NYC Latino 9-11 Collecting Initiative

[español]

Soon after the attacks of September 11, the National Museum of American History began collecting objects to document and preserve the material record of this important event in American history. The collecting priorities focused on the attacks, the response and rescue efforts, and the commemoration that followed. Congress designated the museum as the official repository for September 11 collections, so artifacts could be preserved permanently to help future generations of historians and visitors comprehend the horrific events of September 11, their roots, and their long-term consequences.

In 2018, with funding from the Smithsonian Latino Center, the National Museum of American History launched the New York City Latino 9-11 Collecting Initiative to expand the narratives of the National September 11 Collection, identifying Latina/o/x stories, objects, and archival materials to create content and visibility for the community.

The city’s 27% Latinx population in 2001 tells a broader story of belonging and hurt, showing both the everyday heroes who worked 12-hour shifts during the rescue efforts, and the emotional and physical labor of educators and social workers who volunteered time and resources amid the devastation, reminding us of the chaos, the bravery, the loss, and the unity felt that horrifying day.

The NYC Latino 9-11 Collecting Initiative aims to collect and preserve artifacts that speak to the displaced employees. At least 3,000 related jobs were lost and dozens of Latinx small businesses were forced to close. Among the recovery workers, a large percentage of the cleanup crew was Latinx. Close to 10% of the missing or dead victims from the attacks were Latinx—undocumented or not, U.S. citizens and foreign nationals alike. The stories of first responders, the ill and the dying, community-based nonprofits and volunteers who sought to bring them aid, are all crucial to achieving our goals.

The initiative worked with a wide variety of people and organizations including the Mexican Consulate in New York City, the Mexican Cultural Institute, the New York City Committee for Occupational Health and Safety, social workers from Alianza Dominicana, and volunteers like lawyer Debra Steinberg, who provided free legal aid to undocumented September 11 victims and their families. Examples of sought-after collections include commemorative artwork, clothing, and accessories worn during the attacks and aftermath, archival material documenting ongoing legal and medical battles, uniforms and gear from first responders, and oral histories with the people affected and those who aided them.

We recognize the difficult conversations that arise from our work, especially when considering immigration status and post-traumatic stress. This project is part of a global discussion of ethical challenges around community-based collecting. We are investigating alongside our collaborators and donors how to better serve our communities, to listen to their stories, to discover new potential collections, and to find appropriate and respectful ways to present a more complete interpretation of their contributions to the national September 11 narrative.

Recent acquisitions

Univision journalist Blanca Rosa Vilchez’s blouse and jacket
Univision journalist Blanca Rosa Vilchez’s blouse and jacket
Peruvian-American Univision journalist Blanca Rosa Vilchez was near the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, to cover the city’s primary elections. After witnessing the collapse of the Twin Towers, she ran for her life but stayed on the scene, reporting the news about the attacks for Univision. She continued to report on the events for three days straight. She had selected this blue jewel toned blouse and black jacket specifically for that day because the weather forecast predicted a blue-sky day. She never wore these clothes again.
First responder Ivonne Coppola Sanchez’s subway advertisement
First responder Ivonne Coppola Sanchez’s subway advertisement
Puerto Rican Ivonne Coppola Sanchez donated a sweatshirt she wore as a New York Fire Department Emergency Medical Services first responder at Ground Zero, searching for survivors. She worked to set up a makeshift morgue, during which New York-based photographer Joel Meyerowitz captured a portrait in which she wore the sweatshirt. Non-profit organization New York Committee for Occupational Safety & Health used her portrait in their city-wide Spanish outreach campaign to support Latino workers at risk due to the debris from the events of September 11.
Community organizer Milagros Batista’s blouse and jewelry
Community organizer Milagros Batista’s blouse and jewelry
Milagros Batista, co-founder and former head of community outreach at Alianza Dominicana, wore this white blouse and jewelry to a vigil for the families and survivors of September 11. Batista, along with a group of social workers, family members of victims, and survivors, launched an art healing program called “Heart to Heart” for children and adults. The program also provided food and rent relief for families post September 11.

 


This program series is made possible by the generous support of the Robert and Arlene Kogod Family Foundation and with federal support through the Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center. The New York City Latino 9-11 collecting initiative is also supported through the Latino Initiatives Pool.


 

 

 

Iniciativa de Colección NYC Latino 9-11

Poco después de los ataques del 11 de septiembre, el Museo Nacional de Historia Americana empezó a recolectar objetos para documentar y preservar un registro material de ese importante evento en la historia del país. Las prioridades de colección fueron los ataques, los esfuerzos de respuesta y rescate y las conmemoraciones que siguieron. El Congreso designó al museo como repositorio oficial de las colecciones relativas al 11 de septiembre, de modo que los artefactos pudieran conservarse de manera permanente para ayudar a futuras generaciones de historiadores y visitantes a entender los terribles eventos, sus raíces y sus consecuencias a largo plazo.

