USC Institute of Armenian Studies Gala Event to Salute USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Armenian Genocide Digitization Project
(LOS ANGELES, CA, March 1, 2012) – “Don’t Let Their Voices Be Forgotten” is the message that the USC Institute of Armenian Studies’ Leadership Council is sending as it invites a cross section of highly respected community leaders and benefactors to a gala banquet on April 15, 2012, in honor of the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for championing the Armenian Genocide Digitization Project.
The USC Shoah Foundation Institute, established by Steven Spielberg in 1994, has nearly 52,000 video testimonies of survivors and other witnesses of the Holocaust in its Visual History Archive. The Institute is beginning to work with partners around the world to expand its archive with existing and new testimony collections from survivors and witnesses of other genocides. The J. Michael Hagopian/Armenian Film Foundation archive of nearly 400 filmed survivor and eyewitness testimonies will be the first collection in the Armenian Genocide Digitization Project.
The goal of the USC Institute of Armenian Studies’ Leadership Council is to bring together digital copies of all of the collections of interviews with Armenian Genocide survivors and eyewitnesses, essentially creating what may become the largest archive of Armenian Genocide eyewitness interviews.
In addition to honoring the USC Shoah Foundation Institute on April 15, the USC Institute of Armenian Studies’ Leadership Council will salute the late humanitarian Armin T. Wegner and the late Armenian Film Foundation founder and documentary filmmaker J. Michael Hagopian.
A German with a doctorate in law, Wegner served as a volunteer nurse during World War I. Witnessing the massacre of Armenians in 1915, he took the haunting photographs that today stand as a reminder of the heinous crimes of the Ottoman Turks. His work documenting the horrors of the Armenian Genocide and, subsequently, his open letter to Adolf Hitler denouncing the persecution of the Jews has made him a human rights hero.
Hagopian’s first filmed interview with a witness to the Armenian Genocide was with Wegner, in 1966. That interview is one of the 400 survivor and eyewitness testimonies that will be included in the USC Shoah Foundation Institute’s Visual History Archive.
The USC Institute of Armenian Studies’ Leadership Council continues to play a primary role in bringing together and enhancing the Armenian community. Ads have been placed in all Armenian community newspapers in Southern California, and invitations and press kits were mailed before the close of February.
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On April 13, 2010, the USC Shoah Foundation Institute signed a historic agreement with the Armenian Film Foundation and Dr. J. Michael and Anoinette Hagopian. The agreement paves the way for the Institute to preserve the Armenian Film Foundation's collection of nearly 400 interviews with survivors and other witnesses of the first major genocide of the 20th Century: the attempt by the Ottoman Turks to annihilate the Armenian people, in 1915.
Dr. J. Michael Hagopian, a filmmaker and a survivor of the Armenian Genocide, began conducting interviews with other survivors in 1968. In 1982, the Armenian Film Foundation—which Hagopian established to support the motion picture documentation of Armenian heritage and life—expanded the project in 1982. Hagopian and the Foundation conducted interviews in 10 countries, and while the majority of interviews are in Armenian (some in rare dialicts) or English; others are in Arabaic, French, German, Greek, Kurdish, Russian, Spanish, and Turkish.
"As a preliminary step towards including Armenian Genocide survivor testimonies in the archive, our agreement with the Armenian Film Foundation is a major milestone," said USC Shoah Foundation Institute Executive Director Stephen Smith. "This project will help preserve evidence of a genocide that must be acknowledged. It will honor the memory of those whose lives were taken, and it will ensure that future generations are able to learn from individuals who experienced the Armenian Genocide firsthand."
The signed agreement is the first step in the process to digitize, index, preserve, and disseminate the testimonies collected by Dr. Hagopian and the Armenian Film Foundation. Once the process is complete, the testimonies will become accessible through the Institute's Visual History Archive, which contains nearly 52,000 video testimonies of Holocaust survivors and other witnesses. Funds must be raised before work will commence.
Album posted on: May 13, 2010