Morgenthau Holocaust Collections Project: The Peter S. Kalikow Digital Scholarship Hub
Morgenthau Project digital initiatives are supported by Peter S. Kalikow, the Trustees of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library, the JKW Foundation, the Righteous Persons Foundation, the Krupp Family, John Catsimatidis, and many additional generous donors.
The MHCP strives to support new and deeper access to Holocaust-related archival collections by encouraging data-driven research and analysis. This digital scholarship hub is a prototype intended to share open data and emerging machine learning/artificial intelligence projects with the public while further research and experimentation with the datasets continue.
New: Morgenthau Diary Data Portal
The FDR Presidential Library teamed with Morgenthau Project partners at the Advanced Information Collaboratory (AIC) at the University of Maryland College Park’s iSchool to “datify” the historical Henry Morgenthau, Jr. Diaries. Together we crafted collaborative, interdisciplinary experiments in machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) designed to augment access to the digitized collection. Initial results include robust datasets available to digital humanities practitioners, and a new public interface for mining and visualizing data from the Diaries.
The new Morgenthau Diary Data Portal shares historical open data with the public, in the form of a customized, universal index to the Diaries of Henry Morgenthau Jr. This index shares information extracted from historical documents using optical character recognition (OCR), then further augmented by applying ML and AI techniques to identify, parse, arrange, and visualize topic terms, entities, and relationships. It provides a searchable gateway into a vast, complex collection of archival correspondence, meeting and telephone transcripts, memos and reports, that reveal significant insights behind the scenes of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Administration.
Work in Progress – The Diary Portal is a prototype interface intended to share open data with the public while further research and experimentation continues. Its index pulls together millions of data points collated and processed using an ML technique called named entity recognition (NER) applied across the original 871 “table of contents” entries found at the start of each separately-bound physical diary volume. So far, data from the full year 1944 has been cleaned and validated within the portal, forming a complete dataset for this key year in the American government’s response to the Holocaust, most notable for its establishment of, with Morgenthau’s help, the War Refugee Board. Further data validation efforts are ongoing, and new access and analytical features will be added over time. Future iterations may include ontologies extracted from natural language text, more linked data elements applied across the Diary content pages, and support for annotations/interpretive classification by digital humanities and Holocaust scholars. Project partners intend to seek and incorporate feedback from scholars and users of all kinds, so please contact us for more information or to offer suggestions.
- National Archives Datasets on the AWS Registry of Open Data. NARA released two datasets to the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Registry of Open Data: the National Archives Catalog dataset and the 1940 Census dataset. The AWS Registry of Open Data is a service provided by AWS to store open, public datasets for free so that they can be accessed and analyzed on AWS. With these datasets, users can now access the data in bulk versus searching or browsing the user interfaces for the National Archives Catalog and the 1940 Census website.
In-House Digital Scholarship
On April 24, 2017, the FDR Library formally launched a curatorial pathfinding initiative named in honor of Henry Morgenthau, Jr., FDR’s friend, advisor, Cabinet member, and head of the War Refugee Board. Morgenthau, whose incredible Papers and Diaries are part of the Library’s archival collection, was a key moral voice for the Roosevelt Administration.
The Morgenthau Project seeks to enhance access to lesser-known archival collections with high research value in Holocaust studies. The Library will digitize thousands of rarely accessed documents, and create new research and engagement tools for citizen-curators to use and share online. Digital curation, datafication, and digital analysis present exciting potential for complex inquiry, and can foster new historical argumentation based on primary source evidence.
The Library’s current Morgenthau Scholar-in-Residence, Dr. Abby Gondek of the Roosevelt Institute, has begun exciting digital explorations of the Henry Morgenthau Jr. Diaries and the Records of the War Refugee Board. These include the following:
Data Visualizations and Research Exhibits
- Analyzing Letters from the Public in Support of a Refugee Shelter at Fort Ontario, Oswego, NY
- Timeline of key events to establish the refugee shelter at Fort Ontario, Oswego, NY
- Jewish Refugee Children & the Establishment of the War Refugee Board, 1943-1944, a Path through the Morgenthau Diaries
- Jewish Organizational Conflict as Fuel for State Department Delays
Learn more about this emerging scholarship
- Video series: Updates from the Morgenthau Scholar in Residence
- Blog post: “Exploring the Archives
- Blog post: “Hidden Figures - Henrietta Stein Klotz: “The watchdog of the Secretary of the Treasury”
- #AtHomeWiththeRoosevelts video interview: Conversation with Abby Gondek
- #AtHomeWithTheRoosevelts video interview: Digital Research – How Data Shines a Light on our Past