Startling evidence of the once vibrant Jewish life in Iraq came to light in May 2003 — over 2,700 books and tens of thousands of documents were discovered in the flooded basement of the Iraqi intelligence headquarters by a US Army team.
The remarkable survival of this written record of Iraqi Jewish life provides an unexpected opportunity to better understand this 2,500-year-old Jewish community. For centuries, it had flourished in what had generally been a tolerant, multicultural society. But circumstances changed dramatically for Jews in the mid-twentieth century, when most Iraqi Jews fled and were stripped of their citizenship and assets.
To provide accessibility throughout the world to the damaged materials found in 2003, the US National Archives and Records Administration and its partners have preserved, cataloged, and digitized the books and documents. The preservation of these archival materials was supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The exhibition Preserving the Iraqi Jewish Archive is on display at the National Archives in Washington, DC from November 8, 2013 to January 5, 2014.