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Library Displays Online 9/11 Documentary Project

The day after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the Library of Congress’ American Folklife Center called upon folklorists and ethnographers from around the country to collect and record the reactions of Americans to the events of that day. Last week, this heartfelt collection of audio, video, graphic and written materials was made available through the Library’s American Memory Web site.

“The September 11, 2001 Documentary Project” brings to life the fear, despair, anger and hope experienced by eyewitnesses in New York and Washington, D.C., and other Americans across the nation following the attacks. The 170 audio and video interviews, 41 photographs and drawings and 21 written narratives are the voices of Americans from many cultural and ethnic backgrounds, all trying to understand a day that changed the world forever.

The September 11 project, which is available at https://www.memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/911_archive, is modeled on a similar initiative conducted by folklorist Alan Lomax more than 60 years ago. On Dec. 8, 1941, Lomax urged fellow folklorists to collect man-on-the-street reactions to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. That collection, titled “After the Day of Infamy,” is also featured within the American Memory collection, which can be found at https://www.memory.loc.gov/ammem/afcphhtml.

— John McArdle

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