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USC Shoah Foundation
Visual History Archive (VHA)


More than 51,000 video testimonies of Holocaust survivors and other witnesses, recorded in 56 countries and in 32 languages.

Enter the Visual History Archive

In Brief:

  • Stanford students, faculty, and staff have unlimited on-campus and very limited remote access to the Visual History Archive (VHA).
  • Please note: You must be on the Stanford campus in order to view the testimonies on the Visual History Archive. A wireless connection is usually not adequate.
  • Non-Stanford people who wish to use the VHA at Stanford must contact HDIS to make arrangements prior to their visit. Also please review these instructions for guest access to Green Library and visitor parking at Stanford.

System Requirements

  • PC users:
    • Windows XP/Vista
    • Windows Media Player 9 (or newer)
    • Internet Explorer 6 (or newer), or
    • Firefox 3 or later (requires Windows Media Player Plugin)
      • Note that the required Windows Media Player Firefox plugin is not available on many Library computers.
  • Mac users:
    • Mac OS X 10.4 (may be incompatible with 10.5)
    • QuickTime 7 (or newer)
    • Flip4Mac WMV Components for QuickTime
    • Safari 3 (or newer)

Important Notes

  • A one-time registration with the USC Shoah Foundation is required of both Stanford and non-Stanford patrons before using the collection. See the VHA registration page for instructions.
  • Because of the large file sizes of these video testimonies, you will have to wait for most requested videos to become available for viewing. The waiting period is often less than an hour, but may be up to 48 hours.

Initial Searching in the Visual History Archive

To begin searching you will need to:

  • Go to the VHA Website
  • Log in with your VHA username and password (requires that you first Register with the VHA)
  • Choose either Quick Search one of the three Advanced Search modes:
    • Quick Search. Search for a word that may appear as a personal name, an indexing keyword (or a synonym), or an interview code.
    • People Search . Search for a specific person by first and/or last name.
    • Biographical Search by Experience Group . Search for testimonies of people within nine specific experience groups (i.e. Jewish Survivors, War Crimes Trials Participants, etc.).
    • Global Keywords Search . Search for segments of video testimonies that discuss specific topics, using more than 30,000 geographic and experiential keywords. This search mode is particularly useful for narrowing a large set of testimonies that you previously saved into a particular subset of interest.

To save a search you will need to:

  • Select the save to project button. This will bring you to the Projects page, where you must choose between the following two options:
  • Saving your search results to a new project, that you will be asked to name, or
  • Saving your search results to an existing project, which will add the testimonies to an existing project file, not replace that file.

To begin a new search you will need to:

  • Select the new search button on the bottom left corner of the search screen, or
  • Select the Search tab from the archive menu across the top of the screen.

Ordering a Video Testimony

Videos may take up to 48 hours to access.

When your search results in a video segment that is “Viewable w/i 48 Hrs.,” you will see the following message in the video player on your screen:

This video is available but must be transferred to your site's local cache server to be viewed. To request a transfer, click Request Video. Transfers may take up to 48 hours. You will receive an automatic email telling you when the video is available, or if the video transfer failed.

When you click Request Video, the testimony will be downloaded from the Foundation's central digital video storage (at USC) to the local Stanford University cache. You will be notified by email, at the email address you provided at registration, once the segment is available for you to access.

At present, most videos requested in this fashion are available in well under an hour; however, this download time may be longer depending on user demand or other network traffic.

Subsequent VHA Searching

To perform subsequent searches once you have logged off the archive, you will need to:

  • Log on : enter the username and password that you created at registration, and
  • Choose Quick Search or one of the three Advanced Search modes to begin a new search, or
  • Choose Projects to view previously saved searches, or
  • Choose Projects to search within a previously saved search.

VHA Search Tips

F11 button improves view.

Select the F11 button to have the VHA completely fill your monitor screen.


Use the light blue buttons on the bottom of the screen to move through your search: new search, back, reset, next, enter, and save to project . Use the tabs provided on the top of the screen to navigate the archive: About the Shoah Foundation, Registration, Search, Search History, Projects, Site Map, Help, or Feedback.

Search History.

When searching, a Search History section on the left side of the screen indicates the number of testimonies currently resulting from your search. You can make use of this information to guide your search decisions, to further narrow your search if a large number of testimonies appear, or to go back and broaden your search if too few testimonies have resulted from your query.

Citing VHA Materials

The USC Shoah Foundation Institute’s recommended citation standard for scholarly works is:

Interviewee’s first name, first initial of interviewee’s surname, date of interview, followed by “Interview by USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education, University of Southern California,” location of interview, tape number(s), and time code, if applicable.


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Last modified: June 4, 2010

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[an error occurred while processing this directive] June 4, 2010