Sonic Browser Stories About Add a Story For Educators Timeline

The curriculum here, used with the Sonic Memorial, helps us ask and answer all of these questions and more. Together, they can help us to understand not just the World Trade Center, but the place of the World Trade Center in our many histories.

—Robert W. Snyder, Rutgers-Newark

The events of September 11 were a singular tragedy, but they unleashed an infinite number of stories. In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, they were mostly tales of death and survival. As time passed, the recollections deepened. People talked about how the World Trade Center was built, about the lives and work that quickened its corridors, about how the Twin Towers became the setting for human dramas in a grand metropolis. Now these stories have a home in the Sonic Memorial Project.

In the swirl of voices and imagery surrounding 9/11, the Sonic Memorial lets us hear known and unknown voices telling us about the World Trade Center. Individually and collectively, they help us understand how the World Trade Center defined New York and how New Yorkers, and the rest of the world, defined the World Trade Center.

The stories collected in the Sonic Memorial also help us to begin conversations about the larger themes that circulate through and around the history of the World Trade Center: the relationships between buildings and cities, private lives and public events, past and present, memory and history, memorial and tragedy.

Finally, the Sonic Memorial helps us to make the kinds of comparisons that help us fit the World Trade Center and its tragic end into personal and public histories. What would a disaster of this scale mean in your life, in your city? How do our reactions to 9/11 illuminate our own times and places? How does a comparison between, for example, newspaper reports on Pearl Harbor and 9/11 tell us something about the evolution of American politics, culture, journalism, and Americans' ways of understanding war?

Note to teachers:

This material is written to support national standards in social studies education, and may also conform to your state standards. For comparative purposes, one resource on the web is

The curriculum is divided into six modules each containing two to three lessons. Each lesson stands alone, although many of them complement each other and could be built into longer units.

Follow-up activities are ideas to deepen students' skills and reflection in each module. Additional resources for each module are another tool for creating engaging and academically rigorous units.

History and Time
What is a "historical" event? What is the role of memory in history? How do they differ?

Every memorial says as much about the life and times of its creators as it does about the memorialized person or event. What purposes do memorials serve? Does the meaning of a memorial change over time? (Developed by Facing History and Ourselves.)

The Places and Stories of Our Lives
What do the stories from the broadcasts about building stewardesses and Mohawk ironworkers teach us about work, identity, community transitions, and the power of persuasion?

Civic Ideals and Practices
How did the media shape our knowledge of September 11? How do we differentiate between fact and opinion?

Culture and Identity
How do our learned values, personal ideals, and social constraints influence us? What filters do we each bring to our interpretation of events?

How to Talk about 9/11
Starting points for talking to your class about the events of September 11.

Share Your Experience
We'd love to hear from you. If you have created a sucessful lesson that you'd like to pass on or you have taught these lessons and would like to share your experience, please contact us.

These lesson plans were created by:
Suzanne Stenson O'Brien [outreach consultant]
Kerry Herlihy [High School teacher]
Robert Snyder [specialist in the history of New York City and author of The Voice of the City]
Howard Lurie [Facing History and Ourselves]
Special thanks to Sandra Simpson, Michael Stuart, and Caroline Berz.


Photo courtesy: Britta Frahm