» Is there a tutorial for IWitness?
You can watch a short video demonstration of IWitness
» Where can I get answers to questions about using the video editor, managing
my students & groups, using the search function and more?
You can visit our Help page for answers to general questions regarding how to use
» How do Educators register for a free account?
IWitness has a simple one-step registration process where educators complete the registration form to create their free account.
Community Guidelines, educators will be able to start using IWitness immediately. Note: All registrations are subject
to verification. Our IWitness team may be in touch to confirm your role as an educator if additional information is required.
We recommend using your school email address to ensure a quick verification.
» I've received a "Request for Additional Information" from email@example.com. Do I have to respond?
All Educator registrations are subject to verification. Please reply to that request with the additional information required to support
your application as an educator. Registration as an EDUCATOR is available to formal and informal educators around the world (classroom
teachers, librarians, administrators, after school program educators, homeschoolers, museum professionals, etc).
We will send you a few reminders, but if you do not reply with the requested information after one month, your Educator account will be
deactivated. You can always contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
» What kinds of testimonies will I find?
Working with partners around the world, the Institute shares the expertise it
has acquired through the collection, indexing, preservation, and dissemination
of the testimonies that are currently in the Visual History Archive.
The Institute’s Visual History Archive currently contains video testimonies
from the 1915 Armenian Genocide, the 1937 Nanjing Massacre in China and the
1994 Rwandan Tutsi Genocide. Soon to be added are testimonies from the
Cambodian Genocide of the late 1970s and the Guatemalan Genocide of the early
This comprehensive collection of testimonies spans the better part of a century
and delves into mass atrocities that occurred on four continents.
» Who conducted the interviews and when were they done?
The largest number of testimonies –- 52,000 –- was collected by USC Shoah
Foundation between 1994 and 1999. In recent years, other collections of
testimonies have been added to the Visual History Archive. These testimonies
were taken independently or in conjunction with USC Shoah Foundation. They
include about 1,400 interviews conducted by the Jewish Family and Children’s
Services of San Francisco starting in 1980. The 400 interviews in the Armenian
Genocide collection were filmed by Dr. J. Michael Hagopian from 1972 to 2005
and were provided to the Institute by the Armenian Film Foundation.
For its collection from the Rwandan Tutsi Genocide, USC Shoah Foundation worked
with the Kigali Genocide Memorial, starting in 2009. Testimonies from the
Nanjing Massacre were taken in conjunction with the Nanjing Massacre Memorial
Hall starting in 2013. Cambodian testimonies were collected by USC Shoah
Foundation and the Documentation Center of Cambodia in 2009. And the Guatemalan
collection were taken with La Fundación de Antropología Forense de Guatemala, a
Guatemalan forensics organization, starting in 2014.
» Are all of the USC Shoah Foundation's testimonies available to
search and view on the IWitness site?
No. IWitness contains more than 1,500 of the nearly 52,000 total interviews in the USC Shoah
Foundation's Visual History Archive.
» Do I have permission to share or use portions of the testimonies?
make derivative works using the editing tools provided on the site.
» How long is each testimony?
Testimonies vary in length depending upon the depth and details provided by the
survivor. The average length of a testimony available on the IWitness site is 2
hours 45 minutes. With regards to the entire archive of nearly 52,000 testimonies,
the average length of a testimony is approximately 2 hours.
» How can I search the testimonies?
You can search for testimonies in a variety of ways. You can browse testimonies
that have been grouped by topics. Or you can search for testimonies using specific
terms or keywords. Once a term is entered into the search box, a list of suggested
matches appears in a drop-down box. As you place your cursor over each keyword term,
a box appears with the number of clips matching that term along with a definition
of the term. This will help you determine the most effective terms to use for your
» How are my search results presented?
The search results screen provides a thumbnail photo of each interviewee, with the
relevant keywords highlighted. There are several tools on the search results page
that allow you to sort and filter results in a variety of ways.
» What is a clip?
A clip is a part of a whole testimony. Most testimonies are indexed into one-minute
clips which can be retrieved by the user through keyword searches. Approximately
one in five testimonies within this collection were indexed using clips that are
longer than one minute. For these testimonies, the actual clip length can range
from one minute to nine minutes. Not every clip has keywords attached.
» Why do some clips have keywords and other clips have none?
Keywords are attached to one-minute clips when a topic is discussed or described
in some detail. If the discussion or description spans several clips, the relevant
keywords are usually applied once. Keywords may appear at the beginning of the discussion,
in the middle of the discussion, or towards the end of a discussion. New keywords
appear when the topic of conversation changes.
Approximately one in five testimonies within this collection were indexed using
larger clips than one minute. For these testimonies, the actual clip length can
range from one minute to nine minutes. Each clip in these testimonies usually has
» Can I search for a person if I don't know exactly how to spell his or her
The IWitness resource does not employ Soundex, so when searching for a person, you
may need to try several different spellings of the name. You can also try a portion
of the name, such as "Got" for "Gotfryd" or "Gottfried."
» What does it mean if the person's name I find has asterisk (*) after it?
An asterisk (*) indicates that the indexer was unable to verify the spelling of
this person's name from either the Pre-Interview Questionnaire or the video interview
itself, e.g. Shlomo* Weiss*.
» I see a survivor from Warsaw (Poland) is marked as born in Russia. Why is
In order to maintain consistency, the Shoah Foundation uses cataloguing guidelines
based on time periods. Some countries' borders and names changed after World War
I and again after World War II. To keep the information in the archive historically
accurate, the date of birth determines the country name catalogued for the country
Example: If a survivor states that he was born in Warsaw in 1909, the country of
birth is indexed as Russia. Poland came into existence as an independent country
only after World War I.
» How can I search for a city name if I don't know how it was spelled during
the prewar era?
City names and other geographic locations, including ghettos, camps, administrative
units (such as states or provinces), countries, etc., may be searched for using
preferred terms or variant spellings. For example, today the prewar city Lwów
is known as L'viv. Either spelling may be used to find the city name for your search,
as well as several other variants. You may need to try several different spellings
to find the appropriate term.
» What does it mean if there is a "(u)" in front of a keyword?
A "(u)" in front of a keyword means "unverified," i.e. that the existence of that
place (city, ghetto, camp) or resistance group could not be verified by the USC
Shoah Foundation's research staff using the sources at hand.
» What does it mean if a specific location has (generic) after it?
The word "(generic)" appearing after a city, ghetto, or camp name indicates that
more than one known location with the same name exists. When the indexer or researcher
was unable to verify the specific location referenced in the testimony, a generic
term was used. For example, the keyword Auschwitz (Poland : Concentration Camp)
(generic) was used when it was unclear whether the interviewee was referring to
the concentration camp Auschwitz I, the death camp Auschwitz II (Birkenau), or the
labor camp Auschwitz III (Monowitz).
» What are the technical requirements to use IWitness?
Please download technical requirements here
» Can I use IWitness on my iPad or other mobile device?
Yes, IWitness can be used on an iPad, with the exception of the video editor.
The iPad-compatible version of IWitness has additional functionality to streamline the user experience.
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