The USC Shoah Foundation Visual History Archives is an unparalleled resource of some 53,000 individual testimonies of survivors of the Nazi Holocaust, the Rwandan genocide, the Nanjing massacre and the Armenian genocide. Cornell will mark the launch of its access to the archive Tuesday, Nov. 3, with a talk by noted New Yorker columnist and Rwandan genocide expert Philip Gourevitch ’86.
The lecture, titled “Memory and Genocide,” will be held at 5:30 p.m. in Lewis Auditorium, Goldwin Smith Hall. A public reception will follow at the A.D. White House.
The archive will be available online for research and classroom use to Cornell faculty, student and staff, and available on-site to those without a Cornell ID. Access to the archive will be through the Cornell University Library, and programming associated with the archive, such as the Gourevitch lecture, is a collaboration between the library and the Jewish Studies Program in the College of Arts and Sciences.
“Making these unique testimonies and other material accessible through Cornell enhances the university’s ability to support comparative international and historical scholarship of the highest level, as well as to advance education that encourages humane and ethical behavior and may allow us to avoid future genocides,” said President Elizabeth Garrett, who will speak before the Nov. 3 lecture. “The archive will strengthen our ability to provide important resources to our campus communities, K-12 schools and to the wider public.”
Others offering remarks at the Nov. 3 launch include Robert Katz ’69, Cornell trustee emeritus and former board chair of the USC Shoah Archives, who was instrumental in bringing the archive to Cornell, and Gretchen Ritter, the Harold Tanner Dean of Arts and Sciences.
“The archive access is a significant new resource for Cornell and offers a way to stimulate discussions across many disciplines centered on the complex relations among memory, identity, technology and politics,” said Jonathan Boyarin, the Hendrix Director of Jewish Studies, the Diann G. and Thomas A. Mann Professor of Modern Jewish Studies and professor of anthropology. “We are looking forward to the conferences and other exchanges this resource will doubtless provoke.”
Anne R. Kenney, the Carl A. Kroch University Librarian, said: “This collection greatly enriches the library’s holdings on Jewish studies, the Holocaust and genocide across the globe. For example, it complements the Law Library’s Donovan Nuremberg Trials Collection, which includes the transcripts of Nazi war criminal trials after World War II, and the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections’ Tuol Sleng confessions and photographs from the early 1990s, documenting genocide in Cambodia.”
Gourevitch is the author of “We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories From Rwanda” (1998), which won numerous awards, including the National Book Critics Circle Award and the George K. Polk Book Award, and “You Hide That You Hate Me and I Hide That I Know: Living With It in Rwanda” (2014). His books have been translated into more than a dozen languages. He has been a regular contributor to The New Yorker since 1995 and a staff writer since 1997. Gourevitch has also written for Granta, Harper’s and The New York Review of Books; he has served both as New York bureau chief and as cultural editor of The Forward. In 2005, Gourevitch was named editor of The Paris Review, succeeding the late George Plimpton.
Gourevitch’s lecture is sponsored by the Jewish Studies Program, the Cornell Library, and the College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Office.
Linda B. Glaser is a staff writer for the College of Arts and Sciences.