August 15, 2003 Library Accepts September 11 Digital Archive, Holds Symposium

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The Library of Congress will mark its first major digital acquisition of September 11, 2001, materials with the addition to its collections of the September 11 Digital Archive ( The September 11 Digital Archive is a joint project of the City University of New York Graduate Center’s American Social History Project and George Mason University’s Center for History and New Media—two institutions that have explored digital history for more than a decade.

On Sept. 10 the Library of Congress will formally accept the material, which contains more than 130,000 written accounts, e-mails, audio recordings, video clips, photographs, Web sites and other materials that document the attacks on New York City, Washington, D.C., and western Pennsylvania and their aftermath. These items will provide researchers with a major source of information about the attacks.

"Even in the midst of the initial chaos of the horrific events of September 11, 2001, the Library of Congress began collecting materials documenting the attacks," said Diane Kresh, director of the Library's Public Service Collections. "Since that time the Library has been amassing material through its public service divisions and overseas offices. This September 11 Digital Archive, with its vast content of firsthand accounts, will add to the broad range and diversity of materials already acquired by the Library of Congress that relate to the September 11 tragedy."

These digital materials offer a wide spectrum of opinions and perspectives, ranging from recordings of Manhattan residents’ voice mails on the morning of September 11 to drawings by children from Los Angeles depicting the attacks. "As with other collective historical events," said Eric Foner, Columbia University DeWitt Clinton Professor of History, "the memory of September 11 will be an essential part of historical understanding in the future. By preserving the raw material of history—which now includes evidence recorded in digital form—the September 11 Digital Archive will help contribute to subsequent generations’ understanding of the past and, therefore, of themselves."

The archive is the largest digital collection of September 11-related materials, serving as the Smithsonian Institution’s designated repository for digital objects related to the attacks. The availability of these materials in the Library of Congress will prove invaluable to future historians and researchers.

To mark the acquisition of the September 11 Digital Archive, the Library of Congress will host a daylong symposium, "September 11 as History: Collecting Today for Tomorrow." The event, which will take place beginning at 9 a.m. in the Library’s Coolidge Auditorium on Sept. 10, will feature commentary by leading U.S. historians, librarians and archivists, including Ronald Walters, University of Maryland, and Michael Kazin, Georgetown University.

Kazin’s address "12/12 and 9/11: Tales of Power and Tales of Experience in Contemporary History," will be delivered at 3 p.m. The symposium is free and open to the public. The Coolidge Auditorium is on the ground floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E.

Those planning to attend are asked to register online at the symposium’s Web site at

The event will culminate in an evening reception during which the Library of Congress will formally accept the September 11 Digital Archive as part of its holdings.

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, which has had a longstanding interest in fostering the use of the Internet to collect and preserve the past, provided the funding that launched the September 11 Digital Archive.


PR 03-142
ISSN 0731-3527