We will look specifically at resources relative to 9/11 offered by the Library of Congress website. Digitized primary sources and collections are provided that will allow educators to select photographs, images, documents, maps and other formats that will address the needs of individual learners. We will first look at a general search and then at resources specifically designed for teachers.
Topic #1: Today in History from the Library of Congress homepage, I cheat a little and from the bottom of the page select Today in History and then click archives and enter September 11. An image of the Skyline of Manhattan with Smoke Billowing from the Twin Towers appears on my computer. Even though I was in rural, central Illinois when the 9/11 events occurred I feel my stomach tighten as I see the image like it was yesterday, a testament to the power of visual primary sources and the emotion they can evoke. The page tells me how the collection of original materials related to the attacks on the World Trade Center towers and Pentagon, the actions of United Airlines Flight 93 began within hours.
#2: Homepage Search I type September 11 in the homepage search box and am immediately met with 11777 matches. As I skim the thumbnails I see illustrations by children, documents and more, including photographs of first responders. I think about how my son, who was 10 at the time, is now a firefighter and those images have an entirely new significance to me. The materials include artifacts created as the events of 911 unfolded, either collected at that time or discovered later. Other items were created during the following days and weeks, as we tried to understand what happened, explain it to our children and reacted. Finally, artifacts were created in response to the attacks in an effort to heal
# 3: Witness & Response For those who are unable to browse the digitized primary sources, the Library of Congress has developed sites and collections to help. The first collection we will talk about is Witness and Response: September 11 Acquisitions at the Library of Congress which compiles materials from multiple areas of the Library.
American Folklife Center shares examples of drawings by children and “man on the street” audio interviews, similar to interviews collected following the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. The Geography and Map Division holds multiple aerial views and maps of the World Trade Center, as well as thermal imagery showing underground fires that burned for weeks. A link is provided to video of flythrough visualizations of lower Manhattan before and after 9/11. The images within Prints and Photographs include Documentary Photographs. You can view examples of submitted proposals for the redevelopment of the twin towers site. The division has a collection of political cartoons that can be used in a classroom as well as comic book art and posters. A collection titled Exit Art was created from an invitation to the public to submit 8.5 x 11 pieces that reflects the diversity and complexity of public reaction. Finally, the Serial and Government Publications Division collected newspapers that chronicled the events of 9/11, the stopping of air travel, the anthrax scare and far reaching impact.
#4: The September 11, 2001, Documentary Project offers digital versions of eyewitness accounts, reactions and perspectives through audio, video, written narratives, photographs and drawings. The day after the attacks, the American Folklife Center called upon the nation’s folklorists to collect, record, and document America’s reaction. A sampling of the material collected captures the voices of a diverse ethnic, socioeconomic, and political cross-section of America. The American Folklife Center mounted a similar effort in 1941 following the attack on Pearl Harbor. This effort is featured in the American Memory presentation: After the Day of Infamy: "Man-on-the-Street" Interviews Following the Attack on Pearl Harbor.
#5: Documentary Project Collection Connection To provide inspiration and guidance in incorporating the 9/11 primary sources into curriculum, the Library’s Education Outreach team created a Collection Connection for September 11, 2001, Documentary Project. Materials are presented in the areas of History, Critical Thinking and Arts and Humanities. These ideas are not presented as complete lesson plans, but jumping off points that can be adapted by a teacher to match the ability levels and needs of individual students. Activities such as “Eyewitness Accounts of the Attacks” and “The Attacks as Experienced via the Media” encourage understanding of diverse perspectives with the latter adding elements of geographical location and media influence. Analysis of the poetry and art created following 9/11 force students to look beyond the art and attempt to understand the motivation and goals of the artist.