» Is there a tutorial for IWitness?

You can watch a short video demonstration of IWitness here .

» 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 IWitness:

» 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. After completing the form and agreeing to the Terms of Use and 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 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 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 1980s.

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?

By accepting the Terms of Use users have permission to access the testimonies and 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 search.

» 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 multiple keywords.

» Can I search for a person if I don't know exactly how to spell his or her name?

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 this?

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 of birth.
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).

» Is there a list of all the keywords used in all of the testimonies?

Yes, a master list of keywords used to index full archive of 52,000 testimonies can be downloaded here: It includes all the experiential keywords but not the geographic keywords.

» 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. Read more

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