Final Project: Holocaust Memory Online

Holocaust Memory Online

For my final project I created a blog titled “Holocaust Memory Online.” I originally wanted to write a research paper, but there were not enough sources to do that successfully. For this project I looked at TikTok accounts from four different Holocuast memorial institutions/sites, Neuengamme, Mauthausen, Bergen-Belsen, and Dachau. For my blog I wrote a total of six posts, and introduction, one post for each account, and a conclusion post. In the posts dedicated to each site I did a close reading of two TikTok videos and an introduction to the site and the people who make the videos. Overall it was a really interesting project and I learned a lot about these different sites from their videos! 

    Hopefully this project can be a helpful resource for people interested in Holocaust history, public history, or digital history! I think creating TikTok accounts for these memorial sites was a great tool during Covid-19 when visitors were not able to visit. I am curious to see if and how they continue to make TikToks. I also hope that people continue to study TikTok as an educational tool for historians and sharing history in general! 

    I am really glad I had the opportunity to do a project like this. Normally for history stuff I just write papers but this was a fun way to talk about history that wasn’t writing a long research paper. I feel like I learned so much from this class and I had a lot of fun taking it! I’d love to hear your thoughts on my project. Hope y’all have a great summer! 

Hi, making a quick update! I just heard back from the Neuengamme Memorial and have some interesting info to share! Firstly, all of their videos are a collaborative effort between volunteers, historians, and other departments at the memorial like the foundation, archive, etc. The videos are researched as a team and are proofed by a historian before they are posted. The most insightful bit from their response was about anti-Semitism. They use a filter to prevent anti-Semitic and hate speech from popping up in their comment sections, which is why I never saw any anti-Semitic comments. They also have a contact at TikTok to help with any tech issues like having videos banned because they deal with Holocaust material. So definitely an interesting realization. I think it’s great that they have a contact at TikTok to help with shadow banning and stuff and anti-Semitic comments, but it makes me curious about why this institution has these things but TikTok does not do that for all users. I am not sure how much work goes into it all, but if there is a formula/filter for hate comments….why isn’t it all over TikTok? Anyways that is my little update!

Practicum: Glitching Files

Glitch Text and Audio Practicum

Hi everyone 🙂 I hope you all had a nice spring break! This practicum project made me realize how little I actually understand about computers. I went into this practicum thinking it would be easy, but it was in fact more difficult than I expected and I fully had to watch a YouTube tutorial on how to change a file extension which was the first step of glitching. Anyways if I can figure it out, so can you!

         Okay so, the main takeaway from Trevor’s article was that knowing and understanding the functional structures and tools can help you better understand how your computer works and what is going on that you can’t necessarily see. Basically, that by glitching image or audio files you can begin to understand the structures and tools in your computer. Digital objects are made up of bits with encoded information that software is designed to read. By breaking down these digital objects we can see how the computer understands the objects and what the tools were designed to do and not do. Pretty neat!  

         With images, the data files are meant to be viewed in a certain way. When you download an image, it is saved in a .jpeg format. For example, it would look like this

a picture of my sister Molly and my friend Emily eating subway in Budapest.

If you edit the file extension from .jpeg to .txt you can see the text data of the photo, but it looks like complete nonsense to me.

Once you open the text in TextEdit on a Mac or Notepad on a PC you can edit the text or delete the text to change the output/visual image. Also, here is the YouTube link for the tutorial on how to change a file extension

Once I changed the file to a .txt file I started deleting text. I had to delete a lot of text to make a difference though! After you make the edits/delete the text the last thing you have to do is convert the .txt file back into a .jpeg file and it’s all done! It’s kind of fun too! The photo below is the glitched photo.

         Another way to do this is with an mp3 file. The process is very similar to image glitching. Once the audio file is downloaded it will show up as an .mp3 file and you can change it to a .txt file he same way you would change a ,jpeg to a .txt file.

When you open the file in TextEdit you can delete some text the same way you would for images and convert the file back into a .mp3 after and you have a glitched file! There is less to show in this process but I glitched “For the Sake of the Song” by Townes van Zandt and will play the original and the glitched file in class on Wednesday so you can hear it!

