Digital Preservation of at-risk records at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Cambodia


UNESCO partnered with DDD and The Brechin Group Inc to digitize and preserve the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum archives of Cambodia to recognize its historical importance and increase awareness about the Cambodian genocide. The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, a Cambodian high-school-turned-prison by the Khmer Rouge in 1975, has a collection of over 400,000 documents. The archive contains photographs of over 6,000 prisoners, as well as elaborate handwritten “confessions” to real and imagined offenses, many extracted under torture, and other biographical records of prisoners and prison guards.

Together, DDD and Brechin undertook an extensive project to digitize the collection, assessing and improving conditions for optimal preservation. After receiving indexing and technical metadata training from Brechin, DDD associates were able to digitized the fragile collection. Approximately 400,000 documents were indexed and descriptive metadata was added. The digital files were then complied into a database in English and Khmer.

Additionally, Brechin trained the Tuol Sleng museum staff in preservation, digitization, and indexing techniques to continue preserving the collection as needed. Currently, DDD associates are building the website to host and disseminate the educational resources to thousands of online visitors.