David Boder: from wire recordings to website

A lesson about how the collection of interviews with concentration camp survivors created by psychologist David Boder in 1946 was turned into an interactive website in 2000 and 2009.

about the lesson S

Introduction

A lesson about how the collection of interviews with concentration camp survivors created by psychologist David Boder in 1946 was turned into an interactive website in 2000 and 2009.

What is the objective of this lesson?

How is the content organized?

watch this animation S

David Boder’s interview collection: from analogue to digital

S Animation: David Boder's interview collection: from analogue to digital

First watch this animation, then complete the quiz

An account describing how the collection of interviews with concentration camp survivors created by David Boder in 1946 was turned into an interactive website in 2009.

answer this quiz S

David Boder’s interview collection: from analogue to digital. Quiz

S Animation in a quiz mode

Read this Introduction before you take the Quiz!

This quiz is designed to test your understanding of the topic. The animation is shown again, but this time it is interspersed with eight multiple-choice questions that appear on the screen and have to be answered before you can continue with the clip. Answering questions 1 to 6 is quite easy – the information that you need is conveyed in the passage just before the question appears. To answer questions 7 and 8, however, you need to remember details that are communicated throughout the clip. To answer these questions you can consult the transcript of the voice-over that can be accessed at click on this link [NEED LINK TO PDF]. But first answer questions 1 to 6.

watch this interactive animation S

David Boder’s interview collection: from analogue to digital

S Animation in an interactive mode

Read this introduction, enter the interactive animation, then choose one of the assignments

Unlike the quiz, where the questions appear automatically, in this version of the clip you need to click on a rectangular black box with a white title that appears on the bottom left corner of your screen to enter a window with additional information on a specific topic. The alternative to playing the clip and waiting until a box appears is to click on the index in the bottom left corner of the screen, that shows an overview of all the 12 boxes and topics.

Since the clip covers a wide range of topics ranging from physics and reproduction technology to the historiography of the Holocaust and interview methodology, the assignments can be connected to a broad variety of courses. Lecturers can select the most appropriate assignment(s) by looking at the tags in the metadata.

complete these assignments M

1 out of 12 — contributing to a timeline

In the animation you watched the focus is mostly on the creation and transformation of David Boder’s collection from analogue source to online web resource. But the historical context also deserves some attention. Boder’s expertise and mindset were shaped by what he encountered during his life in terms of personal drawbacks, technological innovation, scientific progress and political conflict. This assignment introduces you to a digital tool with which you can create a timeline that can be populated and shared. The idea is to make you aware of the historical context in which Boder’s historical sources were created. You will be conducting critical web research and contributing to a digital timeline.

Instructions

10 min

1.a Entering data in a timeline

20 min

1.b Creating entries

120 min

1.c Create a new timeline

130 min

Reading / viewing suggestions

learning outcomes

  • Learning to place a historical source, its creation, form and appearance into a broader societal context
  • Learning the basic principle of an online timeline,
  • learning to deal with intellectual property rights

2 out of 12 — The analogue wire recorder compared to digital audio recording

One might wonder why students of a humanities discipline should learn about the obsolete technology of the wire recorder. The reason is to understand the difference between the physics of capturing sound in the analogue era and how this relates to the physics of digital technology. Practising digital source criticism is about more than just reflecting on the informational value of a historical source. It also means considering the transmitter of information and its material qualities. With digital information technology now so pervasive in our everyday life, it is important to understand the underlying physical phenomena and to be able to reflect on how the shift from analogue to digital has affected our use of technology.

Instructions

10 min

2.a Recordings and physics

15 min

2.b Digital and analogue recording

Reading/viewing suggestions

learning outcomes

  • Learning about the physics of audio recording in analogue and digital form
  • Understanding how we depende on technology for the spread of knowledge

3 out of 12 — Different ways of documenting people’s accounts of the Holocaust

When reflecting on the value and meaning of a source that has been published on the web, it is important to take the context of its creation into consideration. Turning everything into searchable digital data raises the risk of disregarding the different methods and approaches used by researchers when they created the data. This assignment is designed to highlight the differences between the accounts of Holocaust survivors that were summarised in written reports and those recorded on a device by Boder. They are both accessible online, but what is the difference? What can you do with this material that was not possible when it was kept in an archive?

