University of Mississippi hosting traveling Holocaust exhibit

The J.D. Williams Library at the University of Mississippi is hosting the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s “Americans and the Holocaust” traveling exhibit from Dec. 1 to Jan. 14.

The library is one of 50 selected for the national tour, which is based on the special exhibit of the same name at the museum in Washington. There was an extensive application process, and only about 20 percent of the applicants will receive the exhibit.

“Being selected to host this exhibition is also significant because there are not many opportunities for people in this area to engage with cultural heritage programming related to the Holocaust,” said Cecelia Parks, research and instruction librarian and assistant professor.

“Hosting this exhibition will help increase knowledge and awareness around this important issue for UM students and the broader north Mississippi community.”

One library staff member also received a paid trip to Washington for an orientation workshop about the exhibit.

The exhibition will provide a rich instructional resource for multiple courses in university curriculum, while also engaging faculty and students at local K-12 schools, according to Noell Wilson, chair of history and Croft associate professor of history and international studies.

“As we develop a museum studies/public history concentration in the College of Liberal Arts, students’ collaboration in the installation and dismantling of the exhibit will provide rare insight into the behind-the-scenes work of exhibitions,” Wilson said.

Based on extensive new research of that period, the “Americans and the Holocaust” exhibit addresses important themes in American history, exploring the many factors — including the Great Depression, isolationism, xenophobia, racism and antisemitism — that influenced decisions made by the U.S. government, news media, organizations and individuals as they responded to Nazism.

Drawing on a remarkable collection of primary sources from the 1930s and ’40s, the exhibition focuses on the stories of individuals and groups of Americans who took action in response 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 as rescue never became a government priority.

A kickoff event, “Southern Jews, World War II and the Holocaust” was scheduled for Dec. 2 at 5:30 p.m. at Bryant Hall, featuring Dan Puckett, professor of history at Troy University and chair of the Alabama Holocaust Commission.

The Jewish Federation of Oxford is hosting a reception at the home of Ariel Baron-Robbins and Isaac Lapciuc on Dec. 9 at 5:30 p.m. A tour of the exhibit is being arranged for earlier in the day.