Visual History Archive
About the Archive
Between 1994 and 2002, the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation (now called the USC Shoah Foundation) conducted and recorded nearly 52,000 interviews with Holocaust survivors and other witnesses from 56 countries. In addition to survivors of Nazi persecution, the Foundation interviewed liberators and liberation witnesses, rescuers and aid providers, political prisoners, and participants in war crimes trials. Interviews were conducted in the survivor’s preferred language, and over 32 languages are represented in the collection. Those providing testimony were asked to describe their lives before, during, and after the Holocaust, and in many cases shared pictures and artifacts related to their experiences. Additional information about the interview process can be found on the USC Shoah Foundation’s Web site at http://sfi.usc.edu/ (external link).
Searching the Collection
Prior to visiting the Museum, researchers can search the VHA Online (external link) catalog to identify testimonies of interest in the Archive, while onsite users at the Museum can access the collection by following this link (external link). Onsite researchers may search for the interview of a specific individual, browse the catalog by experience group, or use certain keywords or geographic place names to find testimonies on a specific subject. A User Guide (PDF; external link) with detailed information about the search process is available on the Foundation’s website.
Accessing the Testimonies
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum provides access to the interviews from computers in the Library (on the fifth floor) and in the Holocaust Survivors and Victims Resource Center (on the second floor). Museum staff may also access the collection from their office computers by following this link (external link).
To see a list of other institutions that provide access to the Visual History Archive, go to http://sfi.usc.edu/locator (external link)
Transcripts, Translations, and Duplication
Transcripts are not provided for testimonies in the VHA collection. However, the interviews have been indexed and keywords assigned to each one-minute segment, allowing viewers to find testimonies on certain topics.
All interviews were conducted in the preferred language of the interviewee. The testimonies have not been translated, and no subtitles are provided. However, all index keywords are in English.
Interviewees and/or their family members may purchase copies of their own testimonies by contacting the USC Shoah Foundation directly. For more information about this service see https://sfiaccess.usc.edu/ (external link). Testimonies and educational materials for use in classroom settings can also be obtained from the Foundation.