Yale to Benefit from Mellon Foundation Grant

The Yale University Library will participate in a pilot project with the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, Rice University and the University of Southern California.

Supported by a generous grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the pilot project will make it possible for Yale to receive the Shoah Foundation’s digital video archive remotely via the Internet and will allow the universities to explore the scholarly uses of the archive in research and instructional programs.

In announcing Yale’s participation in the project, President Richard C. Levin noted, “We are well aware of the extraordinary value of survivor and witness testimony to the study of the Holocaust. Yale welcomes the opportunity to work with the Shoah Foundation and our colleagues at Rice and USC on this important initiative.”

University Librarian Alice Prochaska added, “This pilot will highlight the changing role of libraries in the 21st century and will emphasize the value of shared digital resources and our desire to integrate them more fully in teaching, learning and research.”

The pilot project is promoting the use of this important primary source-visual history testimonies-in curriculum offerings and research programs at the three universities. The project will help the institutions to understand better the opportunities and challenges of supporting faculty scholarship and teaching with electronic tools and digital collections. In addition, it will offer the Shoah Foundation the opportunity to test the scalability and usefulness of its digital library.

As home to the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, Yale University already holds one of the world’s leading resources for Holocaust research.

Providing access to both the holdings of the Shoah Foundation and the Fortunoff Video Archive presents an extraordinary research opportunity. Housed in Yale’s Sterling Memorial Library and building on efforts begun in 1979, the Fortunoff Video Archive has worked to record, collect and preserve Holocaust witness testimonies, and to make its collection available to researchers, educators and the general public. The Archive currently holds more than 4,100 testimonies, which are comprised of over 10,000 recorded hours of videotape. Testimonies are produced in cooperation with 37 affiliated projects across North America, South America, Europe and Israel.

Yale and the Shoah Foundation share the common goal of recording the testimonies of living witnesses to the Holocaust, just as they share the hope that these collections will be used for the education of future generations and for scholarly research. The three universities share a common interest in accelerating access to the Foundation’s collection in an online environment. In addition, each has been a leader in providing electronic sources for teaching and learning to its faculty and students.

A number of Yale faculty have expressed considerable interest in using both the holdings of the Fortunoff Video Archive and the Shoah Foundation testimonies as part of courses they will be teaching. This grant will allow the Yale Library to provide significant support for the integration of these testimonies into two courses and wide access to students and faculty on the Yale campus. Principal Investigator Richard Szary noted, “Yale is very pleased to be able to extend its commitment to supporting teaching and research in the Holocaust through the use of video testimonies from survivors and other witnesses. The collaborative project being supported by the Mellon Foundation will allow us to provide an even more comprehensive set of research resources for Yale and international scholars and to explore ways with our colleagues of making these testimonies more readily accessible for course use.”

The Yale University Library is among the world’s finest research libraries, with nearly 11 million volumes and extraordinary special collections matched by few other institutions. Well-known for the depth and breadth of its print and manuscript collections, the Library has been moving steadily to provide increased access to scholarly materials in electronic form.

The Shoah Foundation archive contains approximately 117,000 hours of videotaped testimony from Holocaust survivors and witnesses, recorded in 32 languages and 56 countries. Providing access to this remarkable archive has been a goal of the Foundation since its inception in 1994. Over the past two years the Foundation has developed partnerships with universities, scholars and research libraries in an effort to promote access to the archive.

For additional information, contact Richard Szary, Principal Investigator and Carrie S. Beinecke Director of Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library (richard.szary@yale.edu)

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Media Contact

Dorie Baker: dorie.baker@yale.edu, 203-432-1345