This study examined delay related changes of people's recollections for 11th September 2001. 1481 participants were surveyed 4–24 hours or 10 days after the event. 142 participants were re-tested in April, 2002. Test-retest consistency was low after seven months (66.5%). Word counts for open ended descriptions revealed that people wrote significantly more contextual information 10 days after the event than respondents had on 11th or 12th September although no difference was found for retest participants 7 months later. Ratings for emotional reaction decreased monotonically over time. These results suggest early indexing may be a critical factor if the amount of information reported, type of information reported, or level of affect is a research issue. However, test-retest consistency was not influenced by the ten day delay in indexing. Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.