Michelle Delaney
Collections Manager, Photographic History Collection

"...the response is 'No, go to Shanksville, Pennsylvania.'"
Tim Shaffer is a contract photographer with Reuters and he works out of Delaware. He finds out whatís happening in New York from some contractors who are working in his home who have the radio on, and immediately tries to call Reuters to find out what he should do. He can't get through--lines are busy, the phoneís not working.

By 11:00 he decides to get on AOL instant messenger and thatís how he reaches Reuters. Types in "Should I go to New York?" and the response is "No, go to Shanksville, Pennsylvania." And he didn't really didn't know what was happening, he hadn't quite heard that part of the story yet. But he leaves his family and he drives the long drive to Pennsylvania.

Lots of other people are starting to arrive in Pennsylvania and thereís really no access on September 11. But the police tell him "Come back early in the morning, you'll have access to the site." And one of the reasons I selected Shaffer for the Shanksville portion of my collecting is one of the first images I saw by him; itís almost cathedral-like, the smoke going up through these enormous trees in the forest around Shanksville. The crater in the foreground with the rescue workers in their yellow and their white clothing. It takes your breath away - thereís nothing. There's nothing there to see in Shanksville except this crater and a few pieces scattered in the field from the plane.

So he does his best to get the closest views he can and he gets these incredible views of the crater. He also has images of the police going up a winding road in the mist of the morning on horseback and in their police cars and the coroner arriving in his big truck with the coroner's sign on the outside. But there aren't that many images of the plane crash, the site in Shanksville that I wanted to collect. Shaffer's images told the story completely and succinctly.