As 2.35 million Israeli children head back to school this week, the National Library of Israel is hoping that a new Back to School online project in collaboration with Facebook Israel will help fill in missing information on many of its rare historic photographs.

More than a thousand pictures of schoolchildren from the 1950s to the 1990s have been uploaded to the NLI’s Facebook page, with an invitation to the general public to share the images and thereby help identify the people shown and provide related stories and context.

The photos were taken by professional photographers employed by the Dan Hadani Photo Service, whose archive of over a million photos is today part of the Pritzker Family National Photography Collection at the NLI, the world’s largest collection of photographs of Israel.

אולי הילדה בתמונה זו את?צפו בסרטון ובו תמונות של ילדי ישראל משנות ה-50 עד שנות ה-90 בבתי ספר שונים, וזהו את עצמכם, את ההורים ואת החברים בתמונות. חוזרים ללימודים עם הספרייה הלאומית בשיתוף פייסבוק ישראל – הצלחתם לזהות? כתבו לנו בתגובות! ????????לא מופיעים בסרטון? נסו לזהות באלבומים:ילדי שנות ה-60-50 >> https://www.facebook.com/pg/NationalLibraryIsrael/photos/?tab=album&album_id=2390960334283657ילדי שנות ה-70 >> https://www.facebook.com/pg/NationalLibraryIsrael/photos/?tab=album&album_id=2390968734282817ילדי שנות ה-90-80 >> https://www.facebook.com/pg/NationalLibraryIsrael/photos/?tab=album&album_id=2390979187615105

פורסם על ידי ‏הספרייה הלאומית‏ ב- יום ראשון, 25 באוגוסט 2019

Looking at the mostly unnamed children, questions arise in the viewer’s mind:

Who is the boy from Kibbutz Beit Alfa working the sewing machine in 1961?

This boy learning to sew lived on Kibbutz Beit Alfa in 1961, but his name and history are unknown. Photo courtesy of the Dan Hadani Photo Archive/Pritzker Family National Photography Collection at the National Library of Israel

How did the chess-playing boarding-school girls make out in life?

An undated photograph of anonymous boarding-school girls playing chess. Who were they? What became of them?Photo courtesy of the Dan Hadani Photo Archive/Pritzker Family National Photography Collection at the National Library of Israel

Did the young man on the Tel Aviv University computer in 1976 become part of Israeli high-tech scene?

Did this Tel Aviv University computer student in 1976 later become part of Israeli high-tech scene? Photo courtesy of the Dan Hadani Photo Archive/Pritzker Family National Photography Collection at the National Library of Israel

Happily, only a few days after releasing the photos, valuable information is already being supplied by Facebook users.

For example, a 1969 picture currently labeled “Student strike” has elicited the comment: “This is not a strike but a demonstration for the release of Salah Mu’allem and Prof. Shlomo Samueloff, whose airplane was hijacked to Damascus” – referring to the August 1969 hijacking of TWA Flight 840 – and notes that Samueloff had been the commenter’s professor at the Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Medicine.

A photo incorrectly labeled “Student strike” shows students demanding the release of Israelis imprisoned in Syria, following the hijacking of TWA Flight 840 in August 1969. Photo courtesy of the Dan Hadani Photo Archive/Pritzker Family National Photography Collection at the National Library of Israel

Others are identifying their childhood and teenaged selves, friends and acquaintances. A 1976 photo series of seemingly desultory teens turns out to be a group of idealistic youth volunteering in the development town of Kiryat Shmona prior to their army service.

Facebook users have identified these seemingly sullen teens as a 1976 group of idealistic pre-army youth volunteering in a development town. Photo courtesy of the Dan Hadani Photo Archive/Pritzker Family National Photography Collection at the National Library of Israel

Here and there are minor celebrity sightings, as in a photo labeled, “Sharona Marsh chosen as the world beauty girl returned finally to school after touring the glorious world.”

Marsh – one of Tel Aviv’s na’arotzohar (Hebrew for “glamour girls”) – went on to a successful modeling career in the 1970s and ’80s. With Facebook’s help, her friends in the photo will also be recognized, and their names preserved in the NLI archives.

Beauty contest winner Sharona Marsh was named in her 1969 photo caption but her friends remain to be identified. Photo courtesy of the Dan Hadani Photo Archive/Pritzker Family National Photography Collection at the National Library of Israel

The back-to-school photo albums have been subdivided into three parts: Children of the 1950s and 1960s, Children of the 1970s and Children of the 1980s and 1990s.

Does anyone know the identity of this 1975 photo of a boy with his lunchbox? Photo courtesy of the Dan Hadani Photo Archive/Pritzker Family National Photography Collection at the National Library of Israel

Facebook’s “tag photo” feature is not enabled, apparently out of privacy considerations. Therefore, contributions to the project must be input as comments, which are then reviewed by NLI staff.

The Back to School photo ID project follows the success of the joint NLI-Facebook “Naming the Soldiers” project where, in honor of Israel’s 71st Independence Day, the public was invited to identify people in historic images of IDF soldiers.

In the case of a 1973 photo, originally labeled simply, “Dvora Havkin and her group, performing before soldiers,” not only were all of the previously anonymous soldiers identified, but the story of that IDF unit also came to light.

The joint NLI-Facebook “Naming the Soldiers” project successfully identified everyone pictured in this 1973 photo of an IDF unit being entertained by singer Dvora Havkin. Photo courtesy of the Dan Hadani Photo Archive/Pritzker Family National Photography Collection at the National Library of Israel

 Here’s hoping the “Back to School” project will benefit from similar rewards.

The NLI Back to School and Naming the Soldiers projects are made available to the public through the assistance and funding of Facebook Israel.