The Oskar Schindler Archive has been fortunate to have Will Hoskin as an Archivist Intern since September 2021. He is an Animation and Visual Effects major and a Holocaust History minor and has utilized a cross-disciplinary approach to working in an Archive. Will was kind enough to answer some questions for us.
How did you get involved with the Sala and Aron Samueli Holocaust Memorial Library and Oskar Schindler Archive?
When I was a sophomore here at Chapman, I began looking into some history classes to fill my GEs. I came across Dr. Harran’s Germany and the Holocaust class, and enrolled. I loved history in high school and wanted to continue in that pursuit. Early on in Dr. Harran’s class, I felt a sense of urgency in studying the Holocaust, since so few survivors are still alive today. I realized that studying the Holocaust at Chapman might be my only chance to interact with survivors while they are still with us. . I ended up signing up for the Holocaust History minor and loved how small and personal the minor is. After I completed my senior thesis, I was brought on as the archive’s first intern.
What interested you to work in an archive?
I love object-oriented history that centers on the daily lives of people in the past. I’m interested in specific research on topics and individuals that may be overlooked in the overarching narrative of the Holocaust. Working in the archive allowed me to not only do that kind of research, but also to learn the archival process.
What projects have you worked on since you’ve been in the Oskar Schindler Archive?
During my time at the archive, I have focused almost entirely on the Leopold and Isabelle Szneer collection. When I arrived, a collection of photos had recently been donated by a family member. I have helped with researching, rehousing, and organizing the collection, and I am currently working on creating finding aids for it. In addition to bringing the collection through the archival process, with the help of Tiana, I have been working on a short animated film that illustrates aspects of Cantor Szneer’s testimony.
What interesting items have you encountered working on this collection?
There is one photo of Cantor Szneer posing with his Oldsmobile after moving to Hollywood after the war. It stuck out to me because of how candid and relatable his posture is. The Holocaust can sometimes feel like an alien landscape, so unlike our own reality. Photos like this are grounding, personal, and give a window into what life was like after the Holocaust as survivors sought to build new lives..
You are an Animation and Visual Effects major, how have you utilized your background in animation while working in the archive?
I have been amazed how similar animation and working in the archives are. While animation may seem like a fully creative and expressive medium, in reality it requires a tremendous amount of organization and tedious attention to detail. From organizing data to understanding file formats and image compression, I felt like I was able to apply a lot of my understanding about animation to the archives. I am also working on some animation to help tell Cantor Szneer’s story, which has pushed me to combine my experience in research and in art.
What are you currently reading?
I just finished reading Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons. It’s a not-so-uplifting far future space saga sequel to Hyperion, and I found it to be delightful. I also just started The Biography of the Pixel by Alvy Ray Smith, who co-founded Pixar.
Any fun facts about yourself?
I can whistle almost exactly like one of those wooden train whistles. I have no idea how I learned how to do it, but I’ve never met anyone else who can replicate it.