Today marks the fourteenth anniversary of Sept. 11. Since the years following the terrorist attack that devastated Americans and questioned national security and identity, media memoriams have become only annual. However, a group of committed individuals have come together to preserve the memory of Sept. 11 indefinitely.
The September 11 Digital Archive is a digital platform that uses electronic media to preserve and present the history of the Sept. 11 attacks in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania and the public responses to them.
Rapid advancements in technology since the attacks has made preserving the day’s history through an electronic archive possible. The Digital Archive is comprised of a variety of “collections” put together from the generous contributions of victims’ families, officials, first responders, news organizations etc. The Archive also partnered with the Library of Congress to accept a copy of the archive into the library’s permanent collection. The Archive is overarchingly organized by the American Social History Project of the NYU Graduate Center and the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media of George Mason University.
Along with these institutional backings, The Digital Archive was funded by a major grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The Foundation is a not for profit, grant making institution. Grants are given annually and must fall under one of the following categories: STEM research, STEM higher education, Public Understanding of Science, Technology, & Economics, Digital Information Technology, Economics, Energy and Environment, Select Issues, and Civic Initiatives.
The Digital Archive falls under the “Digital Information Technology” category. And what is particularly resounding about the archive is that it is an experiment in assessing how successfully history is being recorded in the modern age. In contrast to how history was previously maintained in print and by word of mouth, technology and advanced software tools have allowed historians to collect and preserve history in a way they were never able to before. History has now become an accessible and permanent entity available to anyone with an Internet connection.
The Digital Archive is a testament to the current, technological era where history can be reaffirmed regardless of how much time has passed. The Archive will endure as the foundation of memoriam for Sept. 11, whether the nation is remembering the event’s twenty fifth or fiftieth anniversary.