After the people, the records lost on 9/11. The terrible human toll of the 9/11 terrorist attacks is well known. But what irreplaceable historical documents, archives, libraries, and art were also lost that day? The image above: Firefighters walk amid rubble near the base of the destroyed south tower of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Along with the tragic loss of almost 3,000 lives, thousands of documents, books, historical records, art works and other items were destroyed when two hijacked airplanes smashed into the Twin Towers. (Courtesy Peter Morgan/Reuters)
The Records Lost on 9/11
CBC-Radio Canada has a piece on the loss of these records, including family records and heirlooms in safe deposit boxes in various banks located in the WTC.
The known list from the CBC:
- 21 libraries inside the World Trade Center, including that of the Journal of Commerce.
- Twenty-four works in the art collections of the army, navy, air force and marine corps at the Pentagon.
- The archives and library of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the region’s airports, bridges and the World Trade Center. A spokesman for the organization said it only had a “general idea” of what documents were destroyed but one document that is known to have been lost is the 1921 agreement that created the Port Authority.
- Artifacts from the 19th-century Lower Manhattan neighbourhood of Five Points. About 900,000 objects excavated from an archeological site uncovered in 1991 a few blocks east of the WTC were stored in a room at the 6 World Trade Center building that was destroyed by the collapse of the north tower. Artifacts from an 18th-century burial ground for free and enslaved Africans that were stored in an adjacent room were saved from among the debris.
- U.S. trade documents dating back to the 1840s that were housed in the library of the U.S. Customs Service in 6 World Trade Center.
- Numerous art works in the private collections of businesses and agencies that had offices in the WTC as well as several pieces of public art commissioned by the Port Authority over the years and displayed throughout the complex. The value of art lost was estimated at $100 million from private collections and $10 million in public art.
After the People, the Records Lost on 9/11
- Art works at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council in 5 World Trade Center.
- The offices and archives of Helen Keller International, the agency founded by deaf and blind activist Helen Keller. Among the documents lost were letters written by Keller. Only a bust of Keller and one book were recovered.
- Thousands of negatives of photos taken by John F. Kennedy’s personal photographer, Jacques Lowe, which had been stored in a safe deposit vault at 5 World Trade Center.
- Photographs from the Broadway Theatre Archives.
- Family records and heirlooms stored in safety deposit boxes and vaults of World Trade Center banks, including a collection of 25 antique hand-woven rugs valued at more than $500,000 US
- Materials in the Pentagon library, which housed 500,000 books, documents and historical materials and was hit by the nose of the plane that crashed into the building, were damaged but the bulk of them was restored.