The Iowa Jewish Historical Society received a grant of $21,430 in July 2015 from the REAP/Historical Resources Development Program (HRDP) administered by the State Historical Society of Iowa.
The funds are being used to preserve hundreds of interviews done with members of the statewide Jewish community from the 1970s to 2006 along with original TV shows produced by the Federation and tapes of special occasions in the history of the Jewish community in Iowa. These interviews are on audio and video tapes that are too old to pop into a cassette player or VCR. Each tape has to be carefully digitized by a professional with specialized equipment before we can listen to the tapes and provide access to these personal, community, and world histories.
The tapes contain a wealth of untapped information. All are one-of-a-kind interviews that provide personal perspectives and insight into Jewish life—i.e., religious beliefs and practices, “outside” events that had an impact on the Jewish community, personal accounts of anti-Semitism, life in Nazi Germany, World War II, the Holocaust, immigration to the U.S, and daily life.
But these descriptions of the materials on the tapes are just the tip of the iceberg! Most of these tapes originated before the Historical Society was formed and, most likely, contain information about Iowa’s Jewish heritage that does not exist in any other format!
The grant covers a two-year period and requires the Historical Society to raise more than $12,500 as the cash match it pledged as part of the grant.
The grant funds will be used for the first phase of the project—digitizing hundreds of the taped interviews, creating summaries of the information on each tape, and making a list of the tapes and summaries available on the web. Later phases, which will have to be funded separately, will complete the digitization of all the tapes and make excerpts and full copies of the tapes available to the public.
So far, the IJHS has digitized more than 90 oral history interviews from 1979 through 2006. Excerpts from the tapes have been used for presentations to students studying the Holocaust, for research for current exhibits, and for articles for the Jewish Press.
Donations to help with the required match are needed. Please mail your gift to IJHS, 33158 Ute Ave., Waukee, IA 50263 with a notation that the funds are to be used for this project. Thank you!