“Americans and the Holocaust” traveling exhibition coming to OKC

Oklahoma City — The Metropolitan Library System is one of 50 U.S. libraries selected to host Americans and the Holocaust, a traveling exhibition from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum that examines the motives, pressures, and fears that shaped Americans’ responses to Nazism, war and genocide in Europe during the 1930s and 1940s.

(https://www.ushmm.org/information/exhibitions/traveling-exhibitions/americans-and-the-holocaust )

The touring library exhibition — based on the special exhibition of the same name at the Museum in Washington, D.C. — will be at U.S. libraries from 2020 to 2023.

“We are thrilled to be selected from a pool of more than 250 applicants to host this important and powerful exhibition,” said Dr. Larry Nash White, Executive Director for the Metropolitan Library System. “This is a huge honor for our library system.

“I want to encourage community members to come and explore the exhibit to learn from our past,” White added.

“We are also excited to partner with the many school systems and homeschool groups in our service area to host field trips as well. The exhibit will challenge people to not only ask ‘what would I have done?’ but also ‘What will I do?’

“Americans and the Holocaust will be on display at the Downtown Library with a series of related special events at many of our other library locations and throughout the metro area, from January 5 through February 12,” he said.


Based on extensive new research of that period, Americans and the Holocaust 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, the news media, organizations and individuals as they responded to Nazism, according to the press release.

“This exhibition will challenge the commonly held assumptions that Americans knew little and did nothing about the Nazi persecution and murder of Jews as the Holocaust unfolded,” White stated.

Drawing on a vast 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.

The exhibit will challenge 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.

In addition to the traveling exhibition on loan, the Metropolitan Library system received a cash grant to support public programs. The grant also covered one library staff member’s attendance at an orientation workshop at the Museum.

Americans and the Holocaust: A Traveling Exhibition for Libraries is an educational initiative of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the American Library Association.

Americans and the Holocaust was made possible by the generous support of lead sponsors Jeannie & Jonathan Lavine. Additional major funding was provided by the Builders — Joan & Allen z”l, Elisa Spungen & Rob, Nancy & Jim; and Jane and Daniel Och.

The Museum’s exhibitions are also supported by the Lester Robbins and Sheila Johnson Robbins Traveling and Special Exhibitions Fund, established in 1990.

Additional programming support was made possible, in part, by the University of Central Oklahoma and Rose State College.

For more information about Americans and the Holocaust and related programming at Metro, visit metrolibrary.org/aath.

To learn more about the exhibition, visit ushmm.org/americans-ala.

The Metropolitan Library System is a public library system serving Oklahoma County residents with 19 library branch locations. MLS circulates over seven million physical and virtual items each year. For more information, visit metrolibrary.org.

A living memorial to the Holocaust, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum inspires leaders and citizens worldwide to confront hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity. For more information, visit ushmm.org.

The American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more information, visit ala.org.