Instructions

10 min

3.a Source criticism

15 min

3.b A first exploration of the archives: how verbs are used

15 min

3.c A second exploration of the archives: how key characters are represented

15 min

3.d A third exploration of the archives: the identity of the speaker

Reading/viewing suggestions

learning outcomes

  • Understanding how the method used to collect data has an impact on its informative value for future researchers.
  • Understanding the limitations and benefits of online access to databases with personal narratives.

4 out of 12 — Who are these people? Photography and identity

In the animation about Boder, photographs of victims and of families have been used without clarifying their identity. This is done to create an association. The photo stands for a group or for a societal-cultural context. In a sense the same effect is created with the newsreels about the liberated concentration camps, as Boder observed: people are portrayed as an anonymous group, disregarding their individuality.
Because this lesson is about source criticism, we have tried to trace the context in which these photos were taken and the names of the people who are portrayed. The assignment invites students to search for the context in which these photos were taken and how they ended up in this animation.

Instructions

20 min

4.a Online content, who is behind it?

20 min

4.b Photos online used in the right historical context

Reading/viewing suggestions

learning outcomes

  • Understanding how photographs can be used for different purposes,
  • Understanding how digital and web technologies have enhanced the re-use of photographs
  • Learning to trace the origin of a photo through web research

5 out of 12 — Who are these families?

In the animation about Boder, photographs of victims and of families have been used without clarifying their identity. This is done to create an association. The photo stands for a group or for a societal-cultural context. In a sense the same effect is created with the newsreels about the liberated concentration camps, as Boder observed: people are portrayed as an anonymous group, disregarding their individuality.
Because this lesson is about source criticism, we have tried to trace the context in which these photos were taken and the names of the people who are portrayed. The assignment invites students to search for the context in which these photos were taken and how they ended up in this animation.

Instructions

20 min

5.a Online content, who is behind it?

20 min

5.b Photos published online

Reading/viewing suggestions

learning outcomes

  • Understanding how photographs can be used for different purposes,
  • Understanding how digital and web technologies have enhanced the re-use of photographs
  • Learning to trace the origin of a photo through web research

6 out of 12 — Boder’s approach: from statistics to human expression

Boder’s approach shifted from that of a traditional social scientist looking for evidence to that of an ethnographer documenting people’s expressions. The footage shown in this box was shot in Henonville but it only shows moving images of people without sound. The sound is stored on a separate medium. This assignment is designed to make students aware of the multimodal dimension of a source and how the web facilitates access to these different modes. You will be asked to reflect on the context of creation, the context of preservation and the context of digitisation of the material. sect

Instructions

20 min

6.a Reconstructing the sequence of transformations: film footage

20 min

6.b Reconstructing the sequence of transformations: a song

Reading/viewing suggestions

learning outcomes

  • learning about the different modalities of an audiovisual source
  • learning to distinguish the difference in character between a song as a historical source and film footage.

7 out of 12 — Where did Boder conduct his interviews?

As described in the clip, Boder conducted his interviews in difficult circumstances. It was hard for him to find a quiet place where he could be alone with his interviewees. This affected the quality of his recordings, and probably also the length of the interviews. To give you an idea of these circumstances you can watch a video created by Yad Vashem on the situation in displacement camps.
This assignment is designed to help you reflect on displacement camps as the first places of “knowledge production” about the Holocaust.

Instructions

15 min

7.a Envisioning a future life

20 min

7.b Documenting the recent past

30 min

7.c Displacement camps in 1945 and 1946

Reading/viewing suggestions

learning outcomes

  • learning about circumstances in the displacement camps
  • learning to search with image recognition
  • learning to conduct web research

8 out of 12 — A look in Boder’s book: Transformation from spoken language to typed text

Boder reworked his basic sources, the transcripts of his interviews, to be published in his first book. In the interactive version you can see a PDF of part of his book. When consulting a book consisting of a textual representation of a spoken interview that has been translated from German to English, one should be conscious of the alterations that occur.
The purpose of this assignment is to show how one source, an audio recording, can be represented in different forms depending on the specific conventions of the medium. You are going to compare the same interview as it was published in the book in 1948 with its digital online representation created in 2009.

