Over the last 12 months, historians, curators and archivists collected these artefacts, mindful of the urgencies that shaped their selection. ‘There were no guidelines’, said Dr Sarah M. Henry, Vice President for Programs at the Museum of the City of New York. ‘From the beginning, there were impassioned calls to collect artefacts, but there was also institutional squeamishness at not being like ambulance chasers. We asked, was it ghoulish, or in some way unseemly, to proceed?’ Some historians, like Kenneth T. Jackson, President of the New York Historical Society, began collecting almost immediately. A vestryman at St Paul’s Chapel near ground zero, Dr Jackson found himself gathering paper and debris, most notably a blasted window blind from the trade center that had lodged in a churchyard tree. It will be part of the society’s exhibition beginning Tuesday of 30 of the hundreds of objects it collected. ‘These objects have been touched by history’, said Dr Jackson, who directed his staff to respond immediately to the terrorist attacks. ‘They have the power to speak to people, because the artefacts witnessed the event and its aftermath.’