Frequently Asked Questions

Questions

General

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Data content of the EHRI portal

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Searching the EHRI portal

Browsing the EHRI portal

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Structured data and APIs

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Signing up/creating a profile

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Additional functionality for registered users

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Further help/feedback

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Answers

General

What is EHRI?

EHRI stands for European Holocaust Research Infrastructure. The EHRI project brings together an international consortium of archives, libraries, museums, memorial and research institutions. The overriding aim of EHRI is to support the Holocaust research communities by opening up an online portal that provides access to information about Holocaust-related archives and collections across Europe and beyond, and by encouraging collaborative research through the development of tools. The first phase of the EHRI project (October 2010-March 2015) was funded by the European Union’s FP7 programme. The current and second phase is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme and will conclude in April 2019. More information on the EHRI project can be found on the project website.

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What is the EHRI portal?

The evolving EHRI online portal is one of the key outcomes of the EHRI project. It is an online environment that provides users with free access to rich information about Holocaust-related archives and collections across Europe and beyond. It further provides users with a range of tools to find, explore, organise and share such information.

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How can I get involved in EHRI?

There are several ways by which you can keep yourself informed about, and benefit from, EHRI’s activities:

  • Explore the EHRI portal: The EHRI portal can be freely used by anyone with an interested in the Holocaust.
  • Get access to advanced EHRI portal functionality: Certain portal functionalities are reserved for registered users. Registration is free and open to everyone.
  • Contribute your knowledge to the EHRI portal: as a registered user you can add notes to the information about countries, archival institutions and archival collections contained in the EHRI portal. You can thereby help us to enhance the portal’s information base and to correct mistakes.
  • Get up-to-date information about the project’s progress and forthcoming events and activities: subscribe to the EHRI email list.
  • Suggest the inclusion of  additional archives and archival collections in the EHRI portal: if you know of Holocaust-related archives and collections that are currently not included in the EHRI portal, please get in touch with us via feedback@ehri-project.eu.

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Which internet browser should I use to explore the EHRI portal?

The EHRI portal should work on all recent versions of Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Internet Explorer 9 and above. Internet Explorer 8 and below are not supported.

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Data content of the EHRI portal

 

What type of information is available via the EHRI portal?

The EHRI portal contains country reports providing concise per-country information on the Holocaust history, archival situation and research EHRI has undertaken. The portal further provides access to descriptions of archival institutions that hold Holocaust-relevant sources as well as descriptions of Holocaust-relevant materials.

The country reports frame EHRI’s identification work, and more information on our identification method is available in a general introduction to the country reports.

The portal also offers thematic research guides which are based on selected sets of more detailed, low level, archival descriptions.

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How did EHRI identify archival institutions that hold Holocaust-related materials?

Holocaust-relevant archival institutions included in the portal have been identified by using the following major sources:

  • the Directory of Holocaust-Related Archives (Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany)
  • the Guide des archives sur la Shoah (Mémorial de la Shoah)
  • an overview list of institutions with which Yad Vashem worked together and has copied archival material from
  • an overview of restitution and compensation archives from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany

 

For some countries, additional information was gathered from:

  • the online catalogue of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
  • specific additions from national archival guides, experts, and published studies on the subject

While the main tracing services relevant to the Holocaust have been covered by EHRI, further investigation may yield more insights (for a list, see: https://www.icrc.org/eng/resources/documents/misc/tracing_offices.htm).

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How did EHRI select collections for the EHRI portal?

EHRI wishes to keep the portal as open-ended as possible; therefore, all collection descriptions on Holocaust-relevant materials are welcome in the portal. When authoring descriptions of archival materials itself, EHRI focused on the period from 30 January 1933 to today. An exception was made for victim sources (sources from Jews or people considered as Jews under Nazi rule, or victim organizations); victim sources on Jewish life at the eve of the persecution, including the interwar period have been included. Our first  geographical focus was on Germany and Eastern Europe, the main crime site of the Holocaust, our second one on other occupied countries and Axis countries, and our final one on other countries such as refugee countries. EHRI used a top-down approach: from national, to regional, to local, to individual. A collection is considered a Holocaust-related collection if it contains one file on the Holocaust.

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How were descriptions of archival materials integrated into the EHRI portal?

EHRI brought together both existing descriptions on Holocaust-relevant materials and wrote new descriptions. The following method was used for:

New descriptions authored by EHRI: EHRI staff wrote new descriptions for archival sources which either had not been described yet, or for which the existing descriptions did not clearly indicate the presence of Holocaust-relevant materials. Up to March 2015 EHRI authored descriptions for archives in Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway and Ukraine, and the work needs to be continued. The EHRI-authored descriptions conform to international standards for archival descriptions, and are linked to EHRI authority files and terms derived from an EHRI thesaurus.

