The Jewish Agency established the Relatives Search Department in 1944. Applications for locating relatives or acquaintances, with whom contact had been lost, were received from all over the world.
For each application, data was collected about the applicant and about the requested person, which usually included the name of the applicant and his address, his country of origin, date of birth, and names of the relatives whom he asked to locate.
In addition to the above information, every application may also include a reference leading to the personal file containing the correspondence relating to the application. The contents of the personal files are not uniform: sometimes they contain only the original application, and sometimes, additional correspondence.
Until it was closed in 1999, the department processed applications from all over the world containing requests to find relatives or acquaintances, with whom contact had been lost.
Over the years, the staff of the Relatives Search Department created a card catalog containing the names of the applicants and of the requested persons.
In the 1990s, a decision was taken at the Jewish Agency to computerize this card catalog and thus, a digital database was created that contains more than a million records.