Today in History ordinarily presents events that happened at least twenty-five years in the past, but this day is an exception.
Within hours of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Library of Congress staff began to call for and collect a vast array of original materials concerning the attacks on the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon, and the fate of United Airlines Flight 93 which crashed into the earth at Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Library staff worked in concert with many others to chronicle the events and to collect related material in a wide variety of formats related to 9/11—for example, photographs, comic book illustrations, magazines, posters, and fine art.
This array of materials forms a part of the permanent record of the reactions and responses of everyday people, the heroic resolve of firefighters and rescue workers, and the diverse views of the international community regarding the terrorist attacks. The Library’s permanent collections grew to include information on surrounding events such as the ongoing recovery efforts, the need for blood donors, television coverage, the anthrax scare, calls for peace, the bombing of Afghanistan and the relief effort, issues of security, and memorials to the victims.
On September 12, 2001, the American Folklife Center called upon folklorists and ethnographers across the nation “to document the immediate reactions of average Americans.” Listen to an October 22 interview with Heather Coffman of Norman, Oklahoma. More interviews are available in the September 11, 2001, Documentary Project.
- Witness and Response: September 11 Acquisitions at the Library of Congress is an online exhibition that exposes visitors to powerful eyewitness accounts and commentaries regarding events surrounding the attacks of September 11, 2001. It also demonstrates the commitment of the Library’s staff to documenting these events. The exhibit includes works by professional photographers, amateur photographers, children, art students, and architects, and also includes comic book art and political cartoons that tell a compelling story. Among the cartoonists with works in this presentation are Ann Telnaes, Kevin Kallaugher, Jeff Danziger, and Igor Kordey. Also search on the term Superman, September 11 to see some of the cartoons that use a super-hero theme to confront the events. (Check Rights and Restrictions Information for DC Comics, Jeff Danziger, and others.)
- The Sept. 11 Documentary Project cybercast is part of this online exhibition and addresses the American Folklife Center’s section of the exhibit and contains materials related to the first weeks after September 11, 2001.
- Experience the roles that maps play in managing a recovery effort by looking at cartographic materials collected by the Library’s Geography & Map Division. See, for example, the September 15, 2001, Ground Zero, Aerial Imagery acquired from the New York State Office for Technology.
- See the Potomac News & Manassas Journal Messenger, from Northern Virginia, which focuses its coverage on the Pentagon rather than the World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001. Family, friends, and colleagues of 9/11 victims helped members of the Library’s Serial and Government Publications Division and its Newspaper & Current Periodical Section collect materials that chronicled the world’s response, after airports were closed and mail delayed.
- Learn about acquisitions made by the Library’s overseas offices in light of the attacks. The Rio de Janeiro office, for example, acquired a Brazilian chapbook entitled A Guerra Contra O Terror Em Literatura de Cordel (The War Against Terror in the Chapbook Literature) by Pedro Costa.
- See The Message, a book by reporter-artist Kitty Caparella, which was acquired by the Library’s Rare Book & Special Collections Division.
- The Prints & Photographs Division built a visual archive for posterity. Search their collections on the term September 11 terrorist to view the nearly 400 images that have been cataloged as of September 2007.
- There are documentary photographs, many of which were first displayed at the Bolivar Arellano Gallery in New York, and material from the Exit Art Gallery including, for example, the graphite drawing WTC III by artist Meryl Blinder.
- A New World Trade Center: Design Proposals was exhibited at the Max Protech Gallery in New York and developed in collaboration with Architectural Record and 100 architects worldwide.
- The Library Services Directorate, in cooperation with the Internet Archive, WebArchivist.org, and the Pew Internet & American Life Project, captured Web sites developed by individuals, groups, the press, and institutions worldwide in the aftermath of the attacks. The September 11 Web Archive may be accessed through Library of Congress Web Archives, a virtual archive of electronic resources on the Internet.
- It had been well over 200 years since the U.S. Congress met at Federal Hall in New York City, but on September 6, 2002, 300 members of the U.S. Congress traveled there to mark the anniversary of September 11, 2001. The U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins External read for the event.
- Search Congress.gov on terms such as terrorism, homeland security, al Qaeda, Afghanistan, or National Day of Remembrance to learn more about U.S. congressional activities regarding these matters.