The University of Pennsylvania is launching a new digital partnership with the USC Shoah Foundation Institute that makes available on Penn's campus all of the video testimonies of Holocaust survivors and other witnesses collected by the foundation.
Penn is currently the only site in the state where individuals have access to the 52,000 video testimonies that have been recorded in 32 languages and collected in 36 countries. The archives have been up and running for several weeks.
Members of the general public can visit the Penn libraries to access the online material.
Penn President Amy Gutmann told the Jewish Exponent that the collaboration came about through a chance meeting in Philadelphia a year ago with director Steven Spielberg.
In 1994, Spielberg created the foundation in the wake of the release of his film Schindler's List.
"It will be up forever," Gutmann said of the archives. "As long as the University of Pennsylvania exists, we will have this archive."
Gutmann is slated to take part in an April 23 event demonstrating the new archives. She said the project is especially salient for her because her late father fled Nazi Germany in 1935.
"I am tremendously grateful that there are these archives that allow histories like my father's to live on and to be part of an educational and research and teaching mission," she said.
Gutmann added that it's very easy to search through the material. In fact, she tried it out and searched the name "Gutmann," saw a list of all the Gutmanns who provided testimony, and watched several hours worth.
The archives, she said, will benefit Penn students as well as advanced scholars.
"I have no doubt that it will be incorporated into course work and I have no doubt that Penn students will draw on it for papers for a vast range of courses," she said. "Bringing the Shoah Foundation to Penn, for me and for the university, is an incredible step forward."