A 110-year-old trove of pictures taken by the Christian photographers of the American Colony in Jerusalem provides dramatic proof of thriving Jewish communities in Palestine. Hundreds of pictures show the ancient Jewish community of Jerusalem’s Old City and the Jewish pioneers and builders of new towns and settlements in the Galilee and along the Mediterranean coastline. The American Colony photographers recorded Jewish holy sites, holiday scenes and customs, and they had a special reason for focusing their lenses on Yemenite Jews.

The collection, housed in the U.S. Library of Congress, also contains photographs from the 1860s, the first years of photography. These photographs provide a window rarely opened by historians-for several unfortunate reasons-to view the life of the Jews in the Holy Land. The photographs’ display and online publication effectively counters the biased narrative claiming that the Jewish state violently emerged ex novo in the mid-twentieth century.

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