History Unfolded

Project Presented at International Holocaust Remembrance Day


Dr. Martin Kalb

Pictured above, former students at Bridgewater College, Emily Thomas and Samantha Savage, use a microfilm reader to work on the History Unfolded project. The project, presented during the International Holocaust Remembrance Day event, uses old newspapers to collect information about what Americans knew about the Holocaust while it was happening.

Katelyn Harrison, Staff Writer

Bridgewater, Va. – During the International Holocaust Remembrance Day presentation at Bridgewater College on Jan. 27, speakers discussed the History Unfolded project being done by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. 

The event was coordinated and hosted by Associate Professor of History Martin Kalb with two guest speakers, Jennifer Goss, a curriculum and instruction coordinator specialist at Echoes and Reflections who is also a Holocaust educator, and Eric Schmalz, the citizen history community manager at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. 

Schmalz discussed the project he coordinates, History Unfolded, and how it is taking citizen history to create a database of information about what America knew about the Holocaust while it was happening. The project is done by citizens who contribute research they have found, namely through newspaper articles from the World War II era. 

When Goss was an educator at Staunton High School, she and her students worked on the History Unfolded project. She said the students responded well to the project, and that the “project is an amazing asset for research.” 

Kalb has worked with students at BC to contribute to the project, beginning in 2016. Internships involved five students over several years who have looked through the Harrisonburg Daily News Record, during the World War II era. The work of students was halted by the library remodel, because students did not have access to the microfilm reader used to view old newspapers. If students are interested in working on the History Unfolded project they can email Kalb at [email protected]

“I found it interesting how many schools were involved with the research that the Holocaust Museum does,” said junior Chole Caplinger, who attended the event. “I didn’t know that they had such a wide outreach with people.” 

Kalb has been hosting events for International Holocaust Remembrance at BC since the college moved away from its January interterm in 2018.

“We used to not be in session during this day and I was surprised that no one else was doing anything in this region, so I then started kind of small, with Jennifer Goss giving me some suggestions,” said Kalb. “I just try to do some programming in this area, and now JMU is starting this year and has begun to do some programming as well, which is good to see.”

Schmalz said he hopes to have the History Unfolded project transferred from a data collection platform to one for doing research. The project has provided some information for the  Americans and the Holocaust Traveling Exhibition

Each year, International Holocaust Remembrance Day events at BC, as planned by Kalb, have featured different aspects of Holocaust education and remembrance. In previous years there have been film screenings and discussions on two books written and led by Robert Gillette

“I found it interesting that there were so many newspapers from the Staunton area that actually had like information based on the Holocaust,” said junior Alyssa Holton, who attended the event.  “It was shown that people did kind of know about it, but there wasn’t a huge reaction to it.”