Visual History Archive (VHA)

Visual History Archive (VHA)
USC Shoah Foundation Institute's Visual History Archive

The USC Shoah Foundation Institute's Visual History Archive contains over 54,000 video testimonies in over 40 languages and from more than 60 countries. The Institute interviewed Jewish survivors (49,400 out of the total) and other persons with experience of the Holocaust. Each interview consists of a single witness speaking about his or her life before, during, and after World War II. The interviews average two and a half hours in length, and each includes a display of materials, such as photos, which are supplied and interpreted by the interviewee.

VHA also includes video testimonies on the Armenian Genocide, the Nanjing Massacre, the Cambodian Genocide, the Guatemalan Genocide of 1978-1983, the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, the ongoing conflicts in the Central African Republic and South Sudan, and anti-Rohingya mass violence. It also includes testimonies about contemporary antisemitism and acts of violence against Jews.

Most testimonies are indexed. In indexed testimonies, all names (1.5 million total) and place names mentioned are indexed and searchable at the one-minute segment level. In addition to basic searching, it is possible to search by Experience Group, Index terms, People, and Places. Each testimony includes a biographical profile, a list of indexed terms and their segments, and a list of people mentioned and their segments. In each testimony’s metadata, the ProQuest Search in Bio Profile and ProQuest Search in Segment options display results related to the current testimony from ProQuest databases. Some testimonies also contain transcripts.

It is not necessary to create an individual account to access the database, but users can create a free account in order to save testimonies into their own sub-collections, which are called projects. The freely available Visual History Archive Online provides the same search capabilities, but the full video is displayed for only 1600 testimonies.

Dates covered

The period 1939-45 is the chief focus, but interviews typically cover the period beginning 10 years before the war and ending 10 years after the war.

Resource types
USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education in partnership with ProQuest