USC Shoah Foundation and Fortunoff Video Archive at Yale University to Provide Access to Each Other's Collections

Wed, 05/02/2018 - 10:19am

Thanks to a new partnership between the USC Shoah Foundation Center for Advanced Genocide Research and the Fortunoff Video Archive at Yale University, researchers at both institutions can now access each other's extensive Holocaust archives.

Under the agreement, Yale University is now one of 95 access sites worldwide where the USC Shoah Foundation Visual History Archive is available. Yale University is the only institution in Connecticut where the interviews of the USC Shoah Foundation's Archive are accessible in their entirety. 

And USC becomes the first location on the West Coast to join 24 other institutions, including universities, museums and research institutes, to offer access to the Fortunoff Video Archive, a collection within the Manuscripts and Archives Department of Sterling Memorial Library at Yale University. It holds more than 4,400 video testimonies of Holocaust survivors, witnesses, and bystanders. Collection of the testimonies began in 1979. In addition to interviews conducted at Yale, 37 affiliate projects produced survivor testimonies for the Archive, working in over a dozen countries. The Archive includes interviews in 21 languages. 

The USC Shoah Foundation Visual History Archive is a collection of over 55,000 video testimonies of survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust and other genocides, including the Armenian, Rwandan, Guatemalan, Cambodian genocides and the Nanjing Massacres in China. Collection of the 54,000 Holocaust interviews began in 1994. The Archive includes interviews conducted in 64 countries and 42 languages.

"A pioneer in the videotaping of Holocaust survivor testimonies, the Fortunoff Video Archive is an invaluable resource for those who study the Holocaust," said Wolf Gruner, Founding Director of the USC Shoah Foundation Center for Advanced Genocide Research, Shapell-Guerin Chair in Jewish Studies and Professor of History. "Exchanging full access to our archives marks an important and exciting milestone not only for our two institutions but for academic research, as scholars at all levels of inquiry will benefit tremendously. This is an exciting time for us as we embark on this new partnership and expand the reach of the voices of all the survivors who shared their stories in our two archives."

Stephen Naron, Director of the Fortunoff Video Archive, said the partnership will enhance scholarship.

"My hope is that this is a first step towards further cooperation to enhance testimony discovery and access across collections," he said. "There are thousands of testimonies at dozens of institutions worldwide, but until now little work has been done to enable searches across collections – this complicates the location of testimonies by survivors' relatives and scholars alike. Exchanging collection access allows the Fortunoff Archive and USC Shoah Foundation to improve our ability to assist the students, scholars and families that rely on us to make these important collections available." 

In addition to providing full access to each other's archives, the USC Shoah Foundation Center for Advanced Genocide Research and the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies at Yale University are collaborating to develop cooperative projects that will encourage scholars to use the resources of both archives to advance academic research on the Holocaust and other genocides as well as integrate these testimonies into their university teaching.

About USC Shoah Foundation and the Center for Advanced Genocide Research

USC Shoah Foundation – The Institute for Visual History and Education, housed at the University of Southern California, within the Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, is dedicated to making audiovisual interviews with survivors and other witnesses of the Holocaust and other genocides a compelling voice for research, education and action. The Institute's Visual History Archive currently contains 55,000 eyewitness testimonies (over 144,000 hours of video footage) to preserve history as told by the people who lived it and lived through it. The Holocaust collection includes interviews conducted by the USC Shoah Foundation with Jewish survivors, rescuers, aid providers, liberators, Sinti and Roma survivors, political prisoners, Jehovah's Witness survivors, war crimes trial participants, non-Jewish forced laborers, eugenics policies survivors, and homosexual survivors. The Archive also includes interviews of conducted by local collection partners and other institutions. The USC Shoah Foundation Center for Advanced Genocide Research is the academic branch of the USC Shoah Foundation and is dedicated to advancing new areas of interdisciplinary scholarship on the Holocaust and other genocides via its academic program, which includes a fellowship program, annual conferences, and guest speakers. The Center supports innovative research on Resistance to Genocide, on Violence, Emotion and Behavioral Change as well as Digital Genocide Studies.

About the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, Yale University

The Fortunoff Video Archive traces its roots back to a grassroots organization, the Holocaust Survivors Film Project, which began videotaping Holocaust survivors and witnesses in New Haven, Connecticut in 1979. In 1981, the original collection of testimonies was deposited at Yale University, and the Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies opened its doors to the public the following year. Since then, the Fortunoff Archive has worked to record, collect, and preserve Holocaust witness testimonies, and to make its collection available to researchers, educators, and the general public. The Fortunoff Archive currently holds more than 4,400 testimonies, which are comprised of over 10,000 recorded hours of videotape. Testimonies were produced in cooperation with 37 affiliated projects across North America, South America, Europe, and Israel, and each project maintains a duplicate collection of locally recorded videotapes. The Fortunoff Archive and its affiliates recorded the testimonies of willing individuals with first-hand experience of the Nazi persecutions, including those in hiding, survivors, bystanders, resistors, and liberators. Testimonies are recorded in whatever language the witness prefers, and range in length from one-half hour to over 40 hours, recorded over several sessions.