Oral History Collection

The HDEC has the largest self-produced standardized Oral History Collection (OHC) of eyewitness testimonies (Testimonies/Testimony) in the world. As a result, there are over 2,500 Testimonies available for scholars and educational purposes. Testimonies are conducted by interviewers who have been trained to complete a structured interview via a 54-hour course which is university accredited. The HDEC has achieved international acclaim and recognition for maintaining its Oral History Collection of Testimonies. The United Nations, Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation, The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Simon Wiesenthal Center are among the prestigious institutions that have sought the HDEC’s expertise over the years to develop their own oral history projects and programs.

The Testimonies are produced in the HDEC in-house studio. Each Testimony interview may be several hours in length. There are many steps involved towards completion. The structured interviews are conducted with the utmost sensitivity. Each interview is transcribed, audit-edited and a careful proof-reading process is done to ensure accuracy. When this process is completed, the transcription is bound on acid-free paper. The transcription and audit/editing process is supported by the work of volunteers. It is important to note that the HDEC is the only known institution to date that is transcribing verbatim each in-house interview.

Oral History Collection
Oral History Collection

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The unique qualities of the HDEC Oral History Collection of eyewitness Testimonies are that the material is being:

  • Organized, preserved and cross-referenced for a worldwide audience of researchers
  • Used to educate new generations of young people about the dangers of bigotry and ethnic hatred
  • Preserved, highlighted and featured as the cornerstone of the first South Florida Holocaust Museum, that will tell the history of the Holocaust to our diverse community.

One of the major current projects is to digitize, index and catalog the Testimonies, enabling the creation of a unique database that can be queried for names, dates, locations, subject matter and other variables. The result of this process will be an invaluable tool for researchers and educators.

Thanks to our wonderful volunteers, the interviews are transcribed, audit/edited, foreign/edited, corrected, proofread and eventually these manuscripts are published into leather bound acid free books with an index and abstract.

Depending on whether the Testimony is audio or video format, a copy is provided to each interviewee as a CD or DVD, respectively. Requests for additional copies may be submitted and such requests will be reviewed pursuant to HDEC guidelines.

Please note, the HDEC is still accepting CD/DVD requests, but turnaround will be delayed due to COVID-19. 

The HDEC owns all copyright rights in and to the Oral History Collection, all of which have been registered with the United States Copyright Office.  

For more information on the Oral History Collection, please contact Louise, Oral History Coordinator at (954) 929-5690 x305 or documentation@hdec.org.