Collecting oral histories of public health professionals' response to the September 11 attacks and the aftermath

The immediate response to the World Trade Center disaster and the threat of bioterrorism has affected everyone. Yet, perhaps no profession has been more fundamentally impacted than public health. An argument can be made that in future years, the scope of activities that public health professionals are called upon to provide could be fundamentally redefined. While there is an abundance of analysis of the crisis itself, no one is documenting the transformation of the field through the eyes of those most immediately involved: public health officials and workers who were called upon to react to the immediate crisis at the World Trade Center, to the various reports of anthrax, and to the rising anxiety about smallpox. The purpose of this project is to document the events that are quickly transforming the New York City Health Department and the CDC in the wake of the past three months. Through oral histories of key officials and workers in these public health agencies, the events that are now unfolding will be documented and assessed. This effort will assure that a valuable resource for future generations of policy-makers and historians is not lost. This project will be considered a success if it: (1) completes a set of oral histories in a timely fashion; (2) results in a series of academic papers and presentations on the topic of the public health response to 9/11; and (3) leads to a longer-term research project focused on lessons learned concerning public health infrastructure.

Grant Details

Amount Awarded $50,000.00

Awarded on: 1/22/2002

Time frame: 2/1/2002 - 1/31/2003

Grant Number: 44755


Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health

722 West 168th Street
New York, 10032-3702


David Rosner
Project Director