News and Events: Archive:

Faculty seminar on Holocaust visual history archive; Fri. Oct. 15th

An expansive new online resource on the Holocaust, now available at Rutgers, will be the focus of a half-day faculty seminar on Friday October 15th. Sponsored by the Rutgers University Libraries, The School of Arts and Sciences (SAS), and the Allen and Joan Bildner Center for the Study of Jewish Life, the seminar will take place in Alexander Library on the College Avenue Campus and will begin at 10:00 am. Lunch will be provided by the conference sponsors.

The new online resource - the USC Shoah Foundation's Visual History Archive - was secured with generous support from the School of Arts and Sciences. The archive allows Rutgers community members to view the videotaped testimonies of thousands of Holocaust survivors as well as witnesses to the atrocities. The USC Shoah Foundation's Visual History Archive will also support research and study of autobiographical narratives, foreign languages, and life in Europe before and after World War II.

The USC Shoah Foundation's Visual History Archive contains nearly 52,000 video testimonies in 32 languages (without subtitles) from 56 countries. The Institute interviewed Jewish survivors 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, guided by questions from a trained interviewer. The interviews average two and a half hours in length, including a display of materials, such as photos, supplied by the interviewee that are explained by him or her.

All names (1.5 million total) and place names mentioned in the testimonies (cross-listed with variant name forms) are linked in the search engine to segments (a minute in length) in individual testimonies that can then be viewed. Users can also select from a pick-list of subject headings (keywords) to select testimony segments for retrieval, filter their searches by language, gender, and experience group, and create their own sub-collection of testimonies called projects. Roughly 5% of all testimonies are available immediately, and any of the others can be requested through the database for viewing within 48 hours.

The faculty seminar will feature a faculty panel discussion on teaching and research that uses testimonies, a computer lab demonstration of advance search strategies in the archive, and a discussion of library support for research and teaching using the archive. SAS Executive Dean Douglas Greenberg, Vice President for Information Services and University Librarian Marianne Gaunt, and Bildner Center Director Yael Zerubavel will participate in the seminar. A faculty panel on teaching and research with testimonies will feature Ethel Brooks (Women's Studies and Sociology - Rutgers), Arlene Stein (Women's Studies and Sociology- Rutgers), Colin Keaveney (French literature - USC), and Dean Greenberg.

For more information on the seminar, and to RSVP, send email to Sherry Endick at

To access the Visual History Archive go to:"

For more information on how to use this resource, contact World History Librarian James P. Niessen by email at or by phone at 732.932.7129, ex. 136.

Established in 1994 by Steven Spielberg to collect and preserve the testimonies of survivors and other witnesses of the Holocaust, the USC Shoah Foundation Institute maintains one of the largest video digital libraries in the world: nearly 52,000 video testimonies in 32 languages and from 56 countries. The Institute is part of the College of Letters, Arts & Sciences at the University of Southern California; its mission is to overcome prejudice, intolerance, and bigotry—and the suffering they cause—through the educational use of the Institute's visual history testimonies.

The Institute works within the University and with partners around the world to advance scholarship and research, to provide resources and online tools for educators, and to disseminate the testimonies for educational purposes. In addition to preserving the testimonies in its archive, the Institute is working with partner organizations to help document the stories of survivors and other witnesses of other genocides.

For more information, visit the Institute's website,

Posted September 29, 2010