The World Memory Project, which is set to build the world’s largest online database of information on victims of the Holocaust, has been launched.
The joint venture by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and Ancestry.com announced Tuesday is recruiting the public to provide information on Jewish victims of the Holocaust and millions of non-Jews who were targeted for persecution by Nazi Germany and its collaborators.
The World Memory Project will greatly expand the accessibility of the museum’s archival collection, which contains information on well over 17 million people targeted by Nazi racial and political policies, and enable millions to conduct online searches, project organizers said in a statement.
“Through our partnership with Ancestry.com, we hope to remind the public that the Holocaust is not about numbers but about individuals just like us and to help families uncover histories they thought were lost,” said Sara Bloomfield, the U.S. museum’s director. “The museum’s vast archives contain documentation that may be the only remaining link to an individual life. Preserving these personal histories and making them available online is one of the most powerful ways we can learn from history and honor the victims.”
Ancestry.com, which hosts its own online archival project, will provide proprietary software and manage the digitizing of the documents.
On Monday, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee made a collection of its records and photographs from the Holocaust period available online. The JDC project, which is not part of the World Memory Project, will feature a database of more than 500,000 names and photos from 14 countries where the JDC operated during and after World War II.
Users can search the names database compiled from historic documents and JDC client lists from operations in Barcelona, Shanghai, Kobe, Vilna, Australia, South America and the JDC Emigration Service in Vienna and Munich. Photo galleries are available from Austria, Belgium, China, Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, the Dominican Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Morocco, Lithuania, Portugal and Spain.
The JDC is inviting members of the public to tag photos and share their JDC stories from the Holocaust era.
A group of volunteer genealogists helped the JDC Global Archives create the database and will add new names each week, the JDC said.
“For six decades, the vast majority of this data has been available only to professional researchers,” said JDC CEO Steven Schwager. “Now, thanks to technology, survivors and their descendants can directly engage with our shared history.”