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Friday, August 22, 2014

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Survivor's stories, pictures preserved on website

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1000memories founders from left, Jonathan Good, Brett Huneycutt, and Rudy Adler

At 1000memories, everyone’s stories and pictures are worth preserving and sharing. What’s old can become new again and can be saved forever for all to enjoy.

Founded by Rudy Adler, Jonathan Good and Brett Huneycutt, 1000memories.com is a free website that celebrates the lives of people who matter most – friends and family, past and present. 

The company helps bring albums, scrapbooks and photo-filled shoeboxes out of the closet and into an online space, where they can be shared and celebrated, said Michael Katchen, director of business development.

“When a close friend of our founders passed away last year, they became painfully aware of the shortcomings of social networks for remembering people online,” Katchen said.

“We all shared stories on his Facebook page, but not long after, his page was ‘memorialized’ by Facebook and all of the stories were deleted.”

It became clear to the founders of 1000memories that there was no permanent place online for family and friends to easily come together and share memories of the people they care about.

Katchen said 1000memories recently teamed up with March of the Living Canada to collect, preserve and share the stories of Holocaust survivors. The memory page, which can be viewed at 1000memories.com/march-of-the-living “is an amazing and important project to record the stories of survivors before it is too late. It is also the first attempt to tap into the vast oral history of March of the Living alumni who had incredible exposure to survivors throughout Poland and Israel.”

As a 2004 March of the Living alumni, Katchen said he is “acutely aware of the growing urgency to collect, preserve and share the stories of Holocaust survivors.”

After learning of the deaths of two survivors who were involved with the program, he approached Alana Getzler, the director of March of the Living’s Toronto chapter and Eli Rubenstein, its national director, in July to help in his mission.

“Our aspiration is to collect as many stories as possible and preserve them for future generations. 1000memories makes it easy for everyone to participate, and we hope this inspires lots more people to contribute the stories, photos and videos of survivors they know,” Katchen said.

He added that there are plenty of sites that let people share their “present” with others, but not many sites that allow people to share their past – “the pre-Internet photos and stories that have otherwise been sitting in closets, unshared with the exception of the occasional holiday or family gathering.”

Since the launch of 1000memories in 2010, the company has consistently grown and evolved, adding new features and capabilities regularly. 

It has become “a rich, dynamic, collaborative collection of the extraordinary stories of everyday people,” Katchen said.

“It is our mission to provide a safe place for your memories so that they can be passed down to future generations. This is as close to a permanent space for your memories that you’ll ever find on the Internet. And it should be.”

To create a page on 1000memories, users can upload photos, text, audio or video relating to any person they want to remember. When a user tags another individual in their photos or stories, the site then attaches the memories to that person’s page. If no page previously existed for that other person, one will automatically be created for them.

The site supports content in any language and allows users to order their memories chronologically. Through their partnership with the Internet Archive, the official digital archive of the Library of Congress, the company is making sure that memories will be eternally preserved.

Katchen and March of the Living Canada set up a community page with testimonies from survivor participants and invited a pilot group of alumni to contribute.

“The page is now open to the public and completely free. We are now working to engage lots more people in the alumni community and beyond to participate.”

March of the Living will soon need a new mechanism for sharing survivors’ stories with participants, Katchen said.

“By collecting their stories now, we are making sure that future generations will be able to discover survivors’ incredible stories and learn the lessons of the Holocaust.”

Katchen said Holocaust education has always been a personal passion. While attending the University of Western Ontario, he was Hillel’s vice-president of Holocaust education for two years.

“This project is a chance to combine my passion for Holocaust education with my role at 1000memories.”

There are more than 200,000 March of the Living alumni who have heard the stories of Holocaust survivors first-hand, he said. “The alumni community has an incredible oral history of stories, photos, and videos that has never before been documented.

We hope this project inspires them to share these memories of the survivors who accompanied them on their trips.”

Katchen said each member of the 1000memories team has a unique connection to the site. To see the pages that each staff member has created, visit http://1000memories.com/team.

 

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