USC Shoah Foundation Institute Website Powerfully Enhanced

The USC Shoah Foundation Institute at the University of Southern California (USC), an archive of nearly 52,000 videotaped testimonies from Holocaust survivors and other witnesses, has a newly redesigned website with user-friendly interactive exhibits, high resolution video testimony clips, and lesson plans which can be a great resource for public libraries, and public library customers.

USC Shoah Foundation Institute Executive Director Douglas Greenberg says the Institute’s work, particularly the new website, supports the efforts of California’s libraries. Greenberg says, “Ignorance is bigotry's greatest ally.  By sharing testimony clips of Holocaust survivors and witnesses online, the USC Shoah Foundation Institute and California's public libraries can bring communities together to discuss how to overcome intolerance and bigotry."

Effective tools for engaging customers

The USC Shoah Foundation Institute’s primary online resources, now in easy-to-use formats, encourage the public to watch, listen, think, and learn. The website’s accessible tools support people in discussing not just the Holocaust, but tolerance; and teaching tolerance is the mission of the USC Shoah Foundation Institute.

Library staff, educators and other community leaders can download interactive exhibits or lesson plans from the USC Shoah Foundation Institute website. The testimony clips are arranged by themes such as hiding, pre-war (normal life), post-war, camps, and ghettos, or arranged by the speaker’s experience group such as Jewish survivors, liberators, and political prisoners, among others. If libraries want to engage a targeted customer group, such as teens, the Institute’s interactive exhibits can be potent program tools. “Surviving Auschwitz” and “Children Speak” (survivors who were children during World War II sharing the timeless struggle for identity), for example, give users one-on-one encounters with survivors.

USC Shoah Foundation Institute beginnings, California State Library support

According to the USC Shoah Foundation Institute website, in 1994 the Academy Award© winning director Steven Spielberg, “inspired by his experience making Schindler’s List,” established the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation to gather video testimonies from survivors and other witnesses of the Holocaust. Thousands of volunteers with video cameras were trained to record survivor testimonies in 56 countries and in 32 languages. In 2000, after recording approximately 50,000 survivors, the videographers ceased their work and the Foundation team embarked on the huge task of archiving, indexing, cataloging, and digitizing the invaluable tapes.

To help users access this rich and priceless archive, in 2000/2001 the California State Library began a series of 5 annual LSTA grants to USC for work with the Shoah Foundation.  Those 5 grants, which totaled $865,458, supported the cataloging and digitizing of California Holocaust survivor testimonies and the eventual delivery of the collection to schools, libraries and other centers of learning via high-bandwidth media such as Internet2.

For more information about the Shoah Foundation Institute’s online resources, please contact USC Shoah Foundation Institute Marketing and Distribution Specialist Sonya Sharp at



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