Today in History: September 11
Today in History ordinarily presents events that happened at least twenty-five years in the past, but this day is an exception.
Within hours of the tragic events of September 11, 2001, Library of Congress staff began to call for and collect a vast array of original materials concerning the attacks on the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon, and the fate of United Airlines Flight 93 which crashed into the earth at Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Library staff worked in concert with many others to chronicle the events and to collect related material in a wide variety of formats related to 9/11—for example, photographs, comic book illustrations, magazines, posters, and fine art.
This array of materials forms a part of the permanent record of the reactions and responses of everyday people, the heroic resolve of firefighters and rescue workers, and the diverse views of the international community regarding the terrorist attacks. The Library's permanent collections grew to include information on surrounding events such as the ongoing recovery efforts, the need for blood donors, television coverage, the anthrax scare, calls for peace, the bombing of Afghanistan and the relief effort, issues of security, and memorials to the victims.
On September 12, 2001, the American Folklife Center called upon folklorists and ethnographers across the nation "to document the immediate reactions of average Americans." Read the letter (PDF, 35 Kb) sent out to ask folklorists to contribute audiotapes to the Archive of Folk Culture. Listen to an October 22 interview with Heather Coffman of Norman, Oklahoma. More interviews are available in the September 11, 2001, Documentary Project in American Memory.
- Witness and Response: September 11 Acquisitions at the Library of Congress is an online exhibition that exposes visitors to powerful eyewitness accounts and commentaries regarding events surrounding the attacks of September 11, 2001. It also demonstrates the commitment of the Library's staff to documenting these events. The exhibit includes works by professional photographers, amateur photographers, children, art students, and architects, and also includes comic book art and political cartoons that tell a compelling story. Among the cartoonists with works in this presentation are Ann Telnaes, Kevin Kallaugher, Jeff Danziger, and Igor Kordey. Also search on the term Superman, September 11 to see some of the cartoons that use a super-hero theme to confront the events. (Check Rights and Restrictions Information for DC Comics, Jeff Danziger, and others.)
- The Sept. 11 Documentary Project cybercast is part of this online exhibition and addresses the American Folklife Center’s section of the exhibit and contains materials related to the first weeks after September 11, 2001.
- Experience the roles that maps play in managing a recovery effort by looking at cartographic materials collected by the Library's Geography and Map Division. See, for example, the September 15, 2001, Ground Zero, Aerial Imagery acquired from the New York State Office for Technology.
- See the Potomac News and Manassas Journal Messenger, from Northern Virginia, which focuses its coverage on the Pentagon rather than the World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001. Family, friends, and colleagues of 9/11 victims helped members of the Library's Serial and Government Publication Division and its Newspaper & Current Periodical Section collect materials that chronicled the world's response, after airports were closed and mail delayed.
- Read "The Sociology and Psychology of Terrorism: Who Becomes A Terrorist and Why?" (PDF, 1.4 MB) a 1999 report issued by the Library's Federal Research Division.
- Learn about acquisitions made by the Library's overseas offices in light of the attacks. The Rio de Janeiro office, for example, acquired a Brazilian chapbook entitled A Guerra Contra O Terror Em Literatura de Cordel (The War Against Terror in the Chapbook Literature) by Pedro Costa.
- See The Message, a book by reporter-artist Kitty Caparella, which was acquired by the Library's Rare Book and Special Collections Division.
- The Prints and Photographs Division built a visual archive for posterity. Search their catalog on the term September 11 terrorist to view the nearly 400 images that have been cataloged as of September 2007.
- There are documentary photographs, many of which were first displayed at the Bolivar Arellano Gallery in New York, and material from the Exit Art Gallery including, for example, the graphite drawing WTC III by artist Meryl Blinder.
- A New World Trade Center: Design Proposals was exhibited at the Max Protech Gallery in New York and developed in collaboration with Architectural Record and 100 architects worldwide.
