USC Shoah Foundation Institute Receives Grant from Jim Joseph Foundation to Support Increased Access and Use of Visual History Archive

Mon, 09/21/2009 - 12:00am
USC Shoah Foundation Institute receives significant grant.

Institute to Host International Conference

The USC Shoah Foundation Institute is the recipient of a significant grant from the Jim Joseph Foundation to support a worldwide initiative to broaden access to its archive and increase the educational use of the testimonies contained in the archive at institutions throughout the world.  The Institute’s archive, one of the largest video digital libraries in the world, is comprised of nearly 52,000 video testimonies of Holocaust survivors and other witnesses.

Currently, more than 20 institutions on 3 continents have access to the entire archive.  The Jim Joseph Foundation’s grant will permit the Institute to host the 2010 International Digital Access Outreach and Research Conference, the first gathering of colleagues from these institutions.  At the two-day conference, participants will engage in collaborative thinking and discussion about the current use of the archive, analyze how it can be an even more effective educational tool, and recommend strategies through which the Institute can expand the educational impact of the archive at institutions worldwide.

“Through this grant, the Jim Joseph Foundation recognizes the Visual History Archive as a unique and powerful resource for educators,” said Jack Slomovic, a member of the Jim Joseph Foundation Board of Directors.  “We hope our involvement will help the Institute and its colleagues make significant advancements in knowledge related to educational use of the archive so that students at every level, as well as scholars and researchers, may experience the full impact of the life stories of Holocaust survivors and other witnesses.”

The Institute seeks to disseminate the testimonies and drive their use in higher education, scholarship, and research; providing access to the archive at universities, museums, and other educational institutions is one of the most effective ways to work toward these goals.  To date, professors worldwide have incorporated testimony into 137 academic courses in disciplines ranging from cultural studies, anthropology, history, and political science to cinema-television, documentary film production, and communications.  Testimony has also become a resource for numerous research projects.

“The Institute is deeply grateful to the Jim Joseph Foundation for its support of this opportunity to explore and disseminate best practices around the use of the archive in higher education and research settings,” said Stephen Smith, Institute Executive Director.  “Access to testimony at universities and other sites is transforming how people reflect on the Holocaust and enriching studies in a variety of academic disciplines.  We have a great deal to learn from our colleagues at these institutions, just as there is much they can learn from one another; thanks to the Jim Joseph Foundation, such learning experiences will now be possible.”

About the USC Shoah Foundation Institute

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 and 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.  

About the Jim Joseph Foundation

The Jim Joseph Foundation, established in 2006, is committed to a sustained program of grant making in pursuit of a vision that leads to ever increasing numbers of young Jews engaged in ongoing Jewish learning and choosing to live vibrant Jewish lives.  The Foundation manages close to $1 billion dollars of assets, using all of its resources to foster compelling, effective Jewish learning for young Jews in the United States.

For more information, visit the Foundation’s website,