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On View: March 18, 2010
to April 18, 2010

Letters of Conscience

Raphael Lemkin and the Quest to End Genocide

On view: March 18, 2010 to April 18, 2010

Raphael Lemkin devoted most of his life to studying and writing about genocide, a term he coined to draw international attention to a crime that had no name. He also actively campaigned for international laws that would protect ethnic, racial, religious and national groups. His most intensive efforts focused on the drafting, adoption, and ratification of the 1948 United Nations Genocide Convention.

When Lemkin died in 1959, he left an extensive trove of correspondence and papers documenting his work, as well as treatises on the meaning and impact of genocide. Today, many of those papers are held in the archives of the American Jewish Historical Society, from which most of the artifacts used in this exhibition are drawn. Additional collections are located at the New York Public Library and the American Jewish Archives in Cincinnati.

Together, they provide an important resource and source of inspiration for new generations of scholars, human rights advocates, diplomats, and activists who continue to wrestle with the crime of genocide, which, sadly, continues to occur in the world today.