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Israeli history photo of the week.(Photo by: American Colony-Jerusalem-Photo Dept.)
Israeli history photo of the week: Early settlements
JPost special feature: Library of Congress photographs that document Israel before the creation of the state.
The Library of Congress has recently digitalized a collection of over 10,000 photographs,
taken by the "American Colony" in Jerusalem, a group of Christian utopians who lived in
Jerusalem between 1881 and the 1940s. The photographers returned to the US, and bequeathed their massive collection to the Library of Congress in 1978. The collection includes Winston Churchill's visit to Jerusalem, Jewish expulsions from the Old City during Arab riots, and the building of Tel Aviv.

The Congressional Research Service is a top-notch research organization providing policy analyses to Members of Congress and congressional committees.  It is housed in the Library of Congress, and many of their reports are available to the public.

Eighteen months ago, Lenny Ben-David, a policy and public affairs consultant and former Israeli diplomat in Washington, searched online for a report on U.S. policy on Israeli settlements.  Up popped on his screen a title, "Jewish Colonies and Settlements," a very curious title. Colonies?

As Ben-David delved into the Library's files he came across the recently digitalized American Colony-Matson collection of some 22,000 photographs, dating from the 1890s until 1946. Some were captioned, "Jewish Colonies and Settlements." After the American Colony Photographic Department closed in the 1940s, the pictures and negatives were shipped back to the United States.  In the 1970s an old age home in California donated them to the Library of Congress.  The Library of Congress collection also included other pictures by pioneer photographers dating back to the 1850s.

Upon viewing the vast collection and understanding its historical significance, Ben-David launched the site.

Israel Daily Picture has featured essays on the founders of the American Colony who arrived in Palestine in 1881 and saw the return of Jews to the Land of Israel as fulfillment of a Biblical prophecy.  Hundreds of pictures depict Jewish life in the Holy Land in the 19th and early 20th centuries, decades before Israel's founding in 1948.

 Already in 1898, a photographer from the American Colony, reportedly hired by Zionist leader Theodor Herzl,  traveled throughout Palestine photographing Jewish settlements for an album presented at the 1899 Zionist Congress in Basel.

We present here a collection of photos taken at the new Yishuv's communities.

More photos can be viewed at
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