The History Meeting House in Warsaw has become the first institution in Poland to offer full access to the Archive of the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education. Nearly 52,000 videotaped testimonies of Holocaust survivors and other witnesses, recorded in 56 countries and in 32 languages—mostly between 1994 and 1999—can now be remotely accessed via an online interface that allows searching and viewing the fully indexed video and related metadata.
The History Meeting House held an opening event on April 24, 2012. Invited guests included: Jacek Leociak, PhD, representative of the Polish Center for Holocaust Research at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, experts working in the field of oral and audio-visual history, and media representatives.
At the introductory press conference, the Institute Regional Consultant in Poland Monika Koszyńska presented the online Visual History Archive application and spoke about the Institute’s educational work around the world.
Prof. Leociak, having used the VHA extensively in his research, spoke about the nature of video testimonies and encouraged Polish scholars and educators to apply this remarkably rich collection in their research and teaching work.
Sociologist Dr. Piotr Filipkowski, representative of the History Meeting House, expert in interviewing history witnesses and testimony analysis, underscored the uniqueness of the archive, its breadth and depth, and diversity of experiences represented in the collection.
Ms. Anna Maciąg, the History Meeting House representative in charge of access to the Visual History Archive, gave an in-depth demonstration of its functionality with the emphasis on the search system, which allows users to retrieve both whole testimonies of relevance, as well as specific segments within testimonies that relate to their area of interest, by searching data and viewing digital video, fully-indexed to the minute.
Concluding the event, the History Meeting House Deputy Director Katarzyna Madoń-Mitzner pledged to ensure availability of the new access site to all interested groups and individuals.