Wikimedia Israel, the local branch of online free information service Wikipedia, has published some 28,000 pre-Israel photographs taken in and around the region which would eventually become the Jewish state.

The images provide snapshots of life in the area. As they are all over 50 years old, the photos are copyright free and available for use by everyone, the organisation said.

“These photos, which tell the history of the people who lived in this region between the years 1900-1946, are accessible for search, study, research, and use by the Israeli public and throughout the world,” Wikimedia said in a statement announcing the publication of the images earlier this month.

Wikimedia Israel said it had tried over the years to contact various organizations that maintain archives in order to look into the possibility of presenting the photos via Wikimedia Commons, thereby significantly broadening their exposure.

“We were surprised to discover that in some of the bodies there were no partners for creative thought to increase the use of the photos,” the media organisation said. “It is of great importance to release content whose copyright has certainly expired.”

The photos were garnered by sifting through publicly available material in the state archives, the Government Press Officer, the Jewish National Fund, the Palmach archive, and the archive of the Moshe Sharett Heritage Society.

“We hope that this will encourage these and other organizations to release their own archives,” Wikimedia said.