Background to this guide/project

The September 11 UK Families Support Group was founded in 2002 by and for the UK families whose loved ones were lost in the terrorist attacks in the USA on September 11, 2001. The organisation’s aim is to provide a forum for the mutual support of the UK 9/11 families.

In September 2021, and prompted by the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and relevant ongoing discussions among S11UFSG members, Jelena Watkins (Trustee of S11UKFSG and member of the Project’s team) initiated a discussion with members of the Project team about the formation of an archive of the Group’s history and activity. The group’s archive features both individual and collective records, consisting of documents related to the formation and running of the group as well as cuttings, invitations, letters, documents and minutes, among others, regarding memorials and events.

This led to a Social Responsibility grant by the University of Manchester, which aimed to: 

  • Understand the motivations, aims, benefits and challenges of the formation, relevance, value, and use of personal, family, and community archives around traumatic events. 
  • Explore models of self- and group management of such archives, assist individuals and communities plan for such work, and identify the scope of cultural professional and psychological support that this work might require. 
  • Produce relevant guidance for key stakeholders including: those directly affected by disaster (bereaved people, survivors, associations and communities) and training material for professionals working with such groups (e.g. trauma therapists, disaster managers, and museum professionals and archivists). 

This guide is based on the experiences and learnings from engaging with members of the S11UKFSG in 2022 by a project team of researchers and heritage and disaster professionals. It provides a summary of the stages of consultation and decision making that were required in advance of finding a permanent home for the archive material with a host organisation. 


Project team

Dr Kostas Arvanitis, Senior Lecturer in Museology, University of Manchester

Kostas has been researching museum practices on collecting and documenting spontaneous memorials related to traumatic events, including the Manchester Arena attack (22nd May 2017). 

Dr Anne Eyre and Jelena Watkins, Centre for Collective Trauma

Anne is a sociologist specialising in trauma and disaster management and Liaison Officer for Disaster Action; Jelena is Trustee of S11UKFSG and also psychotherapist specialising in disaster trauma. 

Dr Andy Hardman, Belle Vue Productions 

Andy is an academic (University of Manchester) and filmmaker. His company, Belle Vue Productions is a film and creative research company with experience in producing films of traumatic events. 

Jen Kavanagh, independent curator and oral historian

Jen specialises in contemporary and community collecting and has delivered projects related to the July 7 2005 London bombings.