I hope this was helpful 🙂 – Emma

Notes on Disrespect des Fonds

Disrespect des Fonds: Rethinking Arrangement and Description in Born-Digital Archives by Jefferson Bailey

This essay discusses the respect des fonds, an archival theory that dictates how documents and materials are organized, and how it relates to born-digital archives, a space where traditional archival thought does not necessarily hold the same weight as in traditional archival settings. The main question of the article is, “how will traditional principles of archival arrangement and description be challenged or modified to account for born-digital materials?” Quite honestly before reading this essay I had not thought all that much about how archives are organized.

Respect des fonds is an archival theory that outlines the way materials and documents are grouped in an archive and in the article is further defined as: “principle of grouping records by the administration, organization, individual, or creating body in which they originated. Respect des fonds mandates that the records of the creating entity not be mixed with those of a different entity. It prioritizes the “organic” nature of archival records, identifying the locus of their generation, and the evidence their consolidation provides about that originating body, as essential to preserving and maintaining context.”

This essay looks at the social context in which respect des fonds was created, the limits of the theory, new models that attempted to address critiques of des fonds, how born-digital materials must go beyond the limits of the theory, and the potential for reinterpretation of respect des fonds. The archival theory was developed in the 1800s in France in the wake of the French Revolution as a result of shifting politics and the necessity for order in creating new Archives Nationales. The organizing principle of des fonds is the origin or creator of the document because of the need to “know where it was created, in the framework of what process, to what end, for whom, when and how it was received by the addressee, and how it came into our hands.” Even after its creation in France it was not widely used but it really took off in Prussia and the Netherlands.

Since the early 1900s there has been a rise in criticisms of des fonds because the order is not always clear, can be reorganized, and reconstructed. There was also a discussion of usefulness, because des fonds was sometimes a confusing system was it always useful? “Fonds could also be mixed or “broken” into multiple transfers to an archive, making reconstitution difficult.”  (This reminds me of the article we read in Craft, Ann Laura Stoler, Against the Archival Grain: Epistemic Anxieties and Colonial Common Sense (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009), 1-15.) New models were developed out of critiques of des fonds, “by forming new ideas about how order or grouping can evidence archival authenticity, identity, and meaning.”

         One theory developed in response to criticism to des fonds is the “series system,” an alternative that instead classified by function/use that was created by Peter Scott. Luciana Duranti developed the “archival bond” which “identifies a web of documentary co-dependencies that presumes an inheritance and relationship between records based on functional proximity.”

Another theory is the parallelismus membrorum, the similarity of parallel files.” This theory was developed in the 1980s by Michel Duchein and is a theory referring to structural patterns in grammar, Bailey uses the example of “I came, I saw, I conquered.” This theory is based off of the “contextual relations that exist between records of different fonds, the network of meanings that stretch across the archive.” In the same vein as parallelismus, is a theory called “parallel provenance” created by Chris Hurley. This theory is “built around composing different things from the same particles combining things in different ways to produce a variety of views of what they look like in aggregate…not so much about identifying a different creator as recognizing manifold content.”

Born-digital materials however necessitate different treatment in digital archives because of the nature of the material. Reading this section kind of made me feel like a comp-sci girlboss even though I had to read it a few times because I don’t fully understand technology. Anyways! Bailey introduces digital bits, “the bit, the binary, the magnetic flux reversal of the spinning disk that is the origin of the digital object,” which is one of the ways that digital records can complicate the des fonds theory. Digital bits are altered/reconstructed every time the file is opened “(for instance, a file’s “last opened” date)” will re-order the digital bits and the digital material order. Ambient data is another way that digital materials are more complicated than analogue materials because most users are unaware of the ambient data stored in a digital interface. For example, ambient data is made up of temporary files and multiple identical files that are hidden and thus complicate the linear order of files. This makes the origin order of des fonds difficult because digital files are not always ordered in a linear sense the way physical documents can be. In the digital interface the way users access and look for sources is a physically different experience as well, they are not looking through boxes and files but can instead search key words and descriptions. So while original order and provenance can be used for organization it is not the only way for users to access documents.

