Press Release: Library Of Congress Acquires September 11 Digital Archive Event Marked With Day-Long Symposium in D.C.

he Library of Congress will mark its first major digital acquisition of September 11, 2001, materials with the addition to its collections of the September 11 Digital Archive ( The September 11 Digital Archive is a joint project of the City University of New York Graduate Center’s American Social History Project and George Mason University’s Center for History and New Media – two institutions that have explored digital history for more than a decade.

On Sept. 10 the Library of Congress will formally accept the material, which contains more than 130,000 written accounts, e-mails, audio recordings, video clips, photographs, Web sites and other materials that document the attacks on New York City, Washington, D.C., and western Pennsylvania and their aftermath. These items will provide researchers with a major source of information about the attacks.

To mark the acquisition of the Digital Archive, the Library of Congress will host a daylong symposium, “September 11 as History: Collecting Today for Tomorrow.” The event, which will take place in the Library’s Coolidge Auditorium on Sept. 10, will feature commentary by leading U.S. historians, librarians and archivists, including Ronald Walters, University of Maryland, and Michael Kazin, Georgetown University. His keynote address is "12/12 and 9/11: Tales of Power and Tales of Experience in Contemporary History.” The symposium is free and open to the public. The Coolidge Auditorium is on the ground floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E. The event will culminate in an evening reception during which the Library of Congress will formally accept the September 11 Digital Archive as part of its holdings.

“Even in the midst of the initial chaos of the horrific events of September 11, 2001, the Library of Congress began collecting materials documenting the attacks,” said Diane Kresh, director of the Library's Public Service Collections. “Since that time, the Library has been amassing material through its public service divisions and overseas offices. This September 11 Digital Archive, with its vast content of firsthand accounts, will add to the broad range and diversity of materials already acquired by the Library of Congress that relate to the September 11 tragedy.”

These digital materials offer a wide spectrum of opinions and perspectives, ranging from recordings of Manhattan residents’ voicemails on the morning of September 11 to drawings by children from Los Angeles depicting the attacks. “As with other collective historical events,” said Eric Foner, Columbia University DeWitt Clinton Professor of History, “the memory of September 11 will be an essential part of historical understanding in the future. By preserving the raw material of history -- which now includes evidence recorded in digital form -- the September 11 Digital Archive will help contribute to subsequent generations’ understanding of the past and, therefore, of themselves.”

The Archive is the largest digital collection of September 11-related materials, serving as the Smithsonian Institution’s designated repository for digital objects related to the attacks. The availability of these materials in the Library of Congress will prove invaluable to future historians and researchers.

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, which has had a longstanding interest in fostering the use of the Internet to collect and preserve the past, provided the funding that launched the September 11 Digital Archive.

About the September 11 Digital Archive

The September 11 Digital Archive is a continuing joint project of the City University of New York Graduate Center’s American Social History Project and George Mason University’s Center for History and New Media. Operating since January 2002 with support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Archive is the world’s foremost digital archive dedicated to collecting and preserving the history of the September 11 terrorist attacks. The Archive still actively seeks submissions – particularly first-hand accounts, emails relating to the attacks, and digital images.

About the American Social History Project/Center for Media and Learning (

The American Social History Project/Center for Media and Learning aim to revitalize interest in history by challenging the traditional ways people learn about the past. Founded in 1981 by the late Herbert Gutman and Stephen Brier and part of The Graduate Center of the City University of New York, ASHP produces award-winning print, visual, and multimedia materials about the working men and women whose actions and beliefs shaped American history.

About the City University of New York Graduate Center

The Graduate Center is the doctorate-granting institution for The City University of New York (CUNY), where about 3,700 students and 1,600 faculty join in the shared enterprise of exploring and expanding the boundaries of knowledge within 30 doctoral programs in the humanities, social sciences and sciences. More than a third of the rated Ph.D. programs rank among the country's top 20. This remarkable environment of intellectual discovery and exchange is further augmented by 28 research centers and institutes focused on areas of compelling social, civic, cultural, and scientific concerns.

About the Center for History and New Media

Since 1994, the Center for History and New Media (CHNM) has used digital media and computer technology to change the ways that people--scholars, students, and the general public--learn about and use the past. CHNM's work has been recognized with major awards from the American Historical Association and other national organizations, as well as with grants from the Sloan, Rockefeller, Gould, Delmas, and Kellogg foundations and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

About George Mason University

George Mason has emerged in the last decade as a major university in the state and in the nation. By emphasizing high technology, public policy, and the fine and performing arts, the university has formed many links within the community and state. George Mason’s innovative programs and visionary outlook have attracted a faculty of renowned scholars and teachers. Enrollment is now more than 26,000 students studying in more than 130 degree programs at the undergraduate, master's, doctoral, and professional levels.

About the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

The Alfred P. Sloan foundation is a philanthropic nonprofit institution established in 1934 by Alfred Pritchard Sloan Jr., a former president and chief executive officer of General Motors Corporation. Foundation grants during past years have supported the use of the World Wide Web as a new way of creating an historical record of recent major science and technology events.

Submitted on: AUG 1, 2003

Category: Press Room | Public Events