Harvard University/Iraq Foundation project to catalogue Iraqi government documents
Iraq Research and Documentation Project (IRDP)

The Iraq Research and Documentation Project (IRDP) engaged in the collection and structuring of resources documenting the government, politics, and society of modern Iraq. Data collected by IRDP was of diverse content and format (official government documents, maps, citizen testimonies, reference sources, chronologies, bibliographies, notable articles, human rights reports, photographic and other images, audio and video materials).

The IRDP North Iraq Dataset (IRDP-NIDS) consists of approximately 2.4 million pages of official Iraqi documents. These documents, produced by security, intelligence, military, Ba’th party, and other official agencies of the Iraq state, originate from various northern Iraqi localities-primarily from the three northern Muhafazat of Sulaymaniyyah, Arbil, and Dohuk, and span, in their majority, the crucial decade of the 1980s (thus covering the consolidation of power of the Saddam Hussein regime, the Iran-Iraq war, the Kurdish insurgency, the Anfal operations, the preludes to the second Gulf war).

Access through the IRDP-NIDS to the bureaucratic apparatus of the Iraqi state provides a unique documentation of its procedural control methods. Such a resource is a unique opportunity for the field of Middle Eastern studies. Through the IRDP-NIDS, the issues of governance, totalitarianism, social control, ethnic policies, ideological indoctrination, can be studied and analyzed through substantial and substantive primary source documents.

IRDP undertook a detailed processing of the IRDP-NIDS aimed at categorizing and organizing the wealth of materials available, making them better accessible for academic researchers and others. A team of IRDP researchers is currently engaged in a page-by-page structured analysis of the whole dataset.

The IRDP-NIDS can be accessed and referenced through unique serial numbers assigned to individual pages. The whole IRDP-NIDS can be searched for keywords, personal names, and place names as they appear on screening sheets generated during the initial survey of the documents. Screening sheets are folder cover sheets describing the contents of a batch of documents, averaging 60 pages each. An Index lookup feature is also available, listing all the words used in these sheets. A significant portion of the IRDP-NIDS can be searched using the more thorough page annotations generated by the IRDP researchers team.

The IRDP Kuwait Dataset (IRDP-KDS) consists of more than 600,000 pages of official Iraqi documents originating from different political and military agencies during the occupation of the State of Kuwait.

It should be noted, despite the initial screening, all of this material is uncensored. Indeed, these documents include disturbing content, as well as personal data of regime members, collaborators, opponents, and other civilians. Privacy considerations may limit any public access to both the IRDP-NIDS and IRDP-KDS.

For more information, please visit the Iraq Memory Foundation, an organization which continues this work.