Fifteen years ago, nearly 52,000 Holocaust survivors and witnesses began sharing their stories with a group that would come to be known as the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education. The testimonies, averaging about two hours each, were documented on videotape, a format whose quality deteriorates over time.

That’s why the foundation, intent on preserving its Holocaust material for future generations, has launched a $10 million initiative to turn 105,000 hours of videotaped testimony into a vast digital archive.

The switch, foundation leaders say, cannot come too soon — with the videotapes expected to start decaying within five years and aging Holocaust survivors dying off. The foundation planned to digitize 12,000 testimonies a year, finishing the collection by 2013.

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