Launch of a new digital project on the stories of the Holocaust in Nebraska | Nebraska today


As Nebraska lawmakers debated the future of Holocaust education in the state this spring, a team from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln developed a multidisciplinary digital humanities research project titled “Nebraska Stories of Humanity: Holocaust Survivors and World War II Veterans.”

The project features the stories of five Nebraskanians who survived the Holocaust or helped liberate concentration camps and then shared their experiences with friends, neighbors and school children across the state. Individuals featured are survivors Bea Karp, Hanna Rosenberg Gradwohl and Irving Shapiro and liberators Clarence Williams and Maurice Udes.

Led by PhD candidate Beth Dotan from the Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education, in collaboration with the Center for Digital Humanities Research, the portal went live on April 26.

“The site tells their stories through letters, documents, photos, maps and other artifacts, all annotated and organized by individual,” Dotan said.

Interactive maps, as well as full-text search capability, will help users explore the world war II experiences of these people.

According to Andy Jewell, professor at University Libraries and co-director of the CDRH, millions of people have used the many digital projects developed by the center during its nearly 20 years of existence. Every project is different and presents its own opportunities and challenges.

“‘Stories of Humanity’ makes a distinctive contribution by bringing together artifacts and stories that capture how the lives of our neighbors intersect in major world events,” Jewell said. “I think Beth’s approach will make these stories meaningful to learners in a new way, and I’m glad the CDRH was a partner in the development of the site.

For the past two years, Dotan and Laura Weakly, a specialist in encoding metadata in the CDRHworked with a team of UCARE and library students to scan, crop and organize nearly 900 documents, photographs, postcards and letters. The students encoded the text elements according to the guidelines of the Text Encoding Initiative and entered the metadata of the objects and photographs into a spreadsheet.

This experiential learning gave students a hands-on opportunity to improve their research and digital skills and learn about these historical people. The Creative Activities and Undergraduate Research Experience Program helps Husker undergraduate students work one-on-one with faculty researchers.

Carrie Heitman, associate professor of anthropology at the School for Global Integrative Studies and associate director of the CDRH, and Gerald Steinacher, James A. Rawley Professor of History, acted as advisers on the project. the CDRH The team includes Karin Dalziel, Will Dewey, Sarita Garcia, Andy Pederson and Greg Tunink.

Another important project partner is faculty advisor and co-principal investigator Ari Kohen, Schlesinger Professor of Social Justice and director of the Norman and Bernice Harris Center for Judaic Studies, who said he was thrilled to see the project spread. in the larger community.

“This is one of those great examples of what the University of Nebraska is able to offer the public,” Kohen said. “This web portal of stories and artifacts will be accessible to everyone, and the digitized materials are not available anywhere else.”

In addition to the Husker team, a stakeholder group, led by organizations that contributed information and materials to the project, provided educational guidance and a connection to the community.

“Stakeholder vision has given the site legs and connects us directly to donors who are members of their organizations,” Dotan said. “This networking is already translating into new partnerships inside and outside the university setting.

Dotan said future work on the portal will focus not only on expanding the collection with additional stories, but will focus on educational components to support instructors and researchers using the portal. They will build inquiry models to connect with the requirements of the Nebraska Social Studies Standards, recently adopted by the Nebraska Department of Education.

The Nebraska Legislature recently passed Legislative Bill 888, introduced by Senator Jen Day of Omaha, which was signed by Governor Pete Ricketts. The bill requires the National Board of Education to adopt education standards on the Holocaust and other acts of genocide. In accordance with this new legislation, “Nebraska Stories of Humanity” will be an excellent resource for Nebraska teachers, students and the public wishing to learn more about the Holocaust.


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