September 11, 2001, Documentary Project

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:

Laura Gottesman
Reference Specialist
Digital Reference Team
The Library of Congress
via Web4Lib

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