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Visual History Archive: About the VHA

Testimonies of Holocaust survivors and other witnesses of genocide.

About the VHA

The USC Shoah Foundation was established in 1994 by Steven Spielberg to collect and preserve the testimonies of survivors and other witnesses of the Holocaust. The Foundation maintains one of the largest video digital libraries in the world: nearly 52,000 video testimonies in 32 languages and from 56 countries.

In April 2013 and in February 2014, the Visual History Archive expanded to include 65 testimonies from eyewitnesses of the 1994 Rwandan Tutsi genocide and twelve testimonies from eyewitnesses of the 1937-38 Nanjing Massacre, respectively. In 2015, the USC Shoah Foundation's Institute for Visual History and Education joined forces with La Fundación de Antropología Forense de Guatemala (FAFG), a Guatemalan forensics organization, to collect video testimonies of survivors and witnesses of the Guatemalan Genocide, which killed some 200,000 civilians in the early 1980s. [From the Shoah Foundation website.]

The purpose of oral history testimony is not only to gather facts, but also to gain a deeper understanding of events as they were lived and filtered through personal reflection. Unlike most documentation from this period - written by the perpetrators – oral testimony gives a voice to the survivors and other witnesses, allowing them to speak directly about their personal experiences. The USC Shoah Foundation testimonies are unedited, primary sources of information. Each interview consists of a single survivor or other witness speaking about his or her life before, during, and after the war, guided by questions from a trained interviewer. The interviews average two and a half hours in length.  [From the VHA website.]

Please note: Visitors to Stanford must be on the campus in order to view the testimonies on the Visual History Archive. Visitors are welcome to Green Library up to seven times per year, any time during library hours. For further information and assistance, please contact Jewish Studies librarian Eitan Kensky