En 2018, con fondos del Centro Latino Smithsonian, el Museo Nacional de Historia Americana lanzó la Iniciativa de Colección New York City Latino 9-11 para ampliar las narrativas de la Colección Nacional 11 de Septiembre, identificando relatos, objetos y material de archivo sobre la comunidad latina para crear contenido y visibilidad para esta.

Los latinos/as, que eran un 27% de la población de la ciudad en 2001, cuentan una historia más amplia de pertenencia y dolor, que no solo habla de héroes cotidianos que hicieron turnos de 12 horas durante las labores de rescate, sino también del esfuerzo emocional y físico de educadores y trabajadores sociales que prestaron tiempo y recursos como voluntarios en medio de la devastación, recordándonos el caos, la valentía, la pérdida y la unión que suscitó aquel día fatídico.

La Iniciativa de Colección NYC Latino 9-11 aspira a reunir y preservar artefactos que hablen de los empleados desplazados. Por lo menos 3,000 empleos relacionados se perdieron y docenas de pequeños negocios latinos se vieron obligados a cerrar. En las labores de recuperación, un gran porcentaje del equipo de limpieza eran latinos/as. Cerca del 10% de las víctimas desaparecidas o muertas eran latinos/as –con o sin documentos, con ciudadanía estadounidense o extranjera–. Las historias del personal de primera respuesta, de los enfermos y los moribundos, así como de las organizaciones comunitarias y los voluntarios que les ofrecieron ayuda, son cruciales para nuestra meta.

La Iniciativa colaboró con una gran variedad de personas y organizaciones, entre estas el Consulado de México en Nueva York, el Instituto Cultural Mexicano, el Comité de Salud y Seguridad Ocupacional de la Ciudad de Nueva York, trabajadores sociales de Alianza Dominicana y voluntarios como la abogada Debra Steinberg, que ofreció asistencia legal gratis a las víctimas indocumentadas del 11 de septiembre y sus familias. Ejemplos de artículos que buscamos coleccionar son: arte conmemorativo, ropa y accesorios usados durante los ataques y en su secuela, material de archivo que documente batallas legales y médicas en curso, uniformes y equipo de primeros respondedores e historias orales de los afectados y quienes los ayudaron.

Reconocemos que nuestra labor provoca conversaciones difíciles, sobre todo si hablamos de estatus migratorio y estrés postraumático. Este proyecto es parte de un diálogo global sobre los aspectos éticos del coleccionismo con base comunitaria. Estamos investigando, junto a nuestros colaboradores y donantes, cómo servir mejor a nuestras comunidades, escuchar sus historias, descubrir colecciones en potencia y lograr medios adecuados y respetuosos de presentar una interpretación más completa de sus aportaciones a la narrativa nacional del 11 de septiembre.

 

Spanish translations for this page are under review and will be posted as soon as possible.

Recent acquisitions

Univision journalist Blanca Rosa Vilchez’s blouse and jacket
Univision journalist Blanca Rosa Vilchez’s blouse and jacket
Peruvian-American Univision journalist Blanca Rosa Vilchez was near the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, to cover the city’s primary elections. After witnessing the collapse of the Twin Towers, she ran for her life but stayed on the scene, reporting the news about the attacks for Univision. She continued to report on the events for three days straight. She had selected this blue jewel toned blouse and black jacket specifically for that day because the weather forecast predicted a blue-sky day. She never wore these clothes again.
First responder Ivonne Coppola Sanchez’s subway advertisement
First responder Ivonne Coppola Sanchez’s subway advertisement
Puerto Rican Ivonne Coppola Sanchez donated a sweatshirt she wore as a New York Fire Department Emergency Medical Services first responder at Ground Zero, searching for survivors. She worked to set up a makeshift morgue, during which New York-based photographer Joel Meyerowitz captured a portrait in which she wore the sweatshirt. Non-profit organization New York Committee for Occupational Safety & Health used her portrait in their city-wide Spanish outreach campaign to support Latino workers at risk due to the debris from the events of September 11.
Community organizer Milagros Batista’s blouse and jewelry
Community organizer Milagros Batista’s blouse and jewelry
Milagros Batista, co-founder and former head of community outreach at Alianza Dominicana, wore this white blouse and jewelry to a vigil for the families and survivors of September 11. Batista, along with a group of social workers, family members of victims, and survivors, launched an art healing program called “Heart to Heart” for children and adults. The program also provided food and rent relief for families post September 11.

 


Esta serie de programación se ha hecho posible con el generoso apoyo de la Robert and Arlene Kogod Family Foundation y el fondo federal para iniciativas Latinas, administrado por el Centro Latino Smithsonian. Conjunto con la iniciativa de colección del New York City Latino 9-11, también con el apoyo del fondo federal para iniciativas Latinas.


 

 

September 11 object donations

If you have an artifact that you would like to donate, please contact us at September11Donations@si.edu or at 202-633-3423 to obtain the proper procedure for donating items to the collections. It is Smithsonian Institution policy not to accept unsolicited donations, so please do not send any items directly.