In 1979, a grassroots organization called the Holocaust Survivors Film Project began videotaping Holocaust survivors and witnesses in New Haven, Connecticut. In 1981, the original collection of testimonies was deposited at Yale University and we opened our doors to the public the following year.
On September 9, 2019, our colleague and friend Frank Clifford died. He had various forms of cancer for several years and maintained an active life, continuing to work as long as he could. His grace and joie de vivre set an example for all who knew him. Frank made enormously important contributions to the digital preservation of cultural heritage materials at Yale. Prior to his work at the Fortunoff, Frank was an engineer at Yale Broadcast where he was first exposed to survivor testimonies, both when he recorded them as the camera person and when he repaired tapes or equipment for Fortunoff. Frank served as Project Manager for a multiyear mass digitization effort at the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies beginning in 2010. Working with Yale Information Technology experts, he helped design an automated workflow that could digitize three streams of video tapes at once. He cleaned and migrated the entire Fortunoff collection consisting of nearly 12,000 hours of video testimonies from several analogue formats and standards to three digital formats for preservation, editing, and use purposes. Operating multiple video transfer decks and sophisticated tape cleaning and digitization equipment simultaneously, Frank fastidiously migrated these unique, at-risk materials tape by tape, year by year.