The Library of Congress's American Folklife Center announces a new presentation: The September 11, 2001, Documentary Project, available on the Library's American Memory Web site:
This presentation captures 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, the Pentagon, and United Airlines Flight 93. Patriotism and unity mixed with sadness, anger and insecurity are common themes expressed in the sound and video recordings, written narratives, poetry, photographs and drawings that comprise this online presentation.
The day after the attacks, the American Folklife Center called upon the nation's folklorists and ethnographers to collect, record and document America's reaction. This project is modeled on a similar initiative, conducted sixty years earlier, when folklorist Alan Lomax was serving as "assistant in charge" of the Archive of American Folk Song. On December 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
The online presentation includes almost 170 audio and video interviews, 41 graphic materials (photographs and drawings), and 21 written narratives and poems. The complete collection, available at the American Folklife Center Reading Room, comprises about 800 audio and video interviews, 421 graphic materials, as well as news clippings, written narratives, and artifacts. 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.
Please direct any questions you may have using the American Folklife Center Web form available at:
Digital Reference Team
The Library of Congress