Press contact: Craig D'Ooge (202) 707-9189
Public contact: (202) 707-5510

September 26, 2001

Library of Congress Documents Reactions to September 11, 2001, Tragedy for Posterity

The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress has called upon folklorists across the nation to document on audio tape the thoughts and feelings expressed by citizens following the tragic events of September 11, 200l. These recordings and supporting documentary materials will become part of the Center's Archive of Folk Culture, the largest and most significant archives devoted to the folklore and traditional culture of Americans and of the many cultural groups from around the world that have enriched American life. Founded in 1928, the Archive is now repository to over 2 million items.

With the "September 11, 2001, Documentary Project," the American Folklife Center is building upon a unique precedent. On December 9, 1941, renown folklorist Alan Lomax, who was serving as the head of the Folk Archive, sent an urgent message to folklorists around the United States to collect "person on the street" reactions to the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the declaration of war by the United States. Recordings were made in all parts of the country in which people expressed their immediate reactions to this cataclysmic event. Interviews were conducted with shoemakers, electricians, janitors, oilmen, cab drivers, housewives, students, soldiers, and physicians. People of many ethnic groups and ages are represented in these interviews expressing their opinions on the political, social, financial, and miliary aspects of the Pearl Harbor attack.

These field recordings were sent to the Library of Congress where they were used to create a series of radio programs and distributed to schools and radio stations. This unique documentary collection is still housed at the American Folklife Center and continues to be an invaluable aural resource.

Sixty years later, in this time of national crisis and mourning, the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress has issued a call to the folklore community to provide such a service to the nation today through the "September 11, 2001, Documentary Project ." The Center will collect and preserve the audio-taped interviews and supporting materials that present the personal experience stories of average Americans in the wake of the terrorist attack and to what many have called "an act of war." What were they doing when they heard? How have their lives been changed? These materials will be deposited in the Center's Archive of Folk Culture, where they will be preserved for and made available to future generations. To receive copies of interview release forms or for further information on the September 11, 2001, Documentary Project, please contact the American Folklife Center: (202) 707-5510; folklife@loc.gov .

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.

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PR 01-139
09/26/01
ISSN 0731-3527

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