Monthly Archives: April 2013

Online Resources: Holocaust and Genocide


The Shoah Visual History Archive is largest database of first-person Holocaust testimonies, founded by Steven Spielberg.  With over 50,000 testimonies from Holocaust survivors and liberators, carefully indexed in short segments for ease of searchability and use, the VHA is a tremendous resource for the history of the Holocaust.

Recently, the VHA has expanded to include other genocides, and now also holds 65 indexed testimonies of survivors from the 1994 Rwandan Tutsi Genocide.

To search the database, visit the Visual History Archive.  Once you create a username and password, you will be allowed access to the tremendous index within the database.  You can search by basic keyword, but also limit by qualifiers like "Warsaw" or 'ghetto bribery," to narrow your search and make it extremely specific.

Due to the large size of the database, the videos are not held locally at Columbia, but are uploaded upon request to a Columbia server.  Once you find a testimony that looks appropriate for your research, click on the link to "request this testimony."  You will receive an email notification when it is available for viewing. Because the uploaded videos are held on a Columbia server, the testimonies can only be viewed on the physical campus.  If you are not in New York, or can't get to Columbia, you can view testimonies at one of many access sites ( located around the world.

(Cross-posted on the Jewish Studies blog:

Columbia Acquires The Gay J. McDougall Papers on Southern Africa

Columbia University Libraries’ Center for Human Rights Documentation & Research is pleased to announce that it has acquired the Gay J. McDougall South Africa and Namibia Papers and the records of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Southern Africa Project.

Ms. McDougall served as the Director of the Southern Africa Project for 14 years and was the only American to be appointed to the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC). The IEC was the South African governmental body established through the multi-party negotiations to set policy and administer the country’s first democratic elections in 1994, resulting in the election of President Nelson Mandela and the transition from apartheid.

The McDougall papers contain unique documentation of the activities and decisions of the IEC from the perspective of a member of the Commission and reveal a day-by-day detailed picture of the challenges confronted by the commission in mounting South Africa’s first democratic elections.”For nearly two decades, I was privileged to have a front-row seat to one of the greatest human dramas of the twentieth century: the defeat of apartheid,” said Ms. McDougall. “I was also fortunate to be able to play a substantive role in that struggle. I hope that the donation of my papers to Columbia will increase the chance that future scholars will benefit from the lessons of that victory.”

The papers document a pivotal period between 1980-1994 when Ms. McDougall and lawyers in South Africa and Namibia collaborated on the defense of and gained the release of  thousands of political prisoners and detainees imprisoned during the struggle against apartheid in South Africa and Namibia. Among the papers is a collection of nearly 100 files on the trials of the political activists supported by the Southern Africa Project including non-confidential communications between Ms. McDougall and the lawyers representing those activists.  Additionally, the papers document Ms. McDougall’s role in the United States-based anti-apartheid movement and the international networking that took place among activists, including efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy. Other key events and topics reflected in the collections include the establishment of the Commission on Independence for Namibia, and the development of judicial and constitutional norms, institutions, and legislation during the post-apartheid transitional period.

The Gay J. McDougall South Africa and Namibia Papers include correspondence, memoranda, photographs, videos, ephemera such as election ballots, original local news coverage, and  Ms. McDougall’s diaries from trips to South Africa, Namibia and the Frontline States. Unique collections of publications by South African organizations including books, reports and briefing papers are also part of this remarkable collection. “Scholars and students researching the history of South Africa and Namibia during the final decade of apartheid and the transition years 1990-1994 will find that these papers are a treasure trove of information,” stated Professor Gail Gerhart, editor of the book series From Protest to Challenge: A Documentary History of African Politics in South Africa, 1882-1990.   “Columbia is privileged to receive this collection assembled by Gay McDougall, a major figure in the international antiapartheid movement.”

***Please note that research access to The Gay MacDougall Papers collection will not be possible until April 2014 or soon thereafter.

The Center for Human Rights Documentation & Research supports the community of teachers, students, researchers, and law and social justice advocates working in the multidisciplinary sphere of human rights.

For more about the Center::

For more information about the African studies collections at Columbia:

NEH Summer Scholars Named for “America’s Russian-speaking Immigrants and Refugees”

The Institute Selection Committee has named twenty-five Summer Scholars to take part in this June’s “America’s Russian-Speaking Immigrants & Refugees,” a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute for College & University Teachers, Co-Directed by Robert Davis of Global Studies and Edward Kasinec of the Harriman Institute.  The Institute takes place on the campus of Columbia University from June 9 to June 29, 2013.

Selected from a large pool of more than eighty candidates, Summer Scholars hail from fifteen states and a wide variety of  institutions: Vitaly Chernetsky, Miami University (Ohio); Tanya Chebotarev, Columbia University; David Chroust, Texas A & M; Phyllis Conn, St. John’s University (New York); Elena Dubinets, Seattle Symphony; Andrew Janco, University of Chicago; Bettina Jungen, Amherst College; Scott Kenworthy, Miami University (Ohio); Yakov Klots, Williams College; Natasha Kolchevska, University of New Mexico; Margarita Levantovskaya, University of California, San Diego; Matthew Miller, Northwestern College; Suzanne Orr, Sam Houston State University; Tatiana Osipovich, Lewis & Clark College; Karen Rosenberg, Independent Scholar; Claudia Sadowski-Smith, Arizona State University; Margaret Samu, Yeshiva University/Stern College; Erik Scott, University of Kansas; Vladimir von Tsurikov, Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary (New York); Kristen Welsh, Hobart & William Smith Colleges; Anna Winestein, Boston University; Natalie Zelensky, Colby College; and graduate students Michael Darnell, Columbia University; Jay Oppenheim, CUNY Graduate Center; and Roman Utkin, Yale University..

Over a three-week period, this select group will engage in a lively dialogue with an extraordinary array of upwards of fifty master teachers, scholars, and social services and community representatives of the last three waves of emigration (and with the children of the first).  The Summer Scholars will consider the substance of the terms “diaspora,” “transnational,” “accommodation,” and “memory” through the specific prism of the four distinct waves—First (1917-40), Second (1947-55), Third (1967-89), and Fourth (1989 to the present)— of Russian-speaking immigrants to America.  Can we create a sophisticated narrative synthesis of the “Russophone Experience” in America that could be integrated into broader courses on American politics and immigration, sociology, anthropology, and ethnic studies?  Could this synthesis be applied to the experience of other immigrant groups?

A full description, daily schedule, and application information is found at:  This site will be constantly updated in the weeks leading up to, and following the Institute period, and will eventually include video of daily roundtable presentations.