The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Ancestry.com have launched the World Memory Project, which will recruit the public to help to build the world’s largest online resource for information on Jewish victims of the Holocaust and millions of non-Jews who were targeted for persecution by Nazi Germany and its collaborators. The project will dramatically expand the number of Museum documents relating to individual victims that can be searched online.
The Museum’s archives contain information on well over 17 million people targeted by Nazi racial and political policies, including Jews, Poles, Roma, Ukrainians, political prisoners, and many others.
The Museum assists thousands of people worldwide every year that are searching for information about individuals in its collections. The World Memory Project will greatly expand the accessibility of the Museum’s archival collection and enable millions of people to search for their own answers online.
“The Nazis’ genocidal policies quickly turned millions of individual lives, filled with hopes and dreams, into massive statistics that are hard to comprehend. Through our partnership with Ancestry.com, we hope to remind the public that the Holocaust is not about numbers but about individuals just like us and to help families uncover histories they thought were lost,” says Sara J. Bloomfield, Director, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. “The Museum’s vast archives contain documentation that may be the only remaining link to an individual life. Preserving these personal histories and making them available online is one of the most powerful ways we can learn from history and honour the victims.”
The World Memory Project will utilise proprietary software and project management donated by Ancestry.com, which hosts its own online archival project to expand its transcribed records collections. Once transcribed, the indices will be hosted exclusively on Ancestry.com and permanently free to search. The Museum will also provide copies of documents to survivors and their families at no cost. The original documentation will remain in the Museum’s archival collection.
Individuals from anywhere in the world can help in this unique effort to make collections from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum available online by visiting www.worldmemoryproject.org and registering to become a contributor.
Since a beta launch in February 2011, Ancestry.com contributors have already indexed over 30,000 Museum archival documents that will soon be searchable at no cost by users around the globe. This figure will multiply as more people participate in the project.