Akevot Institute is releasing today an online search tool for the Classified Records Catalogue of the Israel State Archives (ISA). The tool – in Hebrew only – is designed to provide a smooth interface for searching the Classified Records Catalogue titles and allows to select titles from the search results and export them into an excel sheet. Additionally, you can now directly download the complete, unified list of 251,420 titles (in Hebrew) incorporating the Classified Records Catalogue.
Access the tool here: https://xfiles.akevot.org.il
In July 2018, the Israel State Archives uploaded to its website a large portion of a catalogue known inside the archive as “the Classified Records Catalogue. The titles, however, were not included in the ISA website search interface, nor was the Classified Records Catalogue uploaded as a single file, but rather as no less than 359 separate files. This format makes it very difficult for researchers and other archive users to use the Classified Records Catalogue to look for archival records and request access to them. The unified list of titles and the new tool now available to search them make this Catalogue useable.
Please note that at this time, the ISA is not allowing access to the actual records included in the Classified Records Catalogue. The search tool is designed to easily help researchers and archive users locate files that are of interest to them and prepare for when the ISA does begin to offer regular access to these records.
What is the Classified Records Catalogue?
The ISA divides archival records into “classified” and “unclassified”. This division is entirely internal, based on ISA work protocols and has no basis in the Archives Law or Access Regulations (both in Hebrew), which prescribe guidelines for declassifying archival records and granting access to them regardless of whether the records were originally classified.
Catalogues are essential tools for any archive user in any archive. Without an accessible catalogue, it is impossible to know what records are kept in the archive and what records are missing. Only through access to catalogues can users find unsealed records that can be accessed, or sealed records and then demand their declassification according to the Archive Law and Access Regulations.
Until recently, ISA catalogues were entirely inaccessible, and the archive users were unable to materialize their right to seek the declassification of records – which they did not know existed. This was one of the main obstacles to public access to the ISA. In November 2017, the ISA uploaded what it calls the Unclassified Records Catalogue to its website with a corresponding search interface. In July 2018, the ISA uploaded a large part of the Classified Records Catalogue, about 250,000 out of 300,000 titles. There is no known date for the release of the remaining titles in the Classified Records Catalogue, which, according to former Chief State Archivist, Dr. Yaakov Lozowick, have yet to be declassified due to various objections.