Skip to Main Content
Go to Penn Libraries homepage   Go to Guides homepage

USC Shoah Foundation Institute's Visual History Archive: History | VHA at Penn

History of the Visual History Archive

Established in 1994 by Steven Spielberg to collect and preserve the testimonies of survivors and other witnesses to the Holocaust, the USC Shoah Foundation Institute created one of the largest video digital libraries in the world: over 54,000 video testimonies in more than 30 languages and from over 56 countries. The Institute is part of the Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences at the University of Southern California; its mission is to overcome prejudice, intolerance, and bigotry – and the suffering they cause – through the educational use of the Institute’s visual history testimonies.
The Institute works within the University of Southern California and with partners around the world to advance scholarship and research, to provide resources and online tools for educators, and to disseminate the testimonies for educational purposes. In addition to preserving the testimonies in its archive, the Institute is working with partner organizations to help document the stories of survivors and witnesses of other genocides.
For more information, visit the Institute’s website,

The VHA at Penn

Penn's participation with the Visual History Archive is supported jointly by the Penn Libraries, the Annenberg School for Communication and Penn Information Systems & Computing.
The Penn collection:
All testimonies that have been collected by the USC Shoah Foundation Institute's Visual History Archive are available through the Penn VHA database.  A brief description taken from the USC guide to the VHA is included here:
The USC Shoah Foundation's Visual History Archive contains 54,405 interviews with witnesses of the 1915 Armenian Genocide, the 1937-1938 Nanjing Massacres, the Holocaust, 1975-1979 Cambodian Genocide, 1978-1996 Guatemalan Genocide, the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, the ongoing Central African Republic conflict, and contemporary antisemitism. Originally consisting of the Holocaust testimonies recorded by the USC Shoah Foundation, the Visual History Archive now includes testimonies shared by other organizations, including the Armenian Film FoundationFlorida Holocaust Museum, Fundación de Antropología Forense de Guatemala, Holocaust Memorial Center Zekelman Family Campus, Holocaust Museum Houston, JFCS San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties, the Kigali Genocide Memorial, and nine Canadian organizations (Alex Dworkin Canadian Jewish Archives; Calgary Jewish Federation; Concordia University Centre for Oral History; Freeman Family Foundation; Jewish Archives of Edmonton and Northern Alberta; Living Testimonies, McGill University; Montreal Holocaust Museum; Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre; and the Ottawa Jewish Archives).
Additional information is available here.
Penn Libraries Home Franklin Home
(215) 898-7555