Court reporters are known as “keepers of the record,” and this mission is especially important when significant historical events and trials need to be recorded. When witnesses for such events as the Holocaust have come forward to give their testimony, court reporters have been there to record their words for posterity. The importance of this work was recently highlighted by the passing of Vivien Spitz, one of the last living stenographers of the Nuremberg Trials in Germany. After her assignment, Spitz made it her life’s work to ensure that the events of the Holocaust, including the euthanasia program, the pseudoscientific medical experiments, and other crimes against humanity, are not forgotten. The U.S. Congress has marked April 27–May 4, 2014 as this year’s Holocaust Remembrance Week.
Other important testimonies that court reporters have recorded include the oral histories of family, friends, first responders, and investigators involved with Flight 93, which crashed 50 miles southeast of Pittsburgh on Sept. 11, 2001, and veterans’ war experiences for the Library of Congress Veterans History Project.
In the 10 years that NCRF has partnered with the Library’s VHP, NCRA members have submitted more than 3,200 transcripts, as well as additional transcripts to other program partners, including the National Equal Justice Library at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., the Center for Public Policy & Social Research at the Central Connecticut State University, and its latest partner, the Illinois State Library.
Anyone interested in getting involved with transcribing oral histories can contact Irene Cahill, director of research and NCRF programs.