In order to make the more than 100,000 hours of video searchable, the USC Shoah Foundation Institute has catalogued and indexed the testimonies in its archive.
The catalogue entry for each testimony consists of biographical information about each interviewee, taken primarily from the Pre-Interview Questionnaire that the interviewer filled out prior to each interview. This questionnaire asked for detailed biographical information about the interviewees’ birthplace, education, family members, prewar occupation, religious affiliation, ghetto and concentration camp experiences, resistance activities, and post-war life. For further information about the USC Shoah Foundation Institute’s cataloguing methodology, please see the Cataloguing Guidelines.
The indexing data associated with each testimony permits end-users to perform detailed searches to locate particular moments within each testimony. USC Shoah Foundation Institute staff matched appropriate index terms to one-minute segments of each testimony, thereby permitting users to perform detailed searches for relevant segments of testimonies.
At the core of the USC Shoah Foundation Institute’s indexing system is a controlled vocabulary, the USC Shoah Foundation Institute’s Thesaurus, of over 50,000 index terms. These index terms include geographical locations and time periods – e.g. Mukacevo, Czechoslovakia, or Germany 1941 – as well as location names – e.g. Auschwitz (Poland: Concentration Camp) – and experiences – e.g. thirst in hiding or separation of loved ones. The names of the 1.2 million individuals mentioned in each testimony are also indexed and searchable. For further information about the USC Shoah Foundation Institute’s indexing methodology, please see the Indexing Guidelines.