Community Heritage Grants: audio-visual digitisation keeping survivor voices alive

“Our collections team highly appreciates this funding,” says Manager of Collections & Research Dr Anna Hirsh. “It contributes towards audio visual materials that will make a lasting impact on the work of researchers and historians as well as increase local and international access.”

The National Library of Australia recently awarded us a 2021 Community Heritage Grant to support the digitisation of our audio-visual testimony collection. With these funds, we will build upon our preservation standards and, as a result, increase access and awareness of our Holocaust survivor testimonies. 

The voices of survivors are central to Holocaust remembrance and education. They impact the community by connecting with students through our education programs and speaking with other museum visitors at events. Local and global audiences can also access their stories within our internationally renowned Holocaust survivor testimony collection through programs like our Eyewitness Project. 

As time goes on, we think more about the challenges of losing direct access to these living witnesses of history. We can navigate the ever-closer ‘post-survivor era’ and protect their significant voices by creating improved digital access to their recorded testimonies

The Community Heritage Grant allows us to engage experts to transfer testimonies stored within dated, sometimes fragile, forms of technology, such as audio cassettes, into high-quality files and formats appropriate for the digital age. We are excited to take this critical step in ensuring our survivor testimonies, which capture biographical experiences and include vital information about historical objects, are preserved for and shared with the community in perpetuity.   

The Community Heritage Grants program provides non-profit community organisations such as libraries, archives, museums, genealogical and historical societies, multicultural and Indigenous groups with funding to preserve locally owned but nationally significant collections. The grant also aims to improve access to these collections. The Australian Government funds the program through the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications (Office for the Arts)National Library of Australia; the National Archives of Australia; the National Film and Sound Archive and the National Museum of Australia.

Financial assistance from leading cultural institutions like the National Library of Australia reinforces our ability to deliver our mission as a museum. Any support, large or small, enables us to keep the messages of Holocaust survivors living on for the benefit of future generations. 

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