Grant Support Materials: Programming Requirements


Programming Requirements

Libraries selected to host the Americans and the Holocaust exhibit are responsible for the following:

  • Present at least four public programs, events, or activities related to the themes explored in the exhibition during your library's host period.
  • One of the programs must be for high school or university students.
  • Only programs held within a site’s host period will qualify towards the four required programs; however, programming held prior to a site’s host period should also be included in the Final Report.
  • All programs must be free to the public.
  • Programs can take place in-person, virtually, or with a combination of in-person and virtual components.
  • All programs must include a live/synchronous component with opportunities for audience engagement with the speakers and subject matter.

Programs may include an opening event for the exhibition and/or educational programs and activities offered in collaboration with community organizations, schools, universities, community colleges, or government agencies. Any one of these programs may be combined with the opening event. We encourage libraries hosting opening events to include an educational component that provides framing and context to help visitors understand what they are about to see.

All programs planned in conjunction with the exhibition must be respectful of the history of the Holocaust, the memorial nature of the Museum's work, and the Holocaust survivor community. Museum staff is available to advise on possible programming and reserves the right to request changes to planned programs.


Grounded in new research, this Initiative widens the aperture on the complexity of the United States in the 1930s and ‘40s, and challenges the assumptions of our audiences.

The Americans and the Holocaust Initiative aims to reach a broad public audience, with special emphasis on high school and college students and thought leaders.

The traveling exhibition is intended to encourage Americans across the country to reflect on and have conversations about this history and consider our responsibilities in the world today. With the exhibition, the Museum aims to provide Holocaust education resources to communities with demonstrated need for access and exposure to the history. The traveling exhibition specifically aims to reach student audiences, campus communities, and new audiences.

Potential Programming Topics

  • American Responses to the Holocaust
  • Local Connections to Holocaust/WWII History
  • US News/Media
  • Immigration/Refugee Experiences
  • 1936 Olympics
  • Japanese Internment
  • Survivor Testimony
  • Film/Pop Culture Responses to the Holocaust

Making Thoughtful Connections Between Past and Present

This exhibition addresses important themes in American history, exploring the many factors -- including the Great Depression, isolationism, xenophobia, racism and antisemitism -- that influenced the decisions made by the U.S. government, the news media, organizations and individuals as they responded to Nazism.

It challenges visitors to consider the responsibilities and obstacles faced by individuals -- from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to ordinary Americans -- who made difficult choices, sought to effect change, and, in a few cases, took significant risks to help victims of Nazism even as rescue never became a government priority.

The themes of this exhibition - debate, American ideals and political realities, questions about presidential leadership and public sentiment, and national priorities - are timeless. Visitors will inevitably make connections to contemporary issues and find the exhibition relevant to their lives and to our society today.

A few guidelines for making contemporary connections are:

  1. Reinforce that, as Elie Wiesel stated at the Museum’s founding, the exhibit is not designed to provide answers, but rather to provoke new questions, inquiry, critical thinking, and reflection among our visitors. It is always best to stay focused on the history and to let visitors make their own connections.
  2. Avoid simplistic and direct comparisons (i.e., “This is just like today.”) Every event has its distinct features and dynamics, which are important to understand. When we say something is “just like the Holocaust," it removes the opportunity for people to think critically about the distinctions between historical periods. Overly simplistic comparisons distort both the particulars of Holocaust history and the contemporary events being compared.
  3. Assist visitors in considering the relevance of the history as it relates to broad themes and timeless, enduring questions. Examples are below:
    • Knowledge of ongoing atrocities does not always lead to action. What conditions might motivate people to help each other? What conditions might make people turn away?
    • With so many news stories breaking every day, in what ways could Americans today confront hatred, promote human dignity, and work to prevent genocide?
    • This exhibition shows us the impact immigration policy can have on individual lives. What can we learn from the actions and decisions made by American policy makers and government officials in the 1930s and 1940s?
    • Throughout this historical time period, Americans debated the role the United States should have in relation to the rest of the world. These debates continue today. What debates are similar today? What debates are different? How has the U.S. role in the world changed since and as a result of the Holocaust?

The Museum respectfully requests that libraries avoid developing programs that are political in nature, distracting from the importance of the history and the opportunity to reach those from a variety of backgrounds and political affiliation.

Guidelines for Teaching About the Holocaust

Teaching Holocaust history requires a high level of sensitivity and keen awareness of the complexity of the subject matter. The following guidelines reflect approaches appropriate for effective teaching in general and are particularly relevant to Holocaust education.

Virtual/Hybrid Programming

All virtual and hybrid programs must include a component of audience participation for those attending virtually. Programs should provide opportunities for active participation from members of your community, not simply passive programming for audience members to watch. Preferred platforms may be determined by the host site.

General Resources from ALA on Planning Virtual/Hybrid Programs

Below are some resources from ALA’s Public Program Office on general best practices for successful virtual and hybrid library programs:

Hybrid Programming Resource Round-up

Virtual Programming Resource Round-up

7 Ways to Make Your Virtual Program More Accessible to Patrons with Disabilities

USHMM Virtual Program Resources

  1. If program participants are unable to visit the on-site exhibition, introduce the themes of the exhibition using resources below:
  1. The Museum has a monthly virtual program called First Person, which features Holocaust survivors sharing their experiences in their own words.
  2. Visit the Hear From a Survivor webpage if you would like to arrange your own virtual program with a Holocaust survivor speaker for students and teachers in your community.
  3. Stay Connected Live are short recorded Facebook Live programs that lend themselves to fruitful discussions on the exhibition themes. The full playlist of over 70 programs, including some that relate to American responses to the Holocaust, are found here on the Museum's YouTube channel.

If you have any questions regarding whether your planned virtual event will satisfy the programming requirement, please contact Eric Schmalz.