- The Library Services Directorate, in cooperation with the Internet Archive, WebArchivist.org, and the Pew Internet & American Life Project, captured Web sites developed by individuals, groups, the press, and institutions worldwide in the aftermath of the attacks. The September 11 Web Archive may be accessed through Library of Congress Web Archives, a virtual archive of electronic resources on the Internet.
- It had been well over 200 years since the U.S. Congress met at Federal Hall in New York City, but on September 6, 2002, 300 members of the U.S. Congress traveled there to mark the anniversary of September 11, 2001. The U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins (external link) read for the event.
The great event of the evening…was Jenny Lind's appearance and her complete triumph. She has a most exquisite, powerful and really quite peculiar voice, so round, soft and flexible.
Diary of Queen Victoria, April 22, 1846
Swedish soprano Jenny Lind, whose purity of voice and natural singing style earned her the nickname "the Swedish nightingale," made her American debut at the Castle Garden Theatre in New York City on September 11, 1850. The appearance inaugurated a ninety-three-stop American tour which was arranged by showman and entertainment entrepreneur Phineas T. Barnum. The tour came on the heels of a fantastically successful string of appearances in England that gave rise to the term, "Jenny Lind fever."
Jenny Lind was born Johanna Maria Lind on October 6, 1820 in Stockholm, Sweden. She made her debut in the opera Der Freischütz in Stockholm in 1838. Her fame grew in the mid-1840s as she made a series of successful appearances in Germany and Austria. In 1847, she made her first appearance on a London stage when she sang the part of Amalia which was written for her by Guiseppe Verdi, in I Masnadieri. In 1849, Lind determined to stop performing opera on account of her religious convictions. Thenceforth, she made her career as a recitalist and an oratorio singer.
Nearly ninety years after Jenny Lind's tour of the United States, Mrs. Isabell Barnwell still remembered the sensation created by the singer's 1850-51 tour. Of growing up in Hamilton County, Florida during the Civil War period, she recalled:
Music was a delight to all of us…We four sisters used to sing a great deal…We kept up with the music of the times, having quite a stock of sheet music on hand…I have several of those old volumes now, one composed entirely of Jenny Lind's repertoire when she made her long-remembered American appearance.
Lind's renditions of popular songs met with great acclaim and helped make her one of the few opera singers to earn a large popular following. Fashionable new polkas and waltzes were choreographed and given her name. The "Jenny Lind Polka," performed by fiddler John Selleck and recorded in 1939 in Camino, California, is a testament to Lind's enduring influence on the popular imagination.
- The "Jenny Lind Polka" and "Jenny Lind's Set of Waltz Quadrilles" are described in a popular dance manual published in 1858, Complete Ball-room Hand Book, reputedly the work of the famous inventor, Elias Howe, "Assisted by Several Eminent Professors of Dancing." This is just one of the many nineteenth-century dance and ballroom etiquette manuals included in the American Memory collection, An American Ballroom Companion, ca. 1490-1920. Browse the Complete Author/Title list for author, title, and publication information for the 210 books included in the collection.
American Memory is a rich resource for the study of popular entertainment from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
- Search the collection on nineteenth century, or on dance terms, such as, polka, waltz, quadrille, or cotillion to find a treasure trove of information on dancing, manners, forms of courtship, and social life of the 1830s to 1880s.
- Search on Jenny Lind or on a year such as 1850 in Historic American Sheet Music, 1850-1920 to find popular songs from the time of Jenny Lind's American debut.
- California Gold: Folk Music from the Thirties, 1938-1940 is a collection of folk songs recorded in the 1930s. Many of these songs date back to earlier periods. To find a sampling of popular songs of Jenny Lind's era, search this collection of recordings on terms such as Anglo-American dance, polka, waltz, or the more general term dance.
- Sample a collection of motion pictures, playscripts, theater playbills and programs dating from the turn of the century. Browse the subject index of the American Variety Stage, 1870-1920 collection which also includes material on the popular illusionist Harry Houdini.