Israel Sun Photoarchive

Over 2 million digitized photographs documenting Israeli historical events and daily life from 1968-2003.
Margaret Thatcher, British Conservative Party leader, visits Golda Meir at Kibbutz Revivim, 1976 View Image
Digital image of photograph by Yisra'el Simionski / Israel Sun Ltd., from the Judaica Collection of the Harvard Library, Harvard University.

Israel Sun, Ltd.

Israel Sun, Ltd. was founded by Abraham “Shuko” Shilo in 1968, to provide English translations of Israeli news stories to Jewish newspapers around the world. As demand for this service grew, Shuko began adding photographs to these news items, and with that expansion the Israel Sun photo agency was born.

A group of men wearing prayer shawls and phylacteries stand on a skyscraper overlooking Tel Aviv.
Recitation of Birkat Ha-Hamah (sun prayer) at the lookout of Migdal Shalom in Tel Aviv, 1981. View Image
Digital image of photograph by Mudi Geler / Israel Sun Ltd., from the Judaica Collection of the Harvard Library, Harvard University.


“In those days, Israeli newspapers did not employ photographers,” Assaf Shilo, Shuko’s son and successor at Israel Sun, recalls. Instead, a cadre of Israel Sun photographers would be sent out to capture events around the country on film. When a photographer returned from an assignment, whatever the hour, he developed the film and photographic prints. Israel Sun would then offer those photographs to Israeli newspapers and magazines, as well as to foreign press outlets, as illustrations for their news stories. Many veteran photographers in Israel started their careers at Israel Sun and then went on to work for foreign news agencies or newspapers.

As the journalism industry entered the 21st century, the need for independent photo agencies diminished, and Israel Sun changed its mode of operations in 2003, switching to digital photography. The business formally closed upon Assaf Shilo’s retirement in 2019.

A young girl with dark braids holds two toddlers wearing head kerchiefs.
Russian immigrant children in a development town, 1975. View Image
Digital image of photograph by Lester Millman/ Israel Sun Ltd., from the Judaica Collection of the Harvard Library, Harvard University.


The Israel Sun Photoarchive at Harvard

In 2013, the Harvard Library Judaica Division acquired the negatives and slides in Israel Sun’s archives with income from the Harvard-Littauer Judaica Endowment, and began a multi-year project to digitize and catalog the images. The work was completed in 2018. The digitization of these materials was underwritten by a $1 million dollar grant from the Lucius N. Littauer Foundation in honor of the Judaica Division’s 50th anniversary.

Today the Israel Sun Photoarchive is a key component of the Judaica Digital Collection. Its over 2 million digitized images can be searched and viewed in HOLLIS. These images create a true “critical mass” of pictorial documentation of Israeli life and culture, from notable historical events to snapshots of ordinary moments.

A teacher wearing white stands at a blackboard in front of a class of women wearing nurse's caps. The words on the blackboard relate to pregnancy and conception.
The School of Nursing at Meir Hospital in Kefar Saba, 1971. View Image
Digital image of photograph by Gershon (last name not provided by Israel Sun) / Israel Sun Ltd., from the Judaica Collection of the Harvard Library, Harvard University.

Publishing Israel Sun Images

Harvard acquired the copyright to the negatives from Israel Sun, and so the Library has made medium-resolution files of the Israel Sun photographs viewable in HOLLIS to all for personal research and study.

How to Request

To publish an image from the Israel Sun Photoarchive (in print, online or in a movie/documentary), contact the Harvard Library Judaica Division for permission: juddiv@fas.harvard.edu. In your request, include all pertinent details about the forthcoming publication, including producer/publisher contact information.

The Judaica Division staff will review the request, verify the copyright status, and (whenever known) provide the individual photographer’s name for the image(s).

Once permission to publish is granted, you can place a reproduction request with the Library’s Imaging Services department to receive the high-resolution image file. When you submit your request to Imaging Services, please provide Imaging Services with the specific record identifier numbers (e.g., JPCDISUN16119.0000024).

Fees

In accordance with Harvard Library policy the Judaica Division does not charge a fee for the use of the images; however, the Library’s Imaging Services department charges a fee for the retrieval and delivery of the high-resolution image files.

 Seventeen men in white lab coats stand in front of a large metal electricity generator with a sign reading "Elco" above their heads.
Elco generator factory, 1980. View Image
Digital image of photograph by Mudi Geler / Israel Sun Ltd., from the Judaica Collection of the Harvard Library, Harvard University.

Crediting Images

The recommended crediting for Israel Sun images is:  Digital image of photograph by [Photographer’s Name - when known] / Israel Sun Ltd., from the Judaica Collection of the Harvard Library, Harvard University.

Please note that the copyright for a small subset of Israel Sun images does not belong to Harvard, and permission to publish those images is not Harvard’s to grant.  We will inform you if any of the images you request fall into this category.

Accessing These Materials

The digitized images of the Israel Sun Photoarchive are freely available online in HOLLIS.  They can be searched by keyword and subject, and results can be faceted by date and subject.  To see only Israel Sun images, include the keyword “JPCDISUN” in your search string.
 

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