Existing descriptions (not authored by EHRI): in cases where collection-holding institutions or others (such as authors of research guides or archival aggregators) had already described Holocaust-relevant material in a machine-readable format and provided us with access to their data, we have imported their existing descriptions into the portal. In such cases we have mapped local metadata schemas to our own, but have otherwise not significantly altered the content of the descriptions, nor linked them to EHRI authority files or keywords.

The information provided in the field “Descriptions Source” allows you to distinguish between these two types of descriptions. The fields “Process Info” “Archivist Note” and “Rules and Conventions” as well as the “online history” information box available on the right-hand side of the screen provide additional information about the authoring, selection and integration of descriptions into the EHRI portal.

The methodology for the identification of collections is explained in the extensive reports of the respective countries. The identification and integration work of Holocaust sources is ongoing. As such, the portal is a growing resource.

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I can find many descriptions of archival materials for some countries but only few for others? Why is this and is this still going to change?

The identification of sources is an ongoing effort. Differences in detail of information for certain countries and archives should become less significant as more descriptions are added to the EHRI portal.

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What did EHRI do when multiple sources of information on archival materials exist?

Holocaust-related archival materials are often described by more than one source. For instance, a given collection may be described by the holding institution itself, by another institution holding a copy of the collection, by a third-party research guide on Jewish Sources or on the Second World War, and so on. All these descriptions can be helpful for a researcher as they have a different focus on the material being described and are often written in different languages. EHRI wishes to offer all these sources of information. Therefore, individual descriptions that relate to the same material are inter-linked and treated as parallel descriptions.

Information about the existence of parallel descriptions, and a mechanism to switch between them, is provided in the box labelled “Archival description” that is available on the right-hand side of the screen when viewing a description of archival materials. Links to other items are displayed at the end of the description, under “Other Connected Items”.

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Which languages are used in the EHRI portal?

All country reports and descriptions of archival institutions are written in English. Descriptions of archival materials that are authored by EHRI are written in English. However, when existing descriptions of archival materials were available in languages other than English, they are integrated in their original language. On the difference between EHRI-authored descriptions and descriptions authored by others, see here.

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Did EHRI use a thesaurus/authority files?

EHRI developed a thesaurus which is available in ten languages as well as authority files for corporate bodies and persons. Descriptions of archival materials authored by EHRI were consistently indexed with subject terms and authorities. For the already existing collection descriptions which were integrated in the EHRI portal, the mapping of keywords with the EHRI thesaurus and authority files is in a test phase.

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Which archival standards have been used by EHRI to structure the data in the EHRI portal?

EHRI worked with Guidelines for Descriptions that are in accordance with the standards of the International Council on Archives (ICA): the International Standard for Describing Institutions with Archival Holdings (ISDIAH, for archival institutions); the General International Standard Archival Description (ISAD(G), for archival descriptions); and the International Standard Archival Authority Record for Corporate Bodies, Persons and Families (ISAAR(CPF), for authority records for corporate bodies, persons and families). For more information on these standards see http://www.ica.org/10206/standards/standards-list.html.

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What are the "research guides"?

The aim of the EHRI research guides is to create comprehensive, innovative and easy to use tools that bring together dispersed and fragmented archival material from different archives and empower further research. In the guides, we test new approaches that combine detailed descriptions from the EHRI portal with narrative information and new ways to visualise the data.

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Is the data presented in the research guides also available in the EHRI portal and vice versa?

The archival descriptions collected for the research guides are stored and available through the EHRI portal, as well as through the dedicated user interface. The guides typically contain detailed archival descriptions for selected archival material, going down to file or even document level in some cases.

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I have found factually incorrect or incomplete information in the portal. How can I alert you about this?

We do our utmost to provide high quality information in the portal. We therefore welcome your feedback if you detect any inaccuracies or omissions in any of the information we provide about countries, archival institutions and archival materials.

You can alert us about such problems in two ways.

  • Public note: if you are a registered user of the portal, you can add a public note to the relevant description that explains the nature of the problem you have detected.
  • Via email: send us an email with relevant details to feedback@ehri-project.eu.

 

Depending on the nature of your feedback and on whether the problematic information was written by EHRI or by a partner institution, we may either correct and/or enhance the description directly, add a note to the description, and/or alert the partner institution that has authored the description.

