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Library Research Guides

USC Shoah Foundation's Visual History Archive

Archive makes available over 52,000 video testimonies of survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust and other genocides.

For More Help

For more help with searching the archive, please see the Advanced Searching tab, and/or the User Manual (PDF File, below).

Advanced Searching

For a complete guide to the searching features and functions of the Archive, visit

The Visual History Archive is only available to computers on the U-M network. If you are off-campus, you can search for, but not view, testimonies via the USC Shoah Foundation's Visual History Archive Online.

Technical Requirements

Please note: You must be on the U-M Ann Arbor campus in order to search and view the testimonies on the Visual History Archive. A wireless connection may not be adequate.

PC Requirements

  • Windows Vista, 7, or 8
  • Windows Media Player 11 or above
  • Google Chrome; Internet Explorer 9 or above; or Firefox 22 or above (requires Windows Media Player Plugin)

Macintosh Requirements

  • OS X 10.6 or above
  • Safari 5.1.1 or above; or Google Chrome
  • QuickTime 7.7.3 or above

VHA Searching

Initial Searching:

To begin searching you will need to:

  • Register : create a username and password that you will use to log on to the archive;
  • Choose either Quick Search one of the 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.

Biographical Search by Experience Group . Search for testimonies of people within experience groups (i.e. Jewish Survivors, War Crimes Trials Participants, etc.).

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.

• People Search . Search for a specific person by first and/or last name.

• Places Search . Search for testimonies about geographic locations by browsing, searching, or by using an interactive Google Map.


To Save a Search:

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 the file.


Starting a New Search:

  • 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.

VHA version 6.1 now allows you to share or password protect your projects, as well as bookmark, delete, copy, move, print and export results to Excel or .XML.


Subsequent 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 four 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.


Search Tips:

F11 button improves view.

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

Use filters to narrow your search.

VHA 6.1 allows you to perform searches with a particular gender, language and other categories.

Navigation buttons.

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 Us, Search, Search History, Projects, Help, or Contact.

Search History provided.

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.

Video segments 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 on the left side of your screen: “Depending on traffic, downloading the video for this testimony will take up to 48 hours. To download, click here. You may continue searching while the video is downloading. Check back later for access.” Select click here to request that the testimony be downloaded from the Foundation's central digital video storage location to the local University of Michigan's cache. You will be notified by email, at the email address you provided at registration, once the segment is available for you to access.

Search Results.

Mouse over the interviewee icon for printable biographical information before going on to the viewing screen.