September 11 Digital Archive

Hi Everyone!

This week I get to introduce you to the September 11 Digital Archive. The archive was created in 2002 to “collect, preserve, and present the history of September 11, 2001 and its aftermath. ” According to the websites about page the Archive was originally created by the American Social History Project at the City University of New York and the Roy Rosensweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. It’s not clear from the website who’s running it now but it’s hosted through Omeka and it’s collections include visual, audio, and written media.

The homepage has seven different tabs you can use to navigate throughout the website. These include an Items tab, and a Collections Tab which you can use to explore the contents of the archive.

The archive itself is made up of several collections. These include collections from well known institutions such as the Smithsonian, and the Library of Congress, in addition to submissions from individual users.

Within each of these sub collections there is a “collection tree” which offers a list of sub collections users can browse through. Each collection has it’s own page which contains a list of all the items the comprise that section of the archive.

The items themselves each have their own page. The page contains the item itself, a title, description, and various reference material such as ID numbers, collection names, what type of media it is.

If you are looking for a specific item you can use the Items tab. Within this tab you can browse through all the items in the entire archive or search for a specific items using keywords, ID numbers, or search through specific collections.

You can sort your results by title, date added, or creator. I found the search feature to be pretty user friendly if you already know the item your looking for. However, if have a broad idea of your subject matter but don’t know the exact item name or reference number searching through the archive can be tricky. Especially because a lot of the items are still untitled or have only an ID number has their title.

All in all, the archive is a very useful tool for anyone researching September 11. It has a wide variety of items and is a great tool for both historians and the general public.

-Leah Marks

2 Replies to “September 11 Digital Archive”

  1. Coming back to this after our discussion in class, what do you think are some of the drawbacks of having a user generated archive? Honestly, I hope the submissions are of quality and not internet bots or trolls spamming the system. I also remember Dr. Owens saying that people have to manually approve the submissions. While I think this is a good idea to have a human do this, it can really slow down the process of the archive if there are not enough people or enough money to fund them. Do you think this process will slow down someone’s research process as well, since they do not have access to as much information as possible?

  2. Leah – Coming back to this. I think it’s fascinating that there is an entire online archive that pulls from different archives concerning a singular event. Who funds this today? Who maintains it? Do the creators maintain it?

    It’s interesting to think how different moments in our lifetime could become archives like this one. I think of how COVID will probably have an online archive of this. Your post gave me lots to think about. Thanks for sharing!

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