What does the National Archives have on JFK?

For anyone interested in doing research on the JFK story, C-SPAN‘s useful introduction to the JFK Assassination Records Collection in College Park, Maryland, is worth a watch.

Martha Wagner Murphy, Head of the Special Access and Freedom of Information Act staff, discusses how records are preserved, including the so-called “magic bullet,” Oswald’s rifle, and the Zapruder film.

But the video cannot obscure the failure of the Archives to join the digital age. At the end of the video, Murphy says the Archives is trying to digitize the JFK collection “so that anyone anywhere” can have access to the JFK record. In fact, the Web site of the non-profit Mary Ferrell Foundation is already far, far ahead of the U.S. government in making the JFK story available to anyone.

The JFK Records Collection is an invaluable national resource but the National Archives Web site on the subject is subpar by the standards of 2014. The site’s interface is vintage 1998, The functionality is lousy: (you can’t search within documents; you can’t download documents as PDFs, etc) And the online collection is tiny. Of the five million JFK assassination records in College Park, the Archives has a few dozen online. F

By contrast MaryFerrell.org has a more than 1 million documents online, along with useful introductions to the many controversies around the JFK story. In my recent piece for Medium, JFK 3.0, I argue that civil society is now writing the JFK assassination story, not the government and not Hollywood. The proof lies in the superiority of the Mary Ferrell Web site over the National Archives JFK records web site.



  1. Mayra Solloa says:

    Among the artifacts at NA, the 40.2 inch, 7.5 pound Mannlicher Carcano short rifle excels because it was occupied by the Dallas police at the sniper nest and the Warren Commission reported that Oswald ordered a 36 inch, 5.5 pound Mannlicher Carcano carbine.
    Behind this firearm there is an amazing story. Oswald paid for the carbine with a $21.45 money order mailed on March 12, 1963 from Dallas, received the next day at Klein’s Sporting Goods in Chicago, 700 miles away, and deposited in Klein’s account at the first National Bank of Chicago the same day. Such a fast track transaction was just impossible by that time.
    The money order should bare four separate stamps, but it bears only one (for the deposit by Klein’s). It was mailed prior to 10:30 am at a post office that opened at 8:00 am. Oswald’s assignment sheet at Jaggers-Chiles-Stovall that day shows he was continually busy from 8:00 am to 12:15 pm.
    There is no evidence that Oswald picked up the firearm at the post office, although it was ordered in the name of A. Hidell and arrived in the name of Lee Oswald. The WC reported the portion of Oswald’s application listing others for picking up at his box was thrown out after the box was closed in May, but in 1963 the post office box applications must be kept for two years after the closing, as it happened with Oswald’s box in New Orleans.

  2. Bill Callahan says:

    I have a question that I’d like to have addressed: Now that DNA Evidence can be traced and saved from the most minuscule materials….is there any way to encourage the National Archives to have the Kