History Unfolded is a project of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. It asks students, teachers, and history buffs throughout the United States what was possible for Americans to have known about the Holocaust as it was happening and how Americans responded. Participants look in local newspapers for news and opinion about 33 different Holocaust-era events that took place in the United States and Europe, and submit articles they find to a national database, as well as information about newspapers that did not cover events. History Unfolded raises questions for scholars and will inform the Museum’s initiative on Americans and the Holocaust.
Participants search in newspaper archives online and at libraries for articles about the Nazi threat in the 1930s and 1940s. As of October 21, 2017, 1,879 participants from across the country had submitted more than 12,600 articles from their local newspapers. The articles were published in newspapers located in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and represent news articles, editorials, letters to the editor, political cartoons, and advertisements. Through their work, these “citizen historians” have learned about Holocaust history, used primary sources in historical research, and challenged assumptions about American knowledge of and responses to the Holocaust. Their findings prompt us to reflect on America’s role in the world today.