Knesset archives go digital

Click photo to download. Caption: The Knesset. Credit: James Emery.(JNS.org) What did first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion say in the Knesset in 1952 on the issue of reparations from Germany? How surprised was the Knesset when it was announced that Adolf Eichmann was captured? What exact words did late Prime Minister Levi Eshkol use when he requested confirmation for the appointment of Moshe Dayan as defense minister on the eve of the Six-Day War?

In recent years, the Knesset has invested in scanning and storing those historic speeches and many more in its databases.

Dr. Rebecca Marcus, the Knesset archive manager, sits in a small room on the fifth floor of the Knesset. It is possible to almost immediately extract and locate Knesset speeches or plenary hearings from 30 or 40 years ago, she tells Israel Hayom. According to Marcus, the speech most asked for by the public is the one Ben-Gurion made to the Knesset on May 23, 1960, two days after the Mossad succeeded in capturing Nazi mastermind Adolf Eichmann in Argentina.

Marcus began working in the Knesset in 1972, as a parliamentary archivist.

“The computer era began only in 1980,” she says. “In those years [before computers], stenographers recorded the [Knesset] committees’ discussions and would usually type out the minutes in their homes, each with a different program. We received help from an external company and now all of the archives, from 1980 onward, have been scanned and put in our databases, about 700,000 documents.”

Currently, archive employees are engaged in gathering all of the photographs that have accumulated in the Knesset since its inception. Photos include images of heads of state who visited Israel and ministers and MKs having heated debates in the cafeteria and hallways. All of these photographs will be transferred to a digital system. 

Posted on February 25, 2013 .