The author concludes that digital archives are a great time to rethink respect des fonds and “revisit the true goals of arrangement and description in the light of the capabilities of digital records.” Digital archives present new ways for users to search for documents and gain access to different types of related material. The space is there for a different and multifaceted organization system that is built off of but not limited to respect des fonds.

Notes on Critical Digital Archives by Carbajal and Caswell

Critical Digital Archives

         In this article, the authors Carbajal and Caswell set out to define what “digital archives” are from an archivist’s perspective, outline how historians should think about digital archives and how to use them. The article focuses on seven themes and debates about digital archives and records that are present in recent scholarship including: materiality, appraisal, context, use, scale, relationships, and sustainability. I personally found this article very helpful; it is a great introduction to digital archives and all that goes into creating, maintaining, and interacting with them. Essentially, how to do digital history better! Each section is ended with questions to help historians think about the way they interact with digital archives in relation to materiality, appraisal, etc. and were very insightful!

         Some important definitions: archival studies – a sub-field of information studies that deals with records that represent “human activity that travel across space and time” (1103). Records and “recordness” – “notions of evidence; conceptions of provenance; methodologies for determining historic value; ways to create pathways for user retrieval of relevant materials; and issues surrounding the representation of records through descriptive tools, such as finding aids and catalogues” (1103). Born digital records- records like emails, tweets, Instagram posts, Word and Google docs, etc. that archivists have collected and preserved. Focus on things that are done/created in a digital space. Analogue records- physical records like Newspapers, paper, films, etc. all things that are not digital and have been collected, selectively digitized and preserved by archivists (1104).


         The authors emphasize the labor and maintenance that digital archives require. In the opening paragraph they joke about the moment historians realize just how much goes into creating and maintain a digital archive in an ethical and sustainable way. A group of files does not count as a digital archive unless “there is a plan for preserving them across space and time, maintaining the context of their creation through metadata, and ensuring continual access to present and future users” (1105). This is all made possible through labor, people have to digitize, transcribe, contextualize, describe, and preserve them. It also requires “natural, human, and financial resources” and because these resources are limited it can be difficult to maintain archives in a sustainable and ethical way. Lack of funding is also one way silences are created in archives. The authors point out that because resources are limited, most digital archives represent and serve the wealthiest communities (1106). The authors also remind us that archives are not neutral, they are political, and they silence.


         All archives create and perpetuate silences. Even before the archival stage, not everything is recorded, not everything is then collected, and then out of what is collected not everything is preserved, described, and contextualized. When archivists are appraising records, they are determining what has and will continue to have value (1107). Value is determined by the goals of the archive, is not objective, and in turn creates silences. Digital archives magnify these silences because the digitization for analogue documents is not a neutral process. What is digitized is determined by resources and the institutions and only documents that archivists believe are the most important or most valuable will be digitized.


         Metadata contains the context and descriptions of the documents and items and is an important part of the digital archives. Metadata is essentially “data about data” and is better understood in categories “administrative, descriptive, technical, structural, and preservation” (1108). The authors also discuss “historical debt” which is the work done to redo work previously done (1110). Archivists today are stuck with “historical debt” because people previously pursued cheaper or incorrect approaches. “Historical debt” also stems from archivists redoing work to correct problematic/offensive descriptions and incorrect language in archives to make a more inclusive and accurate archive (1109).


         This section deals with who uses digital archives and the realities of people using sources, artifacts, and documents outside of their original contexts (1111). The metadata of documents includes the context of that item, “when, where, and from what perspective that information was collected” (1111). The danger of digital archives is that people can take documents out of context and use them in a crude way that does not reflect the intention of the original document. The authors also highlight how digital archives can negatively impact some users, “especially users who have been denied access to or autonomy over their own cultural property because of colonialism and capitalism” (1112). The authors remind historians to consider who is benefits from the archive and how it can impact certain communities. I thought this section was particularly interesting!


