Solutions

Documenting Stories of Holocaust Survivors

Survivors of the Shoah: Visual History Foundation

During the filming of his Oscar–winning Schindler's List, Steven Spielberg was approached by survivors of the Holocaust, who said that they too had stories they wanted to tell. These men and women weren't interested in making movies, but felt a passionate need to share their experiences with others.

Overview

  • Founded by Steven Spielberg, Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation is a non–profit organization dedicated to videotaping and archiving interviews of Holocaust survivors all over the world. The Foundation uses FileMaker Pro to schedule survivor interviews, track incoming phone calls, and handle payroll.

Industry

  • Non-Profit
  • Information Technology

To be able to have all of our departments interact with each other through FileMaker Pro, pulling up individual databases and have each database customized really makes our work much more efficient.

— Matthew Chuck, Manager of Information Technology, Survivors of the Shoah: Visual History Foundation

Business Challenge

As a result, Spielberg founded Survivors of the Shoah: Visual History Foundation, a non–profit organization dedicated to videotaping and archiving interviews of Holocaust survivors all over the world. These interviews are catalogued and archived digitally, and will be made available through museums, educational institutions and non–profit organizations, and through educational documentaries, books and CD–ROMs.

From 1994 through mid–1997, the Shoah Foundation conducted 31,622 interviews in 29 different languages in more than 40 countries worldwide. With its staff of over 200, complemented by over 3,500 volunteers worldwide, the Foundation is committed to capturing more than 50,000 testimonies.

Successful Solution

The Foundation uses FileMaker Pro to simplify the large job of scheduling survivor interviews, tracking incoming phone calls, and handling payroll. "We started using FileMaker because of its flexibility," said Matthew Chuck, the Foundation's Manager of Information Technology. "Originally we had four databases: for survivors, videographers, volunteers, and interviewers. Now we have one relational database that uses over 32 other databases to access information."

The purpose of the database is to simplify the complex job of scheduling some 50,000 testimonies of Holocaust survivors around the world. Hosted on an NT Server, the program is accessible to Foundation workers on both Macintosh and PC systems. In addition to storing basic survivor information, the databases include the complete contents of a 45–page survivor background questionnaire. It tracks individuals calling into the Foundation's toll–free 800 number, helps schedule interviews (coordinating interviewers and videographers schedules), and helps to handle payroll.

We started using FileMaker because of its flexibility. Originally we had four databases: for survivors, videographers, volunteers, and interviewers. Now we have one relational database that uses over 32 other databases to access information.

— Matthew Chuck, Manager of Information Technology, Survivors of the Shoah: Visual History Foundation

"Almost every department also has a customized database they use to perform their job," Matthew Chuck said. "It's been very easy to train people, because we've created all the databases with the input of the staff themselves. We try to make the interfaces as intuitive as possible.

"I like the fact that it's easy to get end users to a level of expertise. If we were using other databases, every time someone wanted to generate a new report layout, I'd have to send someone from my department down to do the work. The staff feels that FileMaker Pro is always changing to meet their needs."

Matthew Chuck is particularly pleased with FileMaker Pro's networking performance, especially its ability to compartmentalize for incremental backups. Before using FileMaker Pro, backup was an ordeal. Each user had to log off the database, or be kicked off by the system administrator. Since the Foundation backs up its computers every three hours, this twenty to thirty minute process used up quite a bit of staff time.

With FileMaker Pro, the system administrator is able to "freeze" a particular database for the few moments it takes to back up, and then release it immediately. Users can take a quick break and resume their work from the same place or are able to keep working in other sections of the database.

Customer Benefits

"We work in a very fast paced environment," Matthew Chuck said. " In a way, we're in preproduction, production and post production simultaneously to produce 50,000 short documentaries. To be able to have all of our departments interact with each other through FileMaker Pro, pulling up individual databases and have each database customized really makes our work much more efficient."

For FileMaker:

Kevin Mallon
Public Relations Manager
FileMaker Inc.
408-987-7227
kevin_mallon@filemaker.com
http://www.filemaker.com