Virtual International Workshop - Personal and Family Archival Collections: Connecting the Pieces in the Complex Puzzle of the Holocaust Story

Hillel Solomon's picture
Type: 
Call for Papers
Date: 
December 14, 2021
Subject Fields: 
Archival Science, Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies, Jewish History / Studies

We would like to invite you to participate in a virtual international workshop on the significance
of personal and family Holocaust collections, organized by Yad Vashem – the World
Holocaust Remembrance Center, with the support and cooperation of EVZ – the Foundation
"Remembrance, Responsibility and Future", on 14- 15 December 2021.
The Foundation “Remembrance, Responsibility and Future” (German acronym EVZ) was
established in the year 2000 to pay compensation to former forced labourers during the period
of National Socialism. Since 2001, the EVZ Foundation has also granted humanitarian aid to
survivors, promoted a critical examination of history and human rights. The Foundation is
thus an expression of the continuing political and moral responsibility of the state, the private
sector and society as a whole for Nazi injustice and towards the victims.
Yad Vashem – the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, stands at the forefront of
Holocaust education, remembrance, documentation and research. The use of leading-edge
technological platforms maximizes accessibility to the vast information in the Yad Vashem
archival collections, making information and online educational initiatives available to an
expanding and dynamic global audience.
The joint EVZ-Yad Vashem workshops provide a platform for discussions of contemporary
questions, methodologies and programs related to Holocaust documentation, the challenges
of digitization/accessibility and uses in education.
Personal and family archival collections are essential to forming a more complete picture of
an historical period, shedding light on single events and personal stories. These collections
are often comprised of unique and diverse items (documents, photographs, film footage,
artifacts, press clippings, diaries, letters, etc.). Research of personal collections is a growing
field, important to a variety of users: historians, genealogists, educators, film producers,
museum curators, students and the general public.
Some personal and family collections are simply comprised of items in the possession of the
Holocaust survivors at the end of the war. Other collections are result of efforts on behalf of
the second and third generations to collect materials from family members in an attempt to
forge a family identity/heritage. When these collections are made accessible they become part
of the collective memory of the Holocaust.
Personal and family collections are often incorporated into the holdings of large Holocaust
archives, while the archives of many local Holocaust memorial institutions and museums
consist mainly or entirely of materials donated by individuals and families. Micro-archival
collections, maintained by families or individuals/researchers, are an additional source that
can contribute to the narrative of the Holocaust.

Focusing on the test case of Holocaust documentation, this workshop will address the
handling of personal/family collections in its various phases: from the collection process and
the connection with submitters of materials, through specific requirement in cataloging family
collections and ending with the unique challenges in making these collections accessible.
We will deal with questions and issues such as:

  • Micro and macro histories: What is the connection between family collections and historical
  • Holocaust archives? How do family collections, which may initially serve to memorialize individuals, contribute to the wider historical record of the Holocaust?
  • What challenges are encountered in the relationship between the submitter of the collection, the archivist and the user?
  • What are the boundaries of the collection and how can we control quality and credibility of the material?
  • How have digital technologies affected ideas of ownership and how does it reflect on family collections?
  • What specific ethical dilemmas/privacy issues arise concerning family/private collections?
  • How can we assure principles of provenance and maintain the integrity of the collection?
  • Personal collections as tools for telling a ‘complete’ story – physical and online curation of personal collections
  • How can we use family collections in educational initiatives, and what special challenges and opportunities do these collections provide? What needs to be considered when using family collections in digital educational tools like Apps, interactive cards or serious games?
  • How can Holocaust archives, by engaging with family collections, better adapt tools to the needs of user groups and develop outreach strategies?
  • Online accessibility - Initiatives and projects

The target group for this international workshop are Holocaust archival collection managers,
Holocaust archivists and researchers, experts in making Holocaust documentation accessible,
reference archivists, educators, and anyone dealing with Holocaust documentation.
Proposals are now being accepted for individual presentations.
Each accepted proposal will be allotted up to 15 minutes for presentation followed by
discussion. The workshop is geared toward group discussion by the participants on a variety
of topics throughout the entire workshop, with the aid of presentations, and guest lectures.
We reserve the right to select proposals appropriate for presentation at the workshop.
Additional applicants may be selected to participate in the workshop and its discussions
without giving a presentation.

The workshop will be conducted in English and will take place on Zoom and will held
over two days (approximately four hours each day).
Note that the workshop sessions will be recorded. We will request that participants who will be
presenting at the workshop send us their presentations and text. Our intention is to publish
portions of the workshop proceedings online.
Please send a short proposal of no more than 500 words and a CV (including all relevant
contact information).

Send proposals to
Ms. Naama Leibman Shilo: naama.leibman@yadvashem.org.il
and to
Mr. Hillel Solomon: hillel.solomon@yadvashem.org.il
The deadline to submit proposals is 20 October, 2021.
Notification will be sent via email by 17 November, 2021. 

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