Frequently Asked Questions

Questions

Answers

» 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: http://iwitness.usc.edu/SFI/help.aspx

» 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 iwitness@usc.edu. 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 iwitness@usc.edu with questions.

» Who conducted the interviews and when were they done?

Between 1994 and 1999, the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation—now the USC Shoah Foundation—interviewed nearly 52,000 survivors and other witnesses of the Holocaust. After developing an interviewing methodology in consultation with Holocaust historians, psychologists, and experts in the field of oral history, the Institute trained 2,300 interviewer candidates in 24 countries, hired 1,000 videographers, and recruited more than 100 regional coordinators and staff in 34 countries to organize the interviewing process in their respective regions.

» Are all of the USC Shoah Foundation's testimonies available to search and view on the IWitness site?

No. IWitness contains 1,443 of the over 53,000 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 over 53,000 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: http://sfi.usc.edu/sites/default/files/docfiles/USC_SF_Thesaurus_101212_0.pdf. 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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