At the time of the September 11th terror attacks, Michael Ragsdale, a New York City-based video producer, was employed as a senior technician for Audio Visual Services at the College of Physicians & Surgeons at Columbia University Medical Center and occasional video crew member for C-SPAN. His private passion was autograph collecting, a hobby fortified by his active participation in the Ephemera Society. On the morning of the attacks, Ragsdale voted in the NYC Primary Election and then headed to his first work assignment where NY Governor George Pataki was scheduled to speak. Just before 9 A.M., while preparing the set-up, Ragsdale noticed the beepers worn by Pataki’s staff beginning to go off simultaneously. They exited the building as a group, abruptly canceling the press conference, a signal to Ragsdale that something serious had happened. Sometime later, Ragsdale spotted hundreds of receipts littering the ground in the vicinity of a group of ATM bank machines all marked with the same words: “transaction denied, 9-11-01.” He paused to pick up and pocket one of the receipts. Thus, was born an idea for a new collection.
Ragsdale's impulse to collect ephemera related to the World Trade Center and the aftermath of the attacks culminated in a vast and unique archive of paper ephemera. Fliers, posters, brochures, cards, public notices, copies of speeches, lesser-known publications and event programs. Not meant to be saved, most were mass produced for easy distribution. Numbering over 4,000 individual pieces, the materials document a breadth of urgent messages and evolving information reflecting the efforts of New Yorkers to cope with 9/11’s disruptions and repercussions. Communications include expressions of mourning and tribute; cries for civic participation, discussion and rebuilding; calls for volunteers; denunciations of terrorism and violence; pleas for peace, protest or tolerance; offers of help from the federal government, state, city and other service groups; and appeals for reflection, love and prayer.
Chronologically, Ragsdale’s collection spans a 14-month period, from September 2001 through winter 2002. This Feature Gallery surveys a subset of items from Ragsdale's Aftermath Ephemera Collection.