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Unlocking Holocaust Testimony: Scholarship, Teaching, and Public History in the Digital Age

Tue, December 18, 10:15 to 11:45am, Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center, Amphitheater

Session Submission Type: Roundtable


This roundtable assesses the impact of recent digital initiatives to open Holocaust testimony collections to broader scholarly and popular audiences. Roundtable participants will discuss four central questions: How can digital tools transform perceptions and uses of Holocaust testimonies as historical sources? How do the ethics of researching and sharing testimony change in the digital sphere? How do institutional histories shape the possibilities for digital research across multiple testimony collections? Lastly, how can archivists and scholars harness digital tools and new media platforms to enrich traditional scholarship and teaching while facilitating broader, public engagement with testimony? The roundtable participants are scholars and archivists with extensive knowledge of multiple Holocaust testimony collections and the digital projects emerging out of these collections. Jiří Kocián, lead coordinator of the Malach Center for Visual History at Charles University, applies a phonetic full-text search tool to offer researchers more precise results when searching testimony collections compared to traditional metadata and transcript searches. Sarah Garibova, Assistant Teaching Professor at Pennsylvania State University, is an inaugural contributor to the Fortunoff Video Archive’s peer-reviewed, online series of annotated, critical editions of Holocaust testimonies, designed for classroom and popular use. Stephen Naron, director of the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies at Yale University, is leading a team of producers and scholars to launch a podcast series that will offer a unique way for non-specialist audiences to engage with oral history collections. Moderator, Sari J. Siegel, postdoctoral fellow at the Fortunoff Archive, has over fourteen years of experience utilizing the Fortunoff and USC collections, including for her current project on Jewish prisoner-physicians in Nazi concentration camps. Martha Stroud, Associate Director and Senior Research Officer for the USC Shoah Foundation Center for Advanced Genocide Research, facilitates multiple digital projects emerging out of the Visual History Archive, including the Holocaust Geographies Collaborative, which utilizes Corpus Linguistics methods to analyze testimony transcripts. Gabor Toth, postdoctoral fellow at the USC Shoah Foundation Center for Advanced Genocide Research, is curating a data edition of Holocaust testimonies with the goal of identifying the experiences of those who did not survive.

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