Since its inception, the 9/11 Memorial Museum has searched for photographs of all 2,983 victims of the attack to display in a portrait wall at the museum. But despite the museum’s best efforts, photos of seven victims, all of them immigrants, could not be found. Last September, the New York Times published a front-page story about the museum’s quest to locate those images.
The article caught the eye of Katherine Lotspeich, a federal worker in Washington D.C., who thought she could help, the Times reported in a follow-up story published this week.
Lotspeich was struck by the placeholder image of an oak leaf amid all of the faces of those killed and thought she and her coworkers at the Immigration Records and Identity Services Directorate, part of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Department of Homeland Security, could track down the elusive photos. She shared the article with her boss, Tammy Meckley, who assigned two records specialists to the case.
The search lead to the archives of inactive immigrant records, stored 60-feet below ground in a limestone cave in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, where astonishingly they located the files of five of the seven missing people.
“I got a chill,” Ms. Meckley told the Times. “My gosh, these are the records that the museum is looking for. Please let there be photos.”
The photos were in the files and the agency furnished them to the museum. Last week, museum staff added the five photographs to the portrait gallery.
“It was an extraordinary windfall,” National September 11 Memorial & Museum President & CEO Alice M. Greenwald told the Times.
Now, of the 2,983 victims honored in the portrait gallery, the museum is still searching for the photos of just two people: Antonio Dorsey Pratt and Albert Ogletree. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the museum.
By 9/11 Memorial Staff