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About the Archive :: History

In 1979, a project was undertaken by a television specialist, Laurel Vlock, and a survivor of the Holocaust, psychiatrist Dr. Dori Laub, based on the premise that the medium of video could be used successfully to document the personal memories of Holocaust witnesses. The effort was born of the conviction that time is running out and that every survivor has a unique story to tell. It was felt that the "living portraiture" of television would add a compassionate and sensitive dimension to the historical record.

This undertaking led to the formation of a grass roots organization, the Holocaust Survivors Film Project, Inc. It brought together survivors, under the leadership of William Rosenberg; academic consultants led by Yale Professor Geoffrey Hartman; and other community members committed to this urgent task. Their efforts resulted in an initial collection of almost 200 videotaped testimonies; "Forever Yesterday," an Emmy award-winning documentary produced with New York's WNEW-TV; and "About the Holocaust," a specially prepared documentary for secondary schools.

In 1981, all the original tapes were formally deposited at Yale University. The following year, with the aid of a start-up grant from the Charles H. Revson Foundation, the Video Archive was established as part of the University's Sterling Memorial Library, an internationally recognized research center. In 1987, Alan M. Fortunoff made a major gift to the endowment fund of the Archive.

For a detailed history of the Video Archive, please see the following document: A Yale University and New Haven Community Project: From Local to Global.