After watching the Sept. 11 attacks unfold, Michael Ragsdale started a personal campaign to collect fliers, cards and brochures that marked the day’s events and the subsequent months.
“I decided to collect stuff that I felt would be ignored,” he said.
Seeing the North Tower on fire, Ragsdale said he knew something unprecedented was happening and sensed the towers may not exist much longer. He quickly went down to the site, feeling compelled to grab any memorabilia. He took a couple hundred World Trade Center brochures shortly before the towers fell.
Ragsdale, who has been an autograph collector since 1997, began collecting this 9/11 ephemera over the 14 months following the attacks.
“I had the opportunity to do it, so I did it,” he said.
Ragsdale collected pieces such as event fliers that organizations handed out on the streets. One flier read: “Protest Fire Bombings Against Arab Stores." He also collected warning signs posted around ground zero and the World Trade Center site, including one that said, “Crime Scene Search Area: Stop."
He said the most shocking piece he collected was a sign he got from around ground zero that read “Warning: Poison.”
Ragsdale's ephemera collection was acquired by the National September 11 Memorial & Museum for display in future exhibitions. The collection has more than 4,100 pieces. These collected items are to become part of the showcases highlighting the aftermath of the attacks.
Image A: A flier posted by the New York City Police Department near ground zero, indicating "Crime Scene Search Area STOP". Image B: A flier that was handed out asking for volunteers to show support for ground zero rescue workers.
By Meghan Walsh, Communications Associate with the 9/11 Memorial