)
The antique wood cigarbox was beautifully crafted and bound like a book. Opening the box, I discovered it was filled with a stack of pictures from Palestine 90 to 100 years ago.
Almost simultaneously, I received an email from a doctor in Denver which began, “I am delighted that the pictures have found a new home!” When I discovered 22,000 newly digitized antique pictures of Eretz Yisrael in the Library of Congress archives two years ago, I immediately recognized the pictures’ hasbara value. The photos showed Jewish life in the land 150 years ago, well before Herzl and the establishment of the State of Israel.
But many of the pictures were not captioned nor were the dates or locations always correct. I began a painstaking process of research and enlarging photos to identify places, people and the chronological sequences. My analyses became essays which grew to 300 photo analyses in the Israel Daily Picture blogsite. The site has attracted some 800,000 visitors, and the Library of Congress has used some of these analyses to correct its captions.
Many of the photo essays appeared in this Magazine The Library of Congress archives’ largest collection came from the American Colony Photographic Department in Jerusalem. Other pictures on the site were taken by some of the first pioneers of photography in the 1850s and 1860s. I have also published essays based on the photos (only after securing permission) from the archives of Harvard, the New York Public Library, and a Scottish medical school archives that contained antique pictures of the Jews of Tiberias amidst anatomical photographs of limbs, operations, and disease.
Dr. Othniel Seiden of Denver is a fan of Israel Daily Picture and offered his exceptional collection.