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Recording Our Reactions to
September 11

Peggy Bulger and Ann Hoog
American Folklife Center

We will remember the date of September 11, 2001, forever. At a time of national crisis, one wonders what positive action should or could be taken? As anthropologists, what might we contribute to the future?

On December 9, 1941, Alan Lomax (then in charge of the Library of Congress Archive of Folk Song) sent an urgent message to fieldworkers all around the US to collect "person on the street" reactions to the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the declaration of war by the US. Among those fieldworkers who responded were Bob Allen, Fletcher Collins, John Henry Faulk, Lewis Jones, Vance Randolph and Robert Sonkin. Recordings were made in all parts of the US in which people expressed their immediate reactions to the attack on Pearl Harbor and the US declaration of war. Interviews were conducted with shoemakers, electricians, janitors, oilmen, cab drivers, housewives, students, soldiers and physicians. People of many ethnic groups and ages were represented in these interviews. Those interviewed expressed their opinions on the political, social, financial and miliary aspects of the US involvement in the war.

These field recordings were sent to the Library of Congress where they were made into a series of radio programs and distributed to schools and radio stations. The radio programs and field interviews are still housed in the Archive of Folk Culture at the American Folklife Center where they comprise an invaluable aural resource and are part of our American legacy. The AFC has continued to make these unique recordings available to researchers and media producers.

The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress is interested in partnering with the anthropological and oral history community to provide such a service to the nation today. We call for all of those who are interested in participating to use your anthropological and folkloristic training in a positive way during a time of national crisis and mourning. We ask you to document the immediate reactions of average Americans in your own communities to yesterday's 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? We are asking those who are interested, to document these reactions on audio cassettes.

The AFC can promise that these interviews will be deposited in the Center's Archive of Folk Culture where they will be preserved for and made available to future generations. Since we wish to capture immediate reactions the deadline to send your interviews is December 1, 2001. If you need release forms, required for the project, or have any questions please contact the American Folklife Center at 202/707-5510; folklife@loc.gov.

Release forms are required.

Mail completed forms and interviews to:
Library of Congress
American Folklife Center
101 Independence Ave, SE
Washington, DC 20540-4610

Form 1.pdf - To be completed by interviewer.

Form 2.pdf - To be complete by person being interviewed.

 

 

 

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