RootsTech 2014

Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Friday, December 20, 2013

Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Once I find something new (to me) and interesting (again to me), I keep looking. The next discovery was the Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive of the University of Michigan. Here is a selection from the site discussing its origins:
Since 1981, Dr. Sidney Bolkosky, Professor of History at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, has interviewed Holocaust survivors. The University's Mardigian Library has been the repository of these interviews. It has been our privilege to provide a forum for those voices, "listening ears," as one survivor notes, and the facilities to record the testimonies. As a University of distinction, the campus has demonstrated its dignity and character because of the respect it has accorded the tapes and the people who made them.

This archive represents a gurantee of honest presentation--unembroidered, without dramatization, a scholarly yet austerely moving collection of information and insight. We have been and are engaged in rescuing fragments of fragments of memory. We have done that quietly, without fanfare, but with integrity and quality. Because of that, the project is what it is, does not need any hype or dramatization. It speaks for itself--literally.

Those who have had access to the tapes--including scholars, psychologists, historians, and more than 1,000 students--have found themselves riveted to their tape recorders or VCRs. Now the collection, as it grows, has obtained a potentially larger audience: copies of all the interviews rest in the archives of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum; copies of the videotapes are in the Yale Video Archives and the Holocaust Memorial Center in West Bloomfield, MI. Through the work of many individuals, that audience is now international and unbounded, crossing continents and oceans, disciplines, and professions. There have already been inquiries to the campus from Australia and Munich as well as Ann Arbor and Flint, Michigan. ....
It makes me sad to realize how much some people in genealogy are missing. I was talking to a lady at the Maricopa County Public Library when I did a presentation there recently. She was obviously a Holocaust Survivor and was very emotional and bitter about her inability to find information about her family. Unfortunately, when I tried to talk to her, she assumed I could not help and walked away.

Now obviously, all of this information is not online but there are connections and references to the material, especially the material residing in university libraries around the world. You may not find your particular ancestor, but you may find a neighbor, a friend, or even someone who lived in the same small town or village. You may find what you are looking for where you least expect it. As the professor said, what is available "does not need any hype or dramatization. It speaks for itself--literally."

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