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SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY DIGITAL WITNESS SYMPOSIUM 2011: The Visual History Archive (VHA)  

Last Updated: Nov 18, 2013 URL: http://researchguides.library.syr.edu/VHADigitalWitness Print Guide

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Overview

Building the Archive

  • Overview of the Development and Uses of the Visual History Archive
    Included here is a video, “The USC Shoah Foundation Story.”

    "With a current collection of 51,696 eyewitness testimonies, the Institute’s Visual History Archive preserves history as told by the people who lived it. ... The Visual History Archive is the largest digital collection of its kind in the world. Currently encompassing 105,000 hours of video testimony, the archive is an invaluable resource for humanity, with nearly every testimony containing a complete personal history of life before, during and after the interviewee’s firsthand experience with genocide. The Visual History Archive is digitized, fully searchable, and hyperlinked to the minute." Archive indexing allows researchers "to retrieve entire testimonies or search for specific sections within testimonies through a set of more than 60,000 keywords and key phrases, 1.2 million names, and 700,000 images."
  • Collection, Cataloging, and Indexing of Testimonies
    "The Visual History Archive is an online portal from USC Shoah Foundation that allows users to search through and view nearly 52,000 audiovisual testimonies of survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust and other genocides." Initial interviews of Holocaust survivors were conducted in 58 countries and in 34 languages. "In April 2013, the Visual History Archive expanded to include a collection of 65 audiovisual testimonies of survivors and witnesses of the 1994 Rwandan Tutsi genocide."

    Downloadable reference documents: Outreach Flier; Archive User Manual; Pre-Interview Questionnaire; Interviewer Guidelines; Videographer Guidelines; Release Agreement; Keyword Thesaurus; Cataloguing Guidelines; Indexing Guidelines. (There are no translations or transcripts of testimonies.)

Works That Have Drawn on Material in the VHA

  • Documentary Films
    "The USC Shoah Foundation Institute has produced 11 documentary films, which have been broadcast in 50 countries and subtitled in 28 languages."
  • Publications
    "Selected bibliography of publications that draw from the USC Shoah Foundation Institute archive."
  • Course Lists
    "A total of 366 courses at 45 universities have drawn upon the Institute’s testimonies in over 25 disciplines and fields. The courses demonstrate the range of topics and themes that the Institute’s archive of video testimonies can help illuminate."

The Mission of the USC Shoah Foundation Institute

[mission statement on Institute Website] "Established by Steven Spielberg to gather the video testimonies of survivors and other witnesses of the Holocaust, the Institute today is a thriving part of the University of Southern Calfornia. Our ongoing work has expanded beyond that initial goal to cover the following major activities:

  • empower teachers with training and educational tools
  • increase academic integration, both in the U.S. and internationally
  • preserve and provide educational access to the archive
  • aid in efforts to collect and share memories of other genocides"

[mission statement on YouTube site] "Established in 1994 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 One Voice at a Time Website
    "Here you can watch the full-length testimony of 12 men and women who had diverse experiences during the Holocaust and the genocide in Rwanda."
  • "Seven Voices from the Holocaust" (multimedia lessons for the classroom for grades 9-12)
    "Designed for educators, Living Histories: Seven Voices from the Holocaust is a series of seven downloadable 30-minute testimonies with classroom lessons highlighting a range of eyewitness experiences related to the Holocaust ... This series provides educators with the opportunity to broaden students' understanding of the complexity of eyewitness experiences."
  • The IWitness Initiative (for secondary school educators and students)
    "Designed for secondary school educators and students, IWitness provides a searchable collection of more than 1,000 video testimonies of Holocaust survivors and other witnesses from the USC Shoah Foundation Institute’s archive, along with educational tools and supporting resources that provide context to deepen students’ understanding of the Holocaust."

Accessing the VHA

  • Access Sites Around the World
    Currently there are 42 sites in 11 countries at which the VHA is accessible in its entirety. Full access to all VHA testimonies is available only via a computer on the network of a comprehensive access site. First-time users must register; registration is free. (Syracuse University has been a comprehensive access site since 2008.)
  • FAQs about Using the Visual History Archive

Resources for Users of the VHA

VHA Contact at Syracuse University

  • Lydia W. Wasylenko, University Library (Unit for Research, Collections, & Scholarly Communication)
    lwwasyle@syr.edu

Expansion of the VHA

  • Documenting the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda
    "The USC Shoah Foundation Institute has been expanding efforts to collect and preserve memories of the genocide in Rwanda, which claimed as many as one million lives. The Institute has developed relationships with several organizations doing similar work in Rwanda, including IBUKA—the umbrella organization representing Rwandan survivors." 65 survivor and rescuer/aid-provider testimonies from the Rwandan Tutsi Genocide are already available for viewing.
  • Preserving Memories of the 1915 Genocide in Armenia
    "In April 2010, the USC Shoah Foundation Institute signed a historic agreement with the Armenian Film Foundation, the late Dr. J. Michael Hagopian, and Antoinette Hagopian. The agreement paves the way for the preservation and dissemination of the largest collection of filmed interviews of survivors and witnesses of the Armenian Genocide, the first genocide of the twentieth century. ... The Armenian Film Foundation’s film archive contains nearly 400 interviews of Armenian Genocide survivors and witnesses who are now deceased."
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