Graduation Year

Spring 2014

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Department

Anthropology

Second Department

Psychology

Reader 1

Seo Young Park

Reader 2

Sheila Walker

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© 2014 Rachel L. Fidler

Abstract

The development of Holocaust museums in the United States has created employment opportunities in Holocaust education. Paid staff and volunteers at Holocaust museums represent a distinct niche of professionals in these fields. This thesis explored personal perspectives and backgrounds of staff and volunteers, motivations for pursuing Holocaust education careers, translation of Holocaust information to visitors and student groups, and the role staff in different departments play alongside museum content. Employees and volunteers at two Holocaust museums participated in semi-structured interviews and open-ended survey questionnaires. The results from subsequently coded interviews and survey responses indicate that personal connections, through family, academic study, or other job positions, feelings of fulfillment at work, and passion for active translation and participation within the surrounding community were demonstrated by most employees and volunteers, especially those with high visitor interaction and engagement. Furthermore, perceptions of Holocaust museums as spaces of heaviness and solemnity, framed by the deaths of millions, were accepted but generally not related to the personal experience of Holocaust museum staff; thought Holocaust museums were created out of an event of mass death and destruction, the museums are spaces of life. Staff and volunteers at my research sites expressed feeling very fulfilled and inspired by the work they do as Holocaust educators.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff. It is not available for interlibrary loan. Please send a request for access through Contact Us.

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