         The scope and capacities of the digital world are always changing and evolving. Archivists, digital historians, and librarians are constantly faced with new technology that can improve the digital humanities and archives. But these new technologies come with learning curves, more labor, more pressure to keep up, and the need to increase the pace of labor (1114-5). The authors argue that we should work to engage practices that we already exist or approach archival work in a “radically different and people-centered way” (1115). They also introduce the idea of “slow archives” which entails creating boundaries in digital archives to be more ethical, inclusive, and accessible to user communities and not exploit laborers; “slowing down to create a necessary space for emphasizing how knowledge is produced, circulated, contextualized, and exchanged” (1115).


         This portion of the article discusses the relationships of custody of documents, consent from communities, and care. In traditional Western thought when objects/documents are given to an archive there is a transference of custody from the original owner/creator to the institution. “Post-custodialism” is a more recent way of thinking about ownership of objects/documents where “archivists will no longer physically acquire and maintain records, but that they will provide oversight for records that will remain in the custody of the record creators” (1115). This idea of stewardship dramatically shifts from the tradition of taking documents out of their communities of origin and is representative of a partnership or relationship and care. I found this section really interesting as well!


         This section was very eye opening. I feel like we hear so much about digital archives and yet I knew absolutely nothing about how they are maintained and the environmental impacts they can have. The discussion of sustainability and digital archives stems from recent discussions about climate change. Before reading this article, in my mind, digital archives were the more sustainable option, but man I was wrong! I thought that because digital archives do not require climate control for material objects and need much less space, they would be more sustainable. But it takes a lot of energy to preserve documents on multiple servers that are available to people all over the world forever (1117)! Like all things funding is necessary for digital archives to be maintained and often the more sustainable options are more expensive and not available for institutions with limited funding.

Critical Digital Archives

         This whole article has been how the authors envision a critical digital archive one that “emerges from those theories, practices, and projects that critique the current state of digital archives and enact meaningful changes to that state” (1119). In essence an archive that is ethically responsible for what they collect, how they collect it, how they pay for labor, how they interact with communities, and how they preserve and maintain the archive. “Focusing, listening, and acting differently, with careful intent and care, can counteract the incessant need for new, more, and bigger digital archives” (1119). The authors are calling historians and archivists to think critically about how they use and support digital archives with a focus on being sustainable, ethical, empathetic and compassionate for the communities they work with. I really enjoyed this article and feel much more knowledgeable about what digital archive means! I am really interested to hear how much you all knew about digital archives before reading this article and how you feel about them now!

Digital Project Proposal: Mapping the Stolpersteine in Germany and Europe on ArcGIS

Emma Todd

         Stolpersteine, or stumbling stones, can be found throughout the streets of Germany and in other European countries. Each stone is engraved with the name of Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Since this initiative started it has been expanded to include other victims of the Holocaust, but it originated to remember Jewish victims. These stones are placed in the ground in front of each person’s house and are engraved with their name, birth date, deportation date, the concentration camp they were sent to, and if possible, a death date. They are a way to publicly remember the victims of the Holocaust. The brass stones are placed directly into the pavement and stand out amongst the standard stones that make up the sidewalk. The project began in 1992 by a German artist, Gunter Demnig, and today it is one of the largest decentralized memorials. The stones are scattered all over Germany and more countries throughout Europe. When the Nazi’s destroyed Jewish cemeteries the headstones were often repurposed for sidewalk stones.

Stolperstein for Maria Lieberman in Berlin

         For my project I would like to make a digital map of the Stolpersteine and I think ArcGIS would be the best platform for this. While a map of the Stolpersteine does already exist it is very plain and just has dots that show the stones location. I would like to add photos, context and history to the map to make it more of a visual experience. Because of the limited time I have to complete this project I plan to select a few stones in an area and make a small map of those. Ideally this could be used by people at the sites to lead them to the Stolpersteine and give more information or for people who are unable to go to Germany or Europe and look at the stones in person.