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Jewish studies: USC Shoah Foundation - Visual History Archive

Introduction to Monash University Library resources for Jewish studies

Visual History Archive at Monash University

Monash University is the first Australasian university to provide access to the Visual History Archive of the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education. This access is made possible through the generous support of Lee Liberman and the Pratt Foundation.

With a collection of nearly 52,000 video testimonies of Holocaust survivors and other witnesses, in 32 languages and from 56 countries, this is the largest visual history archive in the world. The Institute interviewed Jewish survivors, homosexual survivors, Jehovah’s Witness survivors, liberators and liberation witnesses, political prisoners, rescuers and aid providers, Roma and Sinti survivors (Gypsy), survivors of Eugenics policies, and war crimes trials participants. 

The Institute relies upon partnerships in the United States and around the world to provide public access to the archive and advance scholarship in many fields of inquiry. Since March 2007, more than 2,000 interviews recorded in Australia are now cached on Monash University servers, and are immediately available for teaching and research. All other interviews are made available within 48 hours of your request.

Log in to Visual History Archive

The Visual History Archive (VHA) is available to all Monash staff and students with their Monash username details - both on and off campus.

The Archive is also available to members of the public at the visitor's workstation in each branch of the Library.

Please refer any in-depth enquiries about searching the database to the Arts Contact Librarian at your campus.

Register, log in and search the VHA

In order to access the VHA, you will be prompted to enter your Monash username and password. Once you have logged in with your Monash username and password, you will need to register to access the VHA. You should choose a different username and password from that of your Monash username and password when registering for the VHA.

Technical requirements:

Windows Media Player 11 or above

Types of Testimonies

Testimony experiences

Initially a repository of Holocaust testimony, the Visual History Archive has now expanded to include testimonies from the Armenian Genocide that coincided with World War I, the 1937 Nanjing Massacre in China, and the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.

Holocaust/World War II era, 1939-1945

Jewish Survivors; Rescuer and Aid Providers (Holocaust); Sinti and Roma Survivors; Liberators; Political Prisoners; Jehovah's Witness Survivors; War Crimes Trial; Forced Labourers


Bulgarian; Croatian; Dutch; English; French; German; Hebrew; Polish; Portugese; Russian; Yiddish; and many more.


The interviews were conducted around the world, including: Australia; Belgium; Canada; Denmark; France; Germany; Hungary; Italy; Mexico; New Zealand; Poland; Russia; Slovakia; United Kingdom; and United States.

Topics Covered

Some of the subject discussed during the interviews are the interviewee's background including their birthplace; the names of their parents and siblings; their Jewish background and religious practices; the kinds of prejudice they experienced or witnessed; concentration camps and ghettos; survival; rescue; and emigration or immigration.

Cataloguing & Indexing of Interviews

While there are no transcripts available for VHA testimonies, each has been indexed, following the creation of a thesaurus. This thesaurus is currently consists of over 55,000 terms - the majority of which are geographic in nature.

The pre-interview questionnaires, filled out by interviewers and interviewees, have also been indexed, providing the ability to search by biographical information.

Video indexing has also been undertaken - to complete this, each interview was divided into one-minute segments, with indexers using specially-assigned terms for times, places, people, and experiences. Thus, testimonies are able to be searched minute-by-minute - much like a book with an index specifying page numbers where certain topics are mentioned.

You may read further information regarding the USC's cataloguing and indexing of testimonies within the VHA here.


Please refer any in-depth enquiries by users about searching the database to the Arts Contact Librarian at your campus.


Visual History Archive Tips

Most interviews in the VHA are available to view immediately. However, there are some interviews that will need to be requested before they can be viewed. There will be an option to request the video on the webpage. You will receive an email notifying you when the video has been uploaded for your use. Please note that this can take up to 48hrs to become available. Once you have received your notification email, simply log back in to the VHA, find the video you requested using a search term like the interviewee's name, and the video will be available for you to view.

On the Archives Help page, there is a PDF version of a user guide which gives you hints and tips on searching the database

There are 5 different ways in which to search the VHA, you can use a keyword quick search in the provided search box, or you can choose one of the 4 advanced search options.

Quick Search
The quick search allows you to search for keywords on an area of interest.

You can select your desired search type by using the option buttons available under the search box
All Words: searches for testimonies that includes all of your keywords

Any Words: searches for testimonies that includes any of your keywords

Exact Phrase: searches for testimonies that includes all of your keywords as it appears in the search

The Search box also includes a spelling suggestion feature which will drop down under your search terms

Advanced Search
There are 4 different advanced search options:

- Experience Groups: search for testimonies based on biographical information

- Index: the testimonies are split into segments, you can find particular segments through searching or browsing indexing terms (such as captivity or forced labour)

- People: can search for a testimony of a particular person, or search for the mention of someones name

- Places: search for the location of where the testimony took place, or locations mentioned during the testimonies

For tips on how to search each of these advanced search options use the VHA user guide

Citing VHA testimonies

Common referencing styles used for History are in-text, and footnoting. Please check with your Lecturer or Tutor as to which style you should use for your essay - common styles are Chicago and Monash Harvard.

No matter which referencing style you use, VHA audiovisual testimonies should be considered as interviews published online. You will find guidelines regarding the referencing of this type of source for your particular style on the Citing & Referencing Library Guide.

Chicago Example - Follow the 'Interview Published (Online)' format:

Rule:     Note Number. "Title of Interview," by Interviewer's First Name Last Name, Publication Title/Website Title, Interview date, URL.
Example:      1. "Simon Aizenberg", by Ruth Osborne, USC Shoah Foundation - Visual History Archive, 18/07/1995,


Monash Harvard Example - Follow the 'Transcript, Television, Online' format:


 Interviewer's Last Name, First Initial, Year, 'Interview Title', Collection/series title, format, Organisation, date viewed, URL.
Example: Osborne, R (1995), 'Simon Aizenberg', Visual History Archive, online interview, USC Shoah Foundation,   08/09/2014,