The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum was established by an act of Congress that mandated the creation of a "permanent living memorial to the victims of the Holocaust." It is the material that belonged to those victims and survivors and other materials that relate their stories, experiences, and histories that form the basis of the collection of the Museum. Many of the objects in the Museum's collection have been donated by individuals who directly experienced the Holocaust or by their families, and those objects are often imbued with tremendous emotion, personal meaning, and historical importance. The Museum's Office of Collections is responsible for the acquisition, conservation, and maintenance of the nation's physical evidence of the Holocaust. Combining both published and unpublished materials, the Office collects, preserves and makes available to the public the historical record of the Holocaust and supports the Museum's wide-ranging efforts in the areas of research, exhibition, publication, education, and commemoration.
The Collections Services Division oversees the registration, preservation and storage of the Museum's collections and coordinates loan programs to other accredited museums for exhibition purposes. To learn more about official loans of items in the Museum's collection, please review these guidelines.
The Curatorial Affairs Division is responsible for the cataloging, reference, reproduction and access services of the Museum's thousands of unpublished archival collections. Its six different branches identify, collect and preserve a wide range of Holocaust-related materials created in different formats: The Archives, Art and Artifacts, Film and Video, Music, Oral History and Photo Archives. Each of these units coordinates the use of various collections for exhibitions, publications and the website based on the preservation and access needs of each medium.
The vast majority of the Museum's collections were created before the digital era. This division coordinates the digitization process and procedure for both issues of preservation and access. Many of the individual items available online, and the entire collections present on the website are by this group. To search collections that are online or digitally available, please consult this guidance.
This division collects information about survivors and victims of the Holocaust, creates research tools and other resources, provides reference services to the public, and ensures that personal experiences of Holocaust survivors and victims are recorded and preserved for future generations.
The Library is responsible for all of the Museum's published materials including monographs, memoirs and academic journals, as well as historic newspapers, feature films and documentaries, commercially available music and educational products. The library also provides online resources and reference services for the assistance of patrons conducting remote research. To begin a research project, review an online bibliography of your topic located here.
Unpublished archival collections in government and institutional repositories across the globe contain evidence of the Holocaust and its lasting impact. This massive documentary record shows the enormity of the crimes and their implications, however that evidence is endangered and the dispersal of materials hinders expedient and productive use by researchers and survivors alike. The International Archival Programs Division of the Museum works to locate and acquire documentary collections across the globe to preserve them and provide access for scholars, survivors and the general public. Learn more about their initiatives and recent activities here.
Central to the mission of the Museum is the program to collect, preserve, and make available to the public the historical record of the Holocaust.The focus of the Museum's collecting efforts, and, therefore, the Collection, is on the policies, events, and experiences associated with the Holocaust and is largely focused on period documentation. More specific information on the subjects and holdings of the Museum's collections can be found here.
In a race against time to rescue the evidence of the Holocaust before the eyewitness generation is no longer with us, the Museum is reaching out to Holocaust survivors, their descendants, and others to locate personal collections, conduct oral history interviews, and gather names of both survivors and victims before this information is lost forever. If you would like to donate materials relating to your family's history during the Holocaust or to support this initiative, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, fill out and return the attached PDF form, or complete the online form. Thank you for your interest in the Museum.