Who was Ben-Gurion?
David Ben-Gurion was Israel’s first prime minister and leader of the Zionist Movement in the pre-state years. He was among those who wrote Israel’s Declaration of Independence and shaped the country’s image as a Jewish and democratic state. He also led Israel to victory during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.
The Archive includes thousands of documents, photographs, and videos involving Ben-Gurion, from his childhood to his death. In many ways, the Ben-Gurion Archive is like the Presidential Libraries of the Founding Fathers in the US.
Who are we?
The Ben-Gurion Archive was founded in the 1970s, as part of the Ben-Gurion Heritage Institute, to commemorate “The Old Man”. The Archive is located in the Negev, close to Ben-Gurion’s Desert Home in Sde Boker, and at an educational center (Midrasha) that bears his name – nowadays the town of Midreshet Ben-Gurion. The Archive is located at the Ben-Gurion Research Institute for the Study of Israel and Zionism, at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, and is run by both institutes: The Ben-Gurion Heritage Institute and the Ben-Gurion Research Institute for the Study of Israel and Zionism.
What do we do?
We maintain Ben-Gurion’s private archive and provide access to it, in accordance with the Ben-Gurion Law and the Archives Law. We gather documents about his personality, achievements, and work from other sources, preserve them, and make them accessible to the public.
We also take in additional collections about personalities who worked with him or left their mark on the Zionist Movement and the State of Israel.
What will you find here?
All his journals, letters to and from him circa 1900-1973, speeches, the protocols of the organizations and institutions he served in throughout the 20th century, and other such items.
Here, you will also find a collection of photographs and newspaper clippings, quotes by Ben-Gurion, and audio and video clips.
We also have other significant collections, such as the archive of Israel’s 5th president, Yitzhak Navon, and collections that revolve around Shabtai Teveth, Roberto Bachi, and others.
The oral documentation of prominent figures in Israel’s history, including that of Shabtai Teveth.
The digital archive – our archive is one of the pioneers of digitization. All documents in this archive were scanned and made accessible from the 1980s onwards, via our computerized system.
The community archives project, through which we established online archives for communities in medium-sized cities in the Negev, with the collaboration of local communities: Yeruham, Mitzpe Ramon, Hura, and Ofakim.
We believe in freely available information. We do not charge for use of the archive and allow browsing and examining Archive documents without restriction.
We aim to bring the Archive to the public with our fascinating exhibition hall, aimed at visitors of all ages.
We believe in collaborations. Each of our projects and collections was the product of collaborations with fellow institutions.
We aspire to always remain in the forefront of productivity. Our pioneering digitization enterprise was thought of and executed by members of the University, including Prof. Tuvia Friling, the late Gad Kochva, the late Naftali Elkin, and Shmuel Gruber, when the internet was still in its infancy. These days, thanks to the generous donation of the David and Janet Polak Foundation, we embark upon a new project to retrieve all the information from the Archive and apply the tools of the Digital Humanities field.
We see ourselves as part of Israel’s community and society, invite visitors from Israel and the world, and promote community projects.
How can we help you?
You are welcome to search our website for documents on various topics regarding people, institutions, and affairs from different times.
You are welcome to write to us for advice.
You are welcome to take a look at the exhibits on our website and learn something new/old.
And you are especially welcome to visit our new exhibition at the Ben-gurion Research Institute for the Study of Israel and Zionism, the Sde Boker Campus at Ben-Gurion University, Midreshet Ben-Gurion.
How can you help us?
Do you have a document on Ben-Gurion that has not yet been added to the archive?
Do you have an important archival collection clearly associated with the Zionist Movement and the State of Israel that you would like to entrust us with?
Do you have free time, speak Yiddish or other European languages, and would like to volunteer to translate?
Do you have a cool idea for a collaboration?
If so, please contact us.