In June of 2003, the National Archives Preservation Programs received a call for help from Iraq.

American soldiers had found tens of thousands of documents and 2,700 Jewish books while searching in the flooded basement of Saddam Hussein’s intelligence headquarters. The historic material was soaking wet.

And so Doris Hamburg and Mary-Lynn Ritzenthaler boarded a C-130 cargo plane and flew to Iraq.

Over the next several years, the documents would be cleaned, rehoused in custom-built boxes, stabilized, cataloged, and digitized. Experts in Jewish history, Iraqi and Jewish history, the Iraqi Jewish community, and Jewish rare books lent their skills and knowledge.

On November 7, 2013, the exhibit “Discovery and Recovery: The Iraqi Jewish Archive” opened to the public at the National Archives, and it will be on display until January 5, 2014. You can also see the documents online in a new website.

Read the full story on the Prologue blog: