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September 11, 2001: 20 Years Later: A Remembrance in Newspapers

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On the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people, we revisit the Library of Congress historic newspaper collection. The September 11 newspaper collection contains thousands of printed newspapers from around the country and around the world. Newspapers published in the immediate aftermath dominate the collection, supplemented by special anniversary issues. We plan to add the current 20th anniversary coverage. We invite you to help us build the nation’s collection of 9/11 newspapers at the Library. Please contact us through the Serial & Government Publications Division’s Ask a Librarian, if you have newspapers that you wish to donate, from 20 years ago to current anniversary coverage. Our division’s 9/11 collection is not limited to newspapers, so also contact us about donating 9/11-related magazine issues and comic books.

Here is additional information about our 9/11 newspaper collection from a 2018 blog written by Arlene Balkansky. Arlene recently retired from her work as a reference librarian in the Newspaper and Current Periodical Reading Room.

Frontpage of a newspaper with the headline “EXTRA EXTRA EXTRA” (in red lettering), and “US ATTACKED.” Two color photographs are included on the page: 1) smoke rising from a burning building; 2) smoke rising from a city skyscraper. The text of the article reads, “PENTAGON BURNS; DC EVACUATED.
“U.S. Attacked,” Potomac News & Manassas Journal Messenger (Manassas, Virginia), September 11, 2001, Extra Edition. Courtesy of Potomac News & Manassas Journal Messenger. Historic Events Newspaper Collection. 

Many of us remember exactly where we were when the 9/11 terrorist attacks occurred. We remember the subsequent media coverage, whether on TV, radio, or in newspapers, and many of us saved those newspapers.

Library of Congress employees, though evacuated from their Capitol Hill buildings, began collecting newspapers for the Library that afternoon. This became a necessary approach because the Library’s overall operations, including newspaper deliveries, were not only affected in the immediate aftermath of September 11, but for months following due to the deadly anthrax attacks that began on September 18th.

One year later, the Library opened a two-month long exhibit, Witness and Response: September 11 Acquisitions at the Library of Congress, displaying a wide range of relevant materials collected during that first year, including drawings, photos, eye-witness accounts and personal reactions, books, magazines, poems, songs, audio and video recordings, films, maps, and newspapers. A special issue of the Library of Congress Information Bulletin focused on the exhibit and the 9/11 collections, and included this article by Gene Berry on our 9/11 Historic Events Newspaper Collection.

Frontpage of a newspaper with the headline “America’s bloodiest day” with the subtitle “‘This is the second Pearl Harbor’” with an accompanying photo of two skyscrapers--the skyscraper in the background is shown with billowing smoke and the skyscraper in the forefront is shown with a burst of fire. The title of the article on the right side of the page : Terrorists in jets kill thousands. Visible text on the left side of the page reads: Hawai’i victims, Rescuer deaths, Prime suspect, Pentagon ruins, How and why. The article on the bottom of the page has visible text that reads: "What you need to know today in Hawai’i."
“America’s Bloodiest Day,” The Honolulu Advertiser (Honolulu, Hawaii), September 12, 2001. Courtesy of The Honolulu Advertiser. Historic Events Newspaper Collection.

 

The Library continues to collect and preserve materials related to 9/11. This includes newspapers with immediate coverage, subsequent related coverage, and anniversary editions. The 9/11 newspaper collection now contains thousands of issues so, unsurprisingly, they are not yet completely processed and fully accessible. The newspapers are broadly organized and stored in archival boxes with more processing work forthcoming.

 Frontpage of a newspaper with the headline, “Terror Hits Pentagon, World Trade Center” with an accompanying photo of a skyscraper with billowing smoke and an airplane in mid-flight. Directly below the image is an article with visible text that reads: “N.Y. Skyscrapers Collapse After Hijacked Planes Hit.” Another article at the bottom of the page has visible text that reads: “This Is on the Scale of Pearl Harbor,” with an accompanying photo of a marina with boats floating in the water and a billowing cloud of smoke hangs overhead. Visible text at the bottom right hand side of the page reads: “Nightmare Shatters Manhattan Morning.”
Aluminum Printing Press Plate “Terror Hits Pentagon, World Trade Center,” The Washington Post, September 11, 2001, Special Late Edition. Courtesy of The Washington Post. Washington Post Historical Collection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 2015, The Washington Post donated a large collection of original newspapers and other materials, mainly dating from the 1960s to the 21st century. A selection of aluminum press plates for use on printing press rollers is a fascinating part of the donation. These historic printing press plates include the front page of the Post’s September 11 Special Late Edition.

Even with thousands of U.S. and foreign newspapers in our 9/11 collection, we still have a list of newspapers we want to add: September 11, 2001: Tuesday Extra/Special and P.M. Editions Wanted by the Library of Congress. We realize that you, like us, may have collected one of these newspapers so please contact us via the Serial and Government Publications Division Ask a Librarian, if you would like to donate any of these historic newspapers to the Library of Congress.

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Comments (2)

  1. I would like to donate 9/11 newspapers to a place that could use them.

    • Thank you, Barbara! If you are interested in possibly donating them to the Library of Congress, please send us a question via our Ask-A-Librarian service: https://ask.loc.gov/newspapers-periodicals.

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