January 26, 2005 Reactions To Attacks of Sept. 11 Are Subject of New Online Presentation

Contact: Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-9217

The heartfelt reactions, eyewitness accounts and diverse opinions of Americans and others in the months that followed the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and the downing of United Airlines Flight 93 are the subject of a new online presentation, “The September 11, 2001, Documentary Project,” available at http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/911_archive.

Patriotism and unity mixed with sadness, anger and fear are common themes expressed in the sound and video recordings, written narratives, poetry, photographs and drawings that compose this online presentation, which is one of more than 125 thematic collections in the American Memory Web site (http://memory.loc.gov).

The day after the attacks, the American Folklife Center in the Library of Congress called upon the nation’s folklorists and ethnographers to collect, record and document Americans’ reactions. This project is modeled on a similar initiative, conducted 60 years earlier, under folklorist Alan Lomax of the Archive of American Folk Song. On Dec. 8, 1941, Lomax sent a telegram urging folklorists around the United States to collect and record man-on-the-street reactions to the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the subsequent declaration of war by the United States. These field recordings were sent to the Library of Congress, where they were used in a series of radio programs that were distributed to schools and radio stations around the country. This unique documentary collection is still housed at the American Folklife Center and is featured in the American Memory collection “After the Day of Infamy: "Man-on-the-Street" Interviews Following the Attack on Pearl Harbor” at http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/afcphhtml/.

The Sept. 11 presentation includes almost 170 audio and video interviews, 41 graphic materials (photographs and drawings) and 21 written narratives and poems. The voices of men and women from many cultural, occupational and ethnic backgrounds are represented. Some of the interviews are from people who were in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon during the attacks. The majority of the interviews, however, are from other parts of the country -- from those who first heard the news on television or radio, and from teachers, friends, family and other members of their communities. In all, materials were received from 27 states and a U.S. military base in Naples, Italy.

The American Folklife Center was created by Congress in 1976 and placed at the Library of Congress to "preserve and present American folklife" through programs of research, documentation, archival presentation, reference service, live performance, exhibition, public programs and training. The center includes the Archive of Folk Culture, which was established in 1928 and is now one of the largest collections of ethnographic material from the United States and around the world.

American Memory is a project of the Library of Congress. Its more than 125 collections, which range from the papers of U.S. presidents, Civil War photographs and early films of Thomas Edison to papers documenting the women’s suffrage and civil rights movements, Jazz Age photographs and the first baseball cards, include more than 9.5 million items from the Library of Congress and other major repositories. The latest Web site from the Library is the monthly Wise Guide (www.loc.gov/wiseguide), which demonstrates that “It’s Fun to Know History.”


PR 05-009
ISSN 0731-3527