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Drexel Library

Using the USC Shoah Foundation's Visual History Archive: Search the Archive

For Drexel University Students/Faculty/Staff

On-campus students/faculty/staff:

The Archive is available from any computer connected to the Drexel wired or wireless network. This includes Drexel University Libraries locations, Drexel University buildings, and dorms. Due to the bandwidth required to satisfactorily view the streaming video of the testimonies a wired connection is recommended.

Please review the Terms of Use before you begin.

Search the full Archive at

Off-campus students/faculty/staff:

Please connect to the Drexel network using VPN before clicking on the Archive link at Instructions for connecting to the VPN are here:

Vistors to Drexel

You can search the indexing data associated with all the testimonies, from any location, through the Institute's Visual History Archive Online (VHA Online) application. In addition, about 1,200 English-language testimony videos are fully viewable in the VHA Online. You will be asked to create a free user account to use the application.

Visitors wishing to view testimonies beyond the 1,200 available in Visual History Archive Online will need to visit the W.W. Hagerty Library to gain access to the full collection. Please make an appointment at least one week in advance of your visit by emailing 

As only a limited number of testimonies are available for immediate viewing, please include the Interview Code for any particular testimony you would like to view in your appointment request email. The Interview Code is available when you click on the interviewee's name and select the Biographical Profile link (see below) or when you hold your mouse pointer over the interviewee's photograph in the search results list.

locating Interview Code

Search Help

For the complete user guide (PDF) for the Visual History Archive, click here.

Getting Started:

Create a free user account or log in if you have already created one. The user account allows you to create, and add to, custom projects to collect testimonies to return to them later. The user account and the email address that you provide at the account creation also allow you to request testimonies that are not already part of Drexel's local collection.

Choose a collection to search. The default is all collections. You will also be able to choose to search just Holocaust/World War II era testimonies collected by the USC Shoah Foundation or just Rwandan Tutsi Genocide testimonies from either the Kigali Genocide Memorial or the USC Shoah Foundation, or both.

Quick Search using a keyword search, similar to any internet search engine search, or use indexing terms, names, or interview codes. You will be able to limit your search to All Words, Any Words, or Exact Phrase.

Advanced Searching:

Advanced searching is available by Experience Groups, Index, People, and Places.

Experience Groups include Jewish Survivors, Homosexual Survivors, Jehovah’s Witness Survivors, Liberators and Liberation Witnesses, Political Prisoners, Rescue and Aid Providers, Sinti and Roma Survivors, Survivors of Eugenics Policies, War Crimes Trials Participants, Tutsi Survivors, and Rescuer and Aid Providers (Rwandan Tutsi Genocide).

Index Search uses a menu to select terms from the USC Shoah Foundation Institute’s Thesaurus. You can search for a term, or browse the hierarchy of terms to find the best match for your interest. Clicking on a term causes its definition to be displayed. Multiple terms can be added or removed from the search and can be linked with the Boolean operators AND and OR. Filter options based on collection, language, gender, experience group, and projects can be selected on the left side of the screen to limit the results.

index search screenshot

People Search enables you to search by first and/or last name of interviewees, including maiden names, nicknames, and any other aliases, if given. People Search also searches on names of other people who were provided by the interviewee during the interview process. Phonetic searching is possible.

Places Search allows you to either select locations on an embedded map, browse a hierarchical list of locations by region and country, or search for a particular place name.

places search screenshot


Video Availability: By default the Archive returns results with those immediately viewable on the Drexel network listed first. Only a subset of the testimonies will be immediately viewable. The remainder of the digitized testimonies can be available within 48 hours. If the result for the video you want says "Video Viewable within 48 hours" you can ask that the video be downloaded to Drexel University Libraries local cache by clicking on the name of the interviewee and then clicking on the "Request Video" button in the center of the viewing area. You will be notified by email when the video is ready for viewing.

VHA results list with video access highlighted

Projects: Projects are an easy way to select testimonies for later, or repeat viewing. You can name your project and give it a description. Projects can also be shared with others.

Saving to Projects: After clicking on the interviewee's name you will be able to add the testimony to a project by clicking "Save to Projects" on the lower right side of the screen. You will be prompted to create a new project or select one of your existing projects.

More Help:

For more help using the Archive or if you have comments or questions about the resource, contact Larry Milliken, Liaison Librarian for the Humanities/Social Sciences. Chat help and additional contact information are available on the upper right of this guide.


Subject Guide