30 min

8.a Comparing a printed anonymous transcript to its digital version online

30 min

8.b Comparing reading to listening

60 min

8.c Reflecting on your experiences

learning outcomes

  • Understanding the interplay between the conventions of a method for collecting data, the convention of the medium through which this data is shared,and the appearance of its representation.

9 out of 12 — A mimeographed copy compared to a digital copy

The possibilities for reproduction of text and images increased considerably during Boder’s lifetime. As well as the mimeograph, he used the microcard to disseminate his volumes of transcripts among various universities and research institutes.
This assignment is intended to develop an understanding of how the introduction of communication technologies increased individuals’ ability to spread a message.
Reduced costs and easy-to-manage protocols mean that lay people not familiar with printing technologies are now able to disseminate their work.

Instructions

30 min

9.a Comparing reproduction technologies

15 min

9.b What is an authentic source

15 min

9.c Mimeograph and Microcard

Reading/viewing suggestions

learning outcomes

  • Understanding the difference between the concept of the ‘original’ in the analogue area, and how this has changed with the advent of digital technology.

10 out of 12 — Where and how can Boder’s work be consulted?

The list of universities and research institutes that received a copy of Boder’s transcripts shows the places he considered to be important centres of knowledge that could benefit from his work. At present Boder’s legacy is concentrated in a limited number of institutes, mostly within the United States.
This assignment is designed to juxtapose Boder’s efforts to spread his work with the current geographical spread of institutes that preserve part of his legacy.
You will be asked to create a map and mark the places with institutes that hold parts of his legacy. In addition you will conduct research on how digital communication technologies are used to create online access to Boder’s work.

Instructions

30 min

10.a Mapping Boder’s legacy 1. : where can his original work be found?

30 min

10.b Mapping Boder’s legacy 2. : who has published copies of his work online?

30 min

Reading/viewing suggestions

learning outcomes

  • How to use a tool to create a digital map.
  • Understanding how archives deal differently with access to historical sources.
  • Understanding how digital technology can be used to spread knowledge.

11 out of 12 — What are the sources upon which the news on the Holocaust denial of Ahmadinejad is based?

The statements of Iranian president Ahmadinejad in 2005 in the press are said to be decisive for mobilizing resources to publish all of Boder’s work online. Understandably, statements that put into question whether the Holocaust actually occurred, trigger heated and emotional debates. Nevertheless, each statement that appears in the press, whatever medium, should be subject to careful source criticism. This applies to historians as well as to journalists.
This assignment is meant to trace back the sources upon which the news about the Holocaust denial of Ahmadinejad is based, how this news spread, and how it was represented by the international press.

Instructions

60 min

11.a Perspectives on Holocaust denials

60 min

11.b Placing the statement in a broader context

60 min

11.c The event held in Iran in 2006 in the international press

Reading/viewing suggestions

learning outcomes

  • understanding the making and spread of news in the analogue and digital era
  • understanding the concept of Holocaust denial

12 out of 12 — A snippet of text from Edith Zierer’s story in 1946

In 1946 fifteen years old Edith Zierer was interviewed by David Boder in Bellevue, an orphanage for displaced Jewish children near Paris. The interview was conducted in German. 57 years later, in June 2003, she was interviewed again in Hebrew by an interviewer of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
The purpose of this assignment is to illustrate how the narrative on experiences in concentration camps and its impact on one’s life, changes over time. You will be comparing features of the interview held in 1946 to the one conducted in 2003.

Instructions

60 min

12.a A child of 15 compared to a women of 70

30 min

12.b Different technologies for recording

Reading/viewing suggestions

learning outcomes

  • Understanding specific temporality of oral history as historical source.
  • Changes in accessibility and technology.