September 11 Digital Archive Marks Fifth Anniversary, Invites Reflections

Posted: September 11, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

On the fifth anniversary of the attacks on New York City, Washington, D.C., and western Pennsylvania, the September 11 Digital Archive invites retrospective reflections on the experience and meaning of those events.

Initially launched on Jan. 11, 2002, the September 11 Digital Archive has become the largest repository for digital objects related to the attacks of Sept. 11 and their aftermath.

Funded by a major grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and organized by the American Social History Project at the City University of New York Graduate Center and the Center for History and New Media (CHNM) at George Mason, the archive has contributed to the effort by historians and archivists to record and preserve the record of 9/11 by collecting firsthand accounts, including e-mails, voice recordings, text documents, images of flyers, photographs, video footage, animations, Flash files and many other digital objects.

“History is no longer told by just a select few,” says Tom Scheinfeldt, assistant director of CHNM. “In what has become a growing trend, actual eyewitnesses to earth-changing events are now able to add their reflections, through digital archiving, to the historical record. The September 11 Digital Archive is a big part of this effort.”

These materials, which will be permanently housed at the Library of Congress, offer a wide spectrum of opinions and perspectives, ranging from recordings of Manhattan residents’ voicemails on the morning of Sept. 11 to drawings by children from Los Angeles depicting the attacks.

The collection now stands at more than 150,000 digital objects, of which about one-third is publicly available. However, on Jan 11, 2007, the fifth anniversary of the creation of the web site, the entire archive will be accessible to researchers and the public. The fully redesigned web site will contain several new features, including improved search and browse functions and a digital notebook for researchers.

The archive will continue to accept contributions for the foreseeable future, allowing for further documentation and commemoration. The archive is particularly interested in receiving five-year retrospective stories of the attacks, which can be posted online or recorded by calling 347-284-6533.

Write to at