Court Reporters to Transcribe 9/11 Audio Files

Stories from the 9/11 terrorist attacks will soon be preserved by court reporters, who will transcribe more than 800 audio interviews conducted with friends, colleagues, and family members of those who died in the attacks. The collection of stories will be compiled through the Oral History Project of the Flight 93 National Memorial, and will include the experiences of those who knew the individuals on board United Airlines Flight 93 that crashed in a field in rural Pennsylvania. The recordings to be transcribed for the project also include interviews with investigators, first responders, eyewitnesses, air traffic controllers, and others with firsthand experience from that tragically historic day.

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The Pennsylvania Court Reporters Association and several of its members have volunteered to transcribe the collection of oral statements. The idea came from a meeting between the president of the PCRA and the president of the Friends of Flight 93 National Memorial. According to both, having court reporters transcribe the audio files into accurately written documents just made sense. They cited the overall “volunteer spirit” of court reporters as the ideal means through which a project like this should be implemented. Roughly 300 official court reporters will be presented with an offer to volunteer their time and effort on the project.

It is believed that the experience and professionalism of these individuals will be integral in making the information contained in the interviews and audio files much more accessible for organizers to be able to develop programs and exhibits at the Flight 93 memorial.

The task of transcribing audio files is extremely cumbersome and time-consuming. At this point, as far as these 9/11 files are concerned, it has primarily been retired schoolteachers who volunteered their time to do these transcriptions. Still, with 800 files still in need of transcription, it is believed that professional court reporters are the most efficient way to complete the task.