The Generation After Oral History Project sought to document Jewish life in pre-Holocaust Europe. In 1983 volunteers from the Generation After (an organization of children of Holocaust survivors) conducted interviews with 65 Jewish immigrants residing in metropolitan Milwaukee. Interviewers received training from Dr. Michael Phayer, a specialist in German history and European social history at Marquette University. Professor Phayer also conducted several interviews. Subjects were urged to detail Jewish life prior to the Holocaust, rather than recount their experiences during the war years. Questions addressed family life, childrearing, religious practices and traditions, social customs, education, politics, anti-Semitism and the Zionist movement. The interviewees emigrated to Milwaukee between 1946 and 1955 from across Europe, although a large percentage of the subjects were of Polish origin.
In 2008 archival assistants began transcribing the Generation After recordings. In the process they also prepared .WAV and .mp3 digital surrogates of the analog master tapes. In 2011 the archives published a set of 25 interview transcripts for subjects with surnames between A-L. Several of the original recordings were of very poor quality, due to the recording conditions or because of tape degradation, and were not transcribed. Additional interviews (M-Z) will be transcribed as financial support is secured.
Archivists are also compiling a subject index for the Generation After project, currently complete for transcripts A–L. A copy of the index follows each transcript. Users should note that while the text in the transcripts is keyword searchable, the index is not. In other words, a keyword search will not return any results from within the index. This was done intentionally in order to eliminate redundancy and improve overall search effectiveness. For example, if the index was made keyword searchable, and a user included one of its terms in her search, then the search engine would return every transcript as a search result. A rather cumbersome search!
There are no access restrictions to the Generation After transcripts. Most require permission to publish, including both print and online publications. Please consult an archivist if you are interested in an interview, or wish to obtain a digital audio copy of a specific interview.
The Wisconsin Humanities Council provided financial support for the 1983 interviews. Thanks to the 2008-2011 transcription and digitization team, including Jonathan Stepp, Kathryn Bustamante, Ellie Larson, Lucy Waldrop, and Katy Leedy. Questions about the project should be directed to Matt Blessing.