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Meeting of the Board of Regents | September 2009

Tuesday, September 1, 2009 - 8:30am

sed seal                                                                                                 




signature of Jeff Cannell



Jeffrey Cannell


Archives: Report on New Website, 9/11 Memory & History


September 1, 2009








Issue for Discussion


9/11 Memory & History:  What to Save and How—a new website for 9/11 families on caring for family documents and mementos


Proposed Handling


The Regents will review the Archives’ progress in building a new website on preservation of archival materials.


Background Information


In the weeks following the World Trade Center attacks, staff of the New York State Archives, working with the New York State Museum, National Archives and Records Administration, the Metropolitan NY Archivists Roundtable, and repositories from around New York City and Long Island led efforts to ensure that the documentary record of the World Trade Center disaster and its aftermath would not be lost.  From the very outset, this work was perceived to be vitally important to our understanding of the impact that the crisis had on those both directly and indirectly affected. 


One important outgrowth of this effort was a series of workshops designed to teach affected families how to preserve the important and often ephemeral records of loved ones and encouraged them to at the appropriate time turn them over to an historical records repository.  A powerful example of the type of vulnerable records is the voicemail from the son of Mary Fetchet, founder of the family group Voices of September 11th, which contained the last words of her son from the moments before the tower’s collapse.


The training has proved to be helpful for the many family members who have traveled to the New York City area to participate in person.  However, access to the training for the many survivors from across the United States and overseas is limited.  To broaden the reach of the training, the New York State Archives, with funds raised by its support organization the Archives Partnership Trust, developed a web-based resource that delivers the same high quality, thoughtful instruction but in a way that is accessible to individuals no matter where they are located.  Colleagues at the State Museum contributed greatly to the development of the website through their experience with 9/11 families and collections and their rich image resources.



Components of the website include:


  • Safe places to store collections in the home
  • Protective enclosures for your collection items—dos and don’ts and where to get them
  • How to safely handle and display fragile belongings
  • Preserving electronic files like images, email, and web sites
  • Where to go for help – up-to-date print and web resources for families to rely upon
  • Finding a permanent home for your collections


The site delivers these topics in easy-to-follow formats such as video demonstrations and step-by-step guidelines with links to the best resources on the preserving family items developed by the State Archives and other organizations.  All guidance products are designed for the layperson and sensitive to the audience; our staff are keenly aware that most of our visitors will have little or no knowledge about family collections and may find the process of dealing with their collections difficult.


It is our hope that the website will both serve the needs of 9/11 families and help ensure that the historical record of this tragedy in our lives will be full, preserved, and accessible to future generations.


Timetable for Implementation


9/11 Memory & History:  What to Save and How will be launched in September 2009, in conjunction with the 8th anniversary of the attacks of September 11th.