Association of Holocaust Organizations convenes at the Institute: Winter seminar focuses on future of survivor testimony

Tue, 01/08/2013 - 12:00am

Representatives from more than 30 Holocaust museums and centers in the United States and Canada came to Los Angeles this week for the 2013 Association of Holocaust Organizations (AHO) Winter Seminar, hosted for the first time by USC Shoah Foundation – The Institute for Visual History and Education.

The three-day seminar began on January 7 and included more than 10 sessions on the theme “Testimonies: Preservation, Access and Education for the 21st Century.” Stephen D. Smith, Executive Director of the Institute, was the keynote speaker and one of several Institute staff members who led sessions; other presenters included Wolf Gruner, Shapell-Guerin Chair in Jewish Studies and Professor of History at USC; Holly Willis, Director of Academic Programs for the Institute for Multimedia Literacy and a Research Assistant Professor in the USC School of Cinematic Arts; and Steve Anderson, Associate Professor of the Practice of Cinematic Arts, USC School of Cinematic Arts.

Issues surrounding the preservation and dissemination of Holocaust survivor testimony are of high importance to AHO members; many have testimony collections in their holdings, some of which predate the founding of the Institute. One major concern is data rot, which makes all physical storage media eventually become unusable (the life expectancy for tape stock is about 20 years). In 2008, the Institute pioneered an effort to digitally preserve its 51,696 testimonies using technology that has become standard for the preservation and distribution of motion pictures. Having completed this multimillion-dollar effort last year, the Institute is now sharing its knowledge with other AHO members. More on the preservation project