Accession Number: C.2016.89.1
Dimensions: 11 in X 9 in X 0.75 in
Dimensions (Metric): 27.94 cm X 22.86 cm X 1.905 cm
Credit Line: Gift of the Thomas - Spates family
A Tragedy in Our Lives: September 11, 2001
Handmade memory book titled "A Tragedy in Our Lives: September 11, 2001," written and created by Loretta Thomas and her daughter Madeline Spates. The front cover of the book is a copy of a child's drawing of lower Manhattan with the Twin Towers. "I [heart] WTC & NYC" is written above the drawing, and "We will always remember you" is written over the towers.
The book is part journal and part scrapbook, with diary entries written in a child's hand next to a typed transcription and other typed text. There are photographs documenting various trips to the lower Manhattan area and newspaper clippings. The contents of the book document the 9/11 experience and aftermath of one resident lower Manhattan family.
Shortly after September 11, 2001, Loretta Thomas and her daughter Madeline Spates, then 8 years old, were inspired to create a book about their entwined experiences that day, and the challenges they confronted as lower Manhattan residents in the weeks and months that followed. The family lived just three blocks north of the World Trade Center site. Thomas owned and operated a business in the area, and her husband, Dennis, worked in the Woolworth Building. In 2001, their young daughter, Madeline, was attending P.S. 234 Independence School, located in the shadow of the Twin Towers.
Their book incorporates pages from Madeline’s journal that the teachers at P.S. 234 had urged all the older students to write in the aftermath of September 11. Interleaved with it are Thomas’s own photographs illustrating her family’s experience. Unable to return home after the event, they lived in various New York City hotels until November. Thomas lost one year’s worth of business at her dance studio. Her daughter was displaced from her neighborhood school until February 2002. The family’s personal saga is complemented by relevant clippings from The New York Times, Newsweek, and New York Magazine, along with well-known images of the attacks and their aftermath. The scrapbook-like book offers glimpses into how the 9/11 disaster affected lower Manhattan from its residents, to its small businesses, to its school community, and how one family worked together to process their complex feelings from 9/11 through the creation of this book.