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Examining American Responses to the Holocaust: Digital Possibilities

A Virtual Conference - October 12-15, 2021

Hosted by the FDR Library and Museum, located in Hyde Park, New York

Submission deadline: March 26, 2021

Guiding questions:

  • What are the new developments in Holocaust research, especially American responses to the Holocaust?
  • How can that research be advanced by the latest developments in digital humanities?
  • How have Holocaust related archives, libraries, museums, and organizations utilized digital possibilities to change the way the public, researchers, educators, and students interact with their materials?
  • With increased antisemitism, anti-immigrant and anti-refugee sentiment, what are public institutions doing to connect the Holocaust to current events and how are they using digital resources to do so?


In April, 2017, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum launched the Morgenthau Holocaust Collection Project (MHCP), a multiyear, multiplatform initiative to expand awareness of underutilized primary source material on the Holocaust through digital publication, exhibits, and public programs. As part of this initiative, the FDR Library is organizing a conference that will examine the current state of Holocaust scholarship and the contemporary relevance of the US government’s response to the Holocaust, with a special emphasis on how the field of digital humanities and the increasing need for and access to digital research is changing the way Holocaust research is conducted and disseminated.

The public-facing virtual conference is scheduled for the week of October 10-15, 2021 and will be hosted by the FDR Library, located in Hyde Park, New York. The virtual conference will feature sessions held over a five-day period and will live-stream sessions. Registration is free; only those who register can ask questions and participate in the virtual conference. Those who are not registered will be able to view conference sessions online.

There may be an in-person, on-site component if conditions allow. This may be held at the same time as the virtual conference in October or sometime in Spring 2022, possibly as part of our annual Yom HaShoah programming in late April, 2022.

Who are we looking for?

This interdisciplinary conference aims to bring together scholars, graduate students, historians, archivists, museum and library professionals, digital humanists, educators, writers, those working in non-profit organizations, and the public to explore the contemporary relevance and impact of Holocaust Studies, Digital Humanities, and Digital Archives. The organizers welcome proposals for workshops, open forums, panels, roundtable discussions, lightning round, and think-tank sessions (described below).

Our goal is to develop a program with a diverse range of voices represented, including in terms of gender, race, religion, age, profession, expertise, topics, and skill sets. We encourage proposals from emerging scholars, early-career as well as established professionals who wish to build networks between fields which may not normally interact.

Suggested Topics include but are not limited to:

  • New intersections between Holocaust Studies and Digital Humanities - Digital Tools for Holocaust Studies
  • Gender and sexuality as it relates to the Holocaust
  • How Archives, Museums and Historic Sites present Holocaust-related content
  • Ethical issues of memory, privacy, and legacy as survivors and other witnesses to World War II pass away (transfer of memories and archives from analog to digital)
  • Terminology:  Holocaust v. Genocide, deniers, victims, collaborators
  • War, concentration camps, and the so-called Final Solution
  • FDR and the Holocaust
  • Liberation of the Camps 
  • Refugee camps (including Fort Ontario, in Oswego, New York)
  • The War Refugee Board, Rescue and Relief organizations, and efforts/campaigns
  • The contemporary relevance of the WWII refugee crisis
  • Nuremberg and Crimes Against Humanity
  • Mass Media and the Holocaust

We encourage libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions to exhibit “collections as data,” or machine learning case studies, and to propose “datathon” or “transcribe-a-thon” ideas to host during the virtual conference.

How to apply

Those interested in participating in the conference should submit the following Google FORM by March 26, 2021. This is the only way that you can apply to present. The google form will ask you for the following information.

  1. a title
  2. the type of session you are proposing (see list below)
  3. topic, either from the list above or your own
  4. an abstract providing an overview of either your individual presentation or one for the whole session (500 words max)
  5. an explanation of how the presentation will use multi-media and what A-V needs you may have, if you would be able to record your own presentation or if you would need assistance
  6. a biographical statement, brief C.V., or link to biographical info (such as a Linked-In page or website) for each presenter, moderator/chair/respondent.

If you are submitting an individual presentation proposal please indicate if you would like to be part of a panel. The advisory committee will do its best to coordinate panel development. We support the use of multimedia, and encourage you to prerecord short presentations (5-10 min) to set up discussion. The Library can assist in video production if needed. This Google spreadsheet can be used to connect individuals seeking ideas and/or collaboration on session proposals. However, keep in mind that in order to apply for the conference you must submit the google form. Selected presentations may be asked to submit their work for inclusion in either a printed volume or online resource as part of the Morgenthau Holocaust Collections Project.

If you have any questions, you can contact Dr. Abby Gondek, Morgenthau Scholar-in-Residence, agondek@rooseveltinstitute.org

Description of types of sessions:

Workshops involve engaging participants in an activity in which they produce something or learn a new skill relating to the digital humanities and the Holocaust. Examples: datathon or transcribe-a-thon, collections as data demonstrations, teaching participants to use data visualization or mapping tools.

Open forum discussions create a series of specific and focused questions (including from registered participants) for discussing a specific topic and include at least one moderator and several people (speakers) who would speak briefly on the topic to get the conversation started. Ideally these speakers would each present a different point of view on the given conversation topic.

Panels include 3-4 speakers with a moderator. Each panelist has approximately 10-15 minutes to present. The moderator introduces and closes the session, keeps time and fields questions during a Q&A at the end.

Roundtables provide opportunities for more speakers than a panel, the presentations are shorter and allow more interaction among panelists and audience members. There should be a moderator/facilitator for the conversation. Traditionally organized around a circular table, this is more of a conversation than a lecture. Speakers (limit 5-6) should prepare shorter presentations (5-7 minutes) and there should be more time for discussion afterward between speakers and audience members/participants.

Lightning sessions provide opportunities for even more participants than a
roundtable, and the presentations are shorter. The goal is to create as many diverse
perspectives on a topic as possible and to foster discussion and connections. These types
of sessions can have up to 7-8 speakers. Each person will have approximately 3-5 minutes to present.

Think tanks include a chair who will welcome attendees and frame the key
question at the heart of the session. This can be supplemented by very
short presentations by other facilitators describing different aspects of the issue at hand.

Keynotes/Lectures are a more formal, single-person presentation featuring a significant subject and a well-established speaker.


Special thanks to:

The Krupp family for generously funding this conference.

Peter Kalikow for generously funding the MHCP online research portal


The Morgenthau Holocaust Collection Project is supported by the following individuals and organizations:

Arthur M. Handler
Charlie Knapp
Cumming Foundation (Jesse Grant)
Douglas Leibhafsky
Frank M. and Barbara W. Tuerkheimer
Fredrica and Jack Goodman
Friends of Morgenthau (Robert M. Morgenthau)
Henry Morgenthau
James D. Zirin and Marlene Hess
JKW Foundation
John A. Catsimatidis
Marina P. and Stephen E. Kaufman Foundation (Stephen E. Kaufman)
Michael W. Mitchell
Otto G. Obermaier
Patton Boggs LLP (Daniel Murdock)
Richard Bernstein
Righteous Persons Foundation
The Bernard and Anne Spitzer Charitable Trust (Eliot Spitzer)
The Bernard W. Nussbaum Family Foundation (Bernard W. Nussbaum)
The Judy and Michael Steinhardt Foundation (Michael Steinhardt, Thomas H. Baer)
The Melinda and William J. vanden Heuvel Foundation (William J. vanden Heuvel)
The Tom and Andi Bernstein Fund (Tom Bernstein)
The Widgeon Point Charitable Foundation (John R. Robinson)
Thomas L. Pulling

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