Librarian Vincent Slatt of the United States Holocaust
Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. recently called a photographer into
the reading room.
"This is how research trips should be done," he said, pointing to a
group from Northern Arizona University hovering over stacks of books and
The Martin-Springer Institute sponsored the group, which is part of a
larger ongoing project at NAU to create a travel exhibit on the Bedzin
ghetto, Poland. In the fall of last year, Director Bjorn Krondorfer,
Program Coordinator Melissa Cohen and professor Martin Kalb framed this
public history project for undergraduate students. Bedzin is the former
home of Holocaust survivor Doris Martin (nee Szpringer), who founded the
institute together with her husband Ralph.
Twelve students from numerous disciplines were accepted into the
project group. Starting in January, the group met once a week to learn
about the Holocaust and the situation in Poland in particular. They
interviewed two Holocaust survivors, Jane Lipski in Tucson and Martin in
Flagstaff. By the end of the spring semester, the focus and scope of
the planned exhibit had come into focus: daily life in the Bedzin ghetto
before, during and after the Holocaust, through the eyes of young
In May, Kalb took four members of the NAU group to Washington, D.C.,
to find documentation on Bedzin for the exhibit. At the archives of the
Center of Advanced Holocaust Studies, Zoe Fry (history) and Gage
Williams (history/museum studies) looked into the photo collection.
Using the photo archive and database helped to gather primary resources
about individuals related to the town and ghetto of Bedzin. Mikayla
Cutlip (interior design) worked on oral testimonies available through
the USC Shoah Foundation. Paisley Green (history/English) delved into
the extensive and often frustrating records of the International Tracing
Service. This database is the most useful resource to trace victims of
Fry said of her experience, "We were allowed to use so many research
tools for the first time. These are materials that people in an
undergraduate position rarely get to utilize."
The group also had a meeting at the Smithsonian. "We had the
opportunity to tour the different stages of exhibit creation, including
design, editing, manufacturing and implementation," said Cutlip.
This fall at NAU, the group will commence work on their own exhibit.