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Does EHRI offer access to the archival materials that are described in the EHRI portal?

No, the EHRI portal contains descriptions of Holocaust-related archival materials. It does not offer access to these materials (or to digital surrogates thereof). If you want to access archival materials described on the EHRI portal, you need to check the access options and policies of the relevant holding institutions.

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Searching the EHRI portal

What different kind of searches does the EHRI portal offer?

The EHRI portal supports three different types of searches.

Global search: a global search locates information across all the data content of the EHRI portal. This search is available from the portal’s homepage. Simply enter a keyword or phrase into the search box provided, and click on “search”.

Category search: Alternatively, you can search within one of three predefined categories of information (countries; archival institutions; archival descriptions). Select the appropriate category from the menubar, and then perform your search using the search box provided.

Faceted search/filtering of result lists: For both global and category searches a list of facets is available on the right-hand side of the screen. Facets enable you to narrow the scope of your initial search and/or to filter your result lists. The facets that are available depend on the type of search you perform. More information on available facets per search type can be found here.

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What facets are available to narrow my searches/filter my result list?

Depending on the kind of search you perform, you can use different facets to narrow the scope of your initial search and/or to filter the returned result list. You can find these facets on the right-hand side of the screen. The following facets are available:

Global search:

  • Language of description: only return descriptions written in the specified language(s).
  • Item type: only return descriptions of a certain type (i.e. country reports, archival institutions, archival descriptions).        

Category search - Countries:

  • Catalogued material available: only return country reports for which descriptions of archival materials are available.
  • Level of detail: only return country reports that provide either a low, medium or high degree of detail.

Category search - Archival institutions:

  • Catalogued material available: only return descriptions of archival institutions for which descriptions of archival materials are available.
  • Level of detail: only return descriptions of archival institutions that provide either a low, medium or high degree of detail.

Category search - Archival descriptions:

  • Level of detail: only return descriptions of archival materials that provide either a low, medium or high degree of detail.
  • Language of description: only return descriptions of archival materials written in the specified language(s).
  • Structure: only return descriptions of archival materials that are either a single item or a container for other items. A container item would, for instance, be a collection-level description that contains one or several record-level descriptions.
  • Description Source: only return descriptions of archival materials that have either been authored by EHRI staff or that have been derived from structured data provided to EHRI by a partner institution. For more information on these two different sources of descriptions of archival materials, see here.

You can freely combine different facets to iteratively narrow your search results.

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Does the EHRI portal support advanced searches?

No matter whether you perform a global search or a search within a defined category, you can limit your search to certain fields (title or identifier), and you can employ operators to render your query more specific.

Use the following syntax to exclusively search through the titles or identifiers of descriptions:

  • title:”phrase”        For instance, you can find all descriptions that have the phrase “Auschwitz Birkenau” in their titles by searching for title:”Auschwitz Birkenau” .
  • identifier:identifier        This is useful if you already know the local identifier of a description. For instance, the query identifier:irn502192 will return the description of the collection “KL Auschwitz-Birkenau” of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) that is identified at the USHMM by “irn502192”.

The following fields are currently available:

  • identifier
  • title
  • creator
  • person
  • place
  • subject

In addition, the following operators can be used to render your searches more specific:

  • "Phrase"        Search an exact match of your query, e.g. "Concentration Camp"
  • +Phrase        Given word has to be in the result, e.g. +Gestapo
  • -Phrase        Exclude given word from search, e.g. -Gestapo

You can freely combine these operators. For instance, the query +Criminals -"Nuremberg Military Tribunals" will return all descriptions that contain the word “Criminals” but do not mention “Nuremberg Military Tribunals”.

You can also use boolean operators such as AND and OR to combine clauses, for example:

  • identifier:O.64 OR title:"oral history"

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How can I search in the research guides? Does it differ from the portal-wide search?

The data in the research guides can be researched both through the portal-wide search as well as through the dedicated interface. When searching through the portal, the data included in the guides will be listed together with other relevant results, whereas the search within a guide is limited its data only. The guides also allow for browsing on data such as people, places, organisations or keywords which isn't available in the portal-wide search.

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Browsing the EHRI portal

What browsing strategies does the EHRI portal support?

The EHRI portal provides extensive support for browsing. You can freely browse through all available country reports, archival institutions and archival descriptions by selecting the appropriate category of information from the portal’s menu bar.  By using the facets available on the right-hand side of your screen and/or by entering search terms, you can combine searching and browsing to find appropriate information.

In addition to supporting browsing through lists of information objects relating to a particular category (country reports; archival institutions; archival descriptions), the portal offers two additional browse strategies: hierarchical browsing and browsing by relationship.

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How does hierarchical browsing work?

Hierarchical browsing follows the hierarchical structure of the EHRI portal in two ways.

First, the different categories of information contained in the portal are arranged hierarchically: i.e. each archival description relates to the holdings of an archival institution which is located in a country. One possible hierarchical browsing strategy would be to start with a country that is of interest, then find the archival institution located in this country that is most relevant, to finally end up with a list of archival descriptions of the holdings of this institution.

Second, many archival institutions describe their holdings in a hierarchical manner: i.e. a top-level collection description may lead to one or several file descriptions, each of which may further lead to one or several item descriptions, and so on. The EHRI portal provides an open-ended mechanism by which you can navigate and search through such hierarchical structures of archival descriptions.

Whenever you browse through such hierarchies, you can find the related child items of the description you are currently viewing towards the bottom of the screen. You can either browse through such lists of child items or perform a search using the search box provided. The information box labelled ‘’Archival Context’’ that is available whenever you view an archival description, provides you with a concise overview of the hierarchy of the description you are currently viewing.

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How does browsing by relationship work?

You can browse across archival descriptions contained in the EHRI portal by following non-hierarchical relationships. Archival descriptions are intermittently connected if the archival holdings they describe have been created by the same person, family or corporate body, or if their content relates to the same individual/family/corporate body, subject, or place.

You can follow such relationship by clicking on the entries for the fields “Creator”, “Person”, “Family”, “Corporate Bodies”, “Subject”, or “Place” of any given archival description. You are then redirected to a page where other related archival descriptions are listed towards the bottom of the screen.

Please note that such non-hierarchical relationships have so far not been comprehensively implemented in the EHRI portal. We have only explicitly connected those archival descriptions that have been authored by EHRI staff. In practice this means that the list of related descriptions that pertain to, for instance, the subject term “Propaganda” is not complete. Indeed, if you performed a search with the same subject term, you would get additional results.

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Structured Data and APIs

Does the EHRI portal have an API?

Yes, at present two different APIs are available: a JSON-based search API, and a GraphQL API. See the API home page for details.

What other forms of structured data are available?

The portal provides the means to export archival descriptions, institution descriptions, and authority files as XML using, respectively, the Encoded Archival Description (EAD 2002), Encoded Archival Guide (EAG 2012) and Encoded Archival Context (EAC 2010) standards. These files are dynamically generated from the portal’s database.

See the “Export” section on the right hand side of each item page.

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Signing-up/creating a profile

What are the benefits of signing up/creating a profile?

The EHRI portal can be freely used by anyone, and no registration is required.

However, if you decide to sign-up to the portal, you can benefit from additional functionality and features:

Profile: you can create a profile about yourself that is viewable by all other registered users. This is a great way of letting other Holocaust researcher know about your research interests and expertise. Exploring the profiles of other EHRI users might also help you to locate potential collaborators for your research.

Additional functionality: some features of the portal such as note-taking, watching of items, or contacting and following other users are exclusively available to registered users of the portal.

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How can I sign-up/create a profile?

On the homepage, click on “Sign In / Register” in the upper right corner. Next, you will be taken to the login page. Since you don’t have an account yet, click on “Register”. Now enter some basic information about yourself: Your Name (this can be anything you would like it to be: first name, full name, surname, nickname, username), email address, and the password you want to use. Confirm the password, tick the agreement to the terms and conditions and data policy and click on “Register”.

Alternatively, you can sign-up by using one of the external accounts provided: Google, Facebook, Yahoo.

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How can I change my password?

First, Sign In to your account. Once on your profile page, click on the “Edit Profile” button in the right sidebar. Next, you will be taken to the Edit Profile page. Click on the link “Click here to change your password”. Type in your Current Password and New Password in the designated areas and confirm the new password. Click “Submit”.

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I’ve lost my password - how can I get a new one?

On the front page, click on “Sign In / Register” in the upper right corner. Next, you will be taken to the login page. Click on the link “Click here if you've forgotten or lost your password” in the Sign In section, at the bottom of the page, right before the Sign In button. Next, you will be redirected to the Reset Password page. Enter the email you used to sign up with in the designated space and you will receive a link via email that you can use to reset the password.

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How can I delete my profile?

First, Sign In to your account. Once in your profile page, click on the “Edit Profile” button in the right sidebar. Next, you will be taken to the Edit Profile page. Click on the red button “Click here to delete your profile” at the very bottom of the page. Next, you are redirected to the Delete Account page. Read the warning message and if you still want to delete your account, type your name in the designated space and click the “Delete Account” red button.

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Additional functionality for registered users

How can I find the profile of another registered user of the EHRI portal?

First Sign In to your account. Click on the “People” item on the left-hand side of the top menu-bar. You can now locate users by either browsing through the list or by entering a name in the search box provided. To access a user’s profile, click on his/her name.

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How can I contact another registered user of the EHRI portal?

Navigate to the profile of the user you want to contact by following these steps. Once on the user’s profile page, click the link labelled “Contact User” on the right-hand side of the screen, underneath the user’s profile picture. If the “Contact User” link is not available, the user in question has opted-out from being contactable, and you will not be able to get in touch with him/her via the EHRI portal. Otherwise, write your message into the form provided, and send it by clicking on the “Send Message” button.

Please note that the email address you have provided when you signed up to the portal will be sent together with your message to the contacted user.

Please also note that you can opt-out from being contactable by other users by changing your profile preferences at http://portal.ehri-project.eu/profile/edit.

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How can I follow another EHRI user?

By following another user his or her public interactions with information contained in the portal show up in your activity feed, for instance when he/she writes a public note. Your activity feed is available on your profile page which you access by clicking on your profile picture on the right-hand side of the top menu bar.

To follow a user you first need to locate his or her profile by following the steps described here. Once you are on the profile page of the relevant user, click the “Follow” button on the right-hand side of the screen, underneath the user’s profile picture.

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How can I watch an item?

All information items contained on the portal (country reports, archival institutions, archival descriptions) are watchable. By watching an item you can easily access it at any time via your profile page. Simply click on the “Watched items” link that is available on the right-hand side of your profile page to get a clickable list of all your watched items. In addition, changes to items you watch will be reported in your activity feed that is also available from your profile page.

To watch an item, you need to be signed-in. You can either watch an item by clicking on the “Watch Item” button available on the right-hand side of the screen of the item’s page, or by clicking on a “✰”-symbol available next to the name of items in browsing/search result lists.

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How can I add a private note to an item?

You can add a note to any information item contained on the portal (country reports, archival institutions, archival descriptions). You can either add a note that relates to the item as a whole, or to a particular field (for instance the “archival history” of an archival description).

To add a note to an item, you need to be signed-in. Once you are on the item’s page, you can add a general note by clicking on the “Add Note” link that is available at the end of the item’s description. If you want to add a note to a particular field, click on the “Add Note” link that appears when you hover over the field’s title.

You can see a clickable list of all the notes you have created by clicking on the “Notes” link that is available on the right-hand side of your profile page.

By default, all notes that you create are private to you and nobody else can access them. If you would like to make a note available to all other registered users, please follow the instructions provided here.

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How can I add a public note to an item?

Follow the instructions of how to create a private note provided here. Before you save your note by clicking on the “Add note” button make sure that you unclick the “Private Note” tickbox.

Please note that all public notes will be reviewed by EHRI moderators before they are made available to other registered users. This is to ensure that no inappropriate content is published on the EHRI portal. Please ensure that you comply with our Terms & Conditions in regard to User-generated content and Copyright before you add a public note.

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When is it appropriate to add a public note to an item?

There are many different circumstances when you might want to add a public note to an item, and the examples given below are by no means exhaustive. If in doubt, you can contact us via info@ehri-project.eu.

  • To alert us and other users about factual mistakes in descriptions. If you report a factual mistake in any of the portal’s descriptions via a public note, we will either endeavour to correct the description itself and/or to publish your correction alongside the description.
  • To enhance a given description by providing additional relevant information. You may have relevant knowledge about a country, an archival institution or a description of archival material that goes beyond the information we provide. In such cases adding a public note enables you to share your knowledge with other Holocaust researchers.

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Further help/feedback

I can’t find an answer to my question - where can I get further help?

There are a variety of ways by which you can get further help or get in touch with us in case you have any questions.

  • for all question in relation to our data/privacy policies, please contact privacy@ehri-project.eu.
  • if you have any questions about the holdings and access policies of any of the archives that contribute data to the EHRI portal, please contact the appropriate archive directly, using the contact information provided in its institutional description.
  • if you have a general question about Holocaust-related archival sources, but are not sure which contributing archive could answer your question, use the EHRI helpdesk.
  • for all other questions or if you’d like to make a comment, compliment or complaint about the EHRI portal, you can either use the “feedback” menu item on the top-menu bar of the portal, or send us an email at feedback@ehri-project.eu.

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