Using the Archive at Columbia

The Visual History Archive is a specialized tool requiring local use. Testimonies are streamed through the VHA interface from a Columbia cache server and are therefore best accessed on campus; the quality of off-campus access varies depending upon proximity. If a testimony you need is not readily viewable on our cache server, it can be requested and uploaded within 48 hours, and users will be notified by e-mail when the testimony is available. Use of the Archive requires a one-time registration, allowing users to save searches and projects and be accessible by e-mail.  The Archive can only be accessed:

  • On campus within the Columbia University campus network OR in the New York City vicinity with an active UNI and password.
  • Using Internet Explorer (version 8 or later) with the Windows operating system (XP or later) and Windows Media Player. Macintosh access using the Safari web browser works with limited operating systems.

For detailed searching, use the Visual History Archive Online site.  This website requires users to create an account, and allows detailed searching, as well as a limited selection of testimonies available freely (i.e. WITHOUT Columbia access).  Once you have found the testimonies you wish to see, you can request them to be uploaded to the Columbia cache by contacting the email below. (Please note that the VHA Online site is NOT the site to use to access Columbia's cache.  For Columbia's cache, you must sign on to or click on the "USC Shoah Foundation" banner on this page.  Either way, it must be from a Columbia-networked computer)

For help using the Visual History Archive’s search interface, see the VHA User Manual.

Note: Because old videos will eventually expire from Columbia's cache server when new videos are uploaded, to place a hold on a video for ongoing research, please contact

Locations on Campus for Viewing the Archive

Any networked computer on campus can stream the testimonies; however, headphones for viewing are available in

  • 304 Butler Library, next to the Digital Humanities Center
  • Lehman Library, Global Studies (this site is not currently available)

Additional Information