Creative Storytelling

Our storytelling projects are both based on and inspired by the more than 55,000 testimonies in the Institute’s archive. They are a deeper look into the emotional complexities of our survivor stories and told through the written word, video, audio and photography. They are an opportunity to explore the impact that these voices have and the way in which testimony drives our understanding of conflict and grief as well as resilience, resistance and hope.

“I remember lots and lots of light,” Karla Ballard told me about her childhood home just outside of Philadelphia, a community called Friends of the Fairfax. “So much light. And a beautiful, long dining room table. My father was an entrepreneur and my mom was a nurse. I just remember lots of light coming into that house and having grandparents around watching us, and having Susan, Eileen, and Max — my mother’s best friends.”
Tuesday, September 8, 2020 - 2:34pm
USC Shoah Foundation’s Immersive Innovations team headed to Mexico in March of this year to spend a week with Holocaust survivors Dolly and Julio Botton. The couple, who have been together for more than 50 years, were part of the Institute’s first collection of videotaped testimonies back in the 1990s.
Tuesday, July 28, 2020 - 5:41pm
I was laying in bed one day scrolling through Instagram, lost in the endless stories that have me so addicted to my phone. I skipped some and lingered on others, navigating the echo chamber of social media like a pro before coming across my local bookstore’s account. They were sharing books to read while their doors were temporarily closed due to Coronavirus. A vibrant yellow and blue cover with the words, A Nail The Evening Hangs On, caught my eye; it was a book of poetry — a rare purchase for me, but the nod to the poet’s Cambodian history pulled me right in.
Sunday, July 19, 2020 - 12:18pm
We asked you to submit your stories to us. Each week in April, we offered a new theme: spaces/places, family, resilience and messages for the future, and we asked for your stories. Your contributions were remarkable. We received dozens upon dozens of responses from around the world — from Morocco to Argentina to Switzerland, Israel, Canada, Poland and across the United States. Some of you shared that you even had family members in our archive.
Friday, July 17, 2020 - 10:25am
“You can’t just close your eyes and pretend that the history goes away,” says Mickey Shapiro the eldest son of two Holocaust survivors who just finished a four-year-long journey to create a film about his mother’s story. “I am stuck with this for life, but I think it makes me more motivated. When you hear a story like that from your parents, you want to make things better.”
Friday, June 5, 2020 - 7:06pm
The young woman stares at me as I wait to press play on the video. Her eyes are dark and her lips are pursed. You can see a bit of her thick black hair which is matted beneath an off-white, or perhaps a light-pink scarf. It is hard to tell the exact color in the shadowed room.
Monday, June 1, 2020 - 1:09pm
“I am ashamed to say this,” Ursula said to me. We were sitting in her lovely Los Angeles home in the middle of the day on a Saturday in February. All the lights in her house were off, but the blue skies outside graced her face, her 90-year-old wrinkles defined. “I was so stupid to believe that when Hitler died, that the world would come to the end.”
Tuesday, May 12, 2020 - 11:40am
My grandmother, Hana, taught me to be alone, to be able to sit in my space and observe all around. She taught me to describe what I see — the stacks of history books, cards sent from friends, photos of my family, vinyls stacked high, and the flowers from my last trip to the grocery store. She taught me to take an interest in the simple parts of life and to find symbolism and comfort in the mundane.
Wednesday, April 22, 2020 - 12:36pm