Strassler Center offers access to Shoah Foundation visual archives

Clark University among 25 institutions worldwide linked to 52,000 Holocaust testimonies

Clark University, through its Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, is among 25 institutions worldwide with access to the University of Southern California’s Shoah Foundation Institute’s Visual History Archive, founded in 1994 by Steven Spielberg to collect and preserve the testimonies of survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust.

"Digital access to the Shoah foundation archives is an unparalleled research tool for our students, faculty, and friends," said Mary Jane Rein, executive director of the Strassler Center. "Thanks to the generosity and vision of [Clark Board of Trustees member] David Strassler, our Rose Library now does double duty as an archive."

The Shoah Foundation Institute is part of the College of Letters, Arts & Sciences at USC and maintains the extensive Visual History Archive, one of the largest video digital libraries in the world: nearly 52,000 video testimonies in 32 languages and from 56 countries. The Institute mission is "to overcome prejudice, intolerance, and bigotry —and the suffering they cause— through the education use of the Institute’s visual history testimonies."

Margaret Hillard, administrative assistant at the Strassler Center, and graduate student Joanna Sliwa, attended an International Digital Access, Outreach and Research Conference, held at USC on March 25 and 26, as part of an effort to foster inter-institutional collaboration and innovation toward expanding the archive’s educational impact.

"These archives hold a lot of potential, and we expect they’ll gain extensive use here at Clark," Hillard said. The archives also serve as a community resource, she added. "Family members can browse and watch their loved ones’ first-hand accounts of the Holocaust."

Institutions that participated in the conference include: Brown University; Central European University; Charles University in Prague; Columbia University; Duke University; Florida Atlantic University; Freie Universität Berlin; Georgetown University; Monash University; Rice University; Rutgers University; Stanford University; Syracuse University; Texas A&M University; University of California, San Diego; University of Michigan; University of Minnesota; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; University of North Carolina at Greensboro; University of South Florida; University of Southern California; University of West Bohemia; United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; and Yad Vashem.

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. More information about the Institute and its current work is available at http://college.usc.edu/vhi/.

Since its founding in 1887, Clark University in Worcester, Mass., has a history of challenging convention. As an innovative liberal arts college and research university, Clark’s world-class faculty lead a community of creative thinkers and passionate doers and offer a range of expertise, particularly in the areas of psychology, geography, urban education, Holocaust and genocide studies, environmental studies, and international development and social change. Clark’s students, faculty and alumni embody the Clark motto: Challenge convention. Change our world. www.clarku.edu