Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

H2020

EHRI Report Summary

Project ID: 654164
Funded under: H2020-EU.1.4.1.2.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - EHRI (European Holocaust Research Infrastructure)

Reporting period: 2015-05-01 to 2016-10-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

We have reached a turning point in Holocaust documentation, research and remembrance. Before long there will be no survivors left who can testify about their experiences. Their contribution cannot be replaced. But research infrastructures such as EHRI are crucial in making properly contextualized and researched documentation available and accessible, to academic researchers and to the public at large. This is a necessary basis for responsible and meaningful Holocaust remembrance. The EHRI partners are driven by the mission to make Holocaust documentation accessible for future generations.

EHRI particularly focuses on Holocaust archives that are not part of larger infrastructures and/or are ‘hidden’ to most researchers. In order to connect material scattered around Europe and beyond the consortium is undertaking a focused programme of trans-national networking and research to integrate local infrastructures, knowledge and expertise into a shared infrastructure of global dimension.

Through our focus on connecting local and hidden archives in combination with the development of innovative online tools for finding, researching and sharing knowledge, we are enabling local research into Jewish life during the Holocaust.

In its first phase EHRI has begun to establish links with institutions and researchers in parts of Europe, which have been under-represented in international Holocaust research compared to the importance of their regions for the Holocaust. In the current phase we are expanding, especially in Eastern and Southern Europe.

EHRI is committed to provide quality research information, and to develop innovative research methods and best practices in data management. This will make it considerably easier to conduct both truly international and local research into the Holocaust and to achieve a comprehensive approach to the history of the Holocaust as a shared European phenomenon.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

Networking
From the beginning of this phase of EHRI we have been working on a dissemination strategy to ensure that we reach all stakeholders and main target groups. The strategy is geared towards a substantial expansion of our user community and network. Throughout we have been disseminating our results via our website, social media, formal publications, and conference presentations.

Training and methodologies
The EHRI seminars allow a new generation of Holocaust scholars to gain insight into new methodologies and connect to an international network of scholars. So far 3 seminars have been organised. Additionally, we have created a new interactive online course, which will be launched in December 2016, and we have prepared a list of topics for workshops on new methodologies. The workshops contribute to the expansion of the community of experts connected to EHRI.

Sustainability
EHRI has begun planning its sustainability to ensure that enhanced research into the Holocaust continues beyond the current project. The consortium has started preparations for a proposal to be submitted under the call for the ESFRI Roadmap 2018.

Transnational access
The EHRI fellowship programme enables Holocaust researchers, archivists and digital humanists to apply for transnational access at 15 partner institutions.The enhanced programme continues to be successful. We have issued two calls that resulted in 85 applications. The programme has succeeded in reaching researchers from within the humanities who are not yet well integrated into the wider international Holocaust research community.

Virtual access
The EHRI Online Portal (https://portal.ehri-project.eu) offers integrated online access to a unique corpus of archival documentation on the Holocaust. At present, it provides access to descriptions of more than 1,800 Holocaust-related archives in 50 countries; descriptions of more than 200,000 archival units; authoritative information on more than 1500 Holocaust-related organisations and individuals; and a multi-lingual thesaurus consisting of 881 terms.

EHRI has far exceeded its targets both in terms of number of registered users and number of portal sessions. After the first 12 months we had 743 registered users and attracted around 6,300 portal sessions per month. An international panel of experts has evaluated our virtual access provision very positively.

Joint research activities

Data integration
The first phase of the project was used to set out strategies, analyse options and get the first concrete actions started. Identification and integration of Holocaust-relevant archives is organised via different routes and methodologies. Meanwhile, three software tools are being developed to support the data integration. Detailed workflows and a corresponding work plan are in place.

User requirements
We have substantially improved the user experience of the infrastructure. The User Feedback group, which consists of 32 members with varying backgrounds, was asked 3 times for feedback. The recommendations from a first usability test of the EHRI Portal are successively being implemented.

Standards and thesaurus
Defining standards remains important for EHRI. Standards will lead to improved interoperability with other research infrastructures. In addition, we have written a roadmap that outlines a strategy and a work plan for the further development, integration and use of the EHRI thesaurus, other vocabularies and relevant semantic web technologies in the EHRI infrastructure.

Document Blog
In January 2016 we launched the EHRI Document Blog (https://blog.ehri-project.eu/). The blog is a space to share ideas about Holocaust-related archival documents, their presentation and interpretation using digital tools. EHRI partners, fellows and others experiment with different ways to explain and show digital archival content. So far 7 blog posts have been published, and 14 posts are being prepared.

As for research driven data services, we developed a demonstrator service to disambiguate names, two APIs to allow machine access to the EHRI Portal, and gathered requirements for future data-services.

The team that is working on data-driven research on Holocaust material has defined 6 research use cases. They inform EHRI’s method and tool development work. A first version of the online community space to share methods and tools on digital historiography has been released (https://dhblog.ehri-project.eu/exploratory_topic_modelling_using_r/).

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

By the end of the project EHRI will have substantially expanded its network and community, and integrated local infrastructures, knowledge and expertise. EHRI will have especially engaged ‘hidden’ archives, offered opportunities to junior scholars and scholars in Southern and Eastern Europe, and widened the trans-national access programme beyond traditional communities. An important end result of the current project will be new means to do research with victim sources, and present such sources to general audiences. EHRI will have made important progress in its ambitions to enable digital public history. Ultimately, EHRI aims to have acquired a place on the ESFRI Roadmap 2018 and funding from the European Commission for the preparation of a permanent organisation which would give trans-national Holocaust research a permanent home in Europe.

Related information

Record Number: 196317 / Last updated on: 2017-03-29