Remembering 9/11 Project
The Remembering 9/11 Oral History Project is an endeavor with deep roots. In the years after September 11th, medical director Dr. Benjamin Luft and his colleagues began to feel it was their responsibility not only to offer medical care, but to act as stewards for their patients’ unique memories of that day and the impact of their disaster work on their lives.
In 2009, the project was founded. A volunteer effort, it began with five willing responders; a handful of faculty and staff from Stony Brook Medicine and student volunteers from Hofstra University; a video camera; and scant other resources. Since then, the project has become the foundation for our outreach and educational programs. A rich public resource, our archive contains over three hundred in-depth narratives with responders, their family members, and others who were connected to the World Trade Center disaster response.
We are indebted to the dedication of the program staff that work on the project, the support of those who believe in the importance of this endeavor, and the generosity of those who share these deeply personal stories.
This project is a natural outgrowth of years of clinically treating WTC responders. While Dr. Luft and his colleagues meticulously recorded health statistics, research results, and notes in medical records, these functional documents left no room for an equally important part of the responder’s story—their recollections of the 9/11 disaster and their involvement with the rescue and recovery efforts. Rather than risk losing these personal histories to time, Remembering 9/11 was started. Not only does it give our members a much-needed voice, but it has created the opportunity for our local and national communities to better understand the continuing impact of this disaster and its unprecedented effects on the involved responders and their families. By preserving these accounts and making them publically accessible, we are giving future generations the chance to understand not only the larger historical impact of 9/11, but the many ways in which it has irreparably affected the lives, health, and legacies of thousands of people.
Each oral history is recorded on digital video and audio and professionally transcribed. The transcriptions are then edited, with the work focusing all the while on preserving the power of the responder’s voice and storytelling style. These various media formats have allowed the Project to pursue related efforts, utilizing the collection to the fullest extent.
Accompanying the oral histories is a veritable treasure trove of photographs and other materials donated by participants. The Project will donate the collection in its entirety to the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, where it will remain available to the public and be housed into perpetuity. The public will be able to search the archive by information provided by the responders (e.g. name, hometown), occupations, and meta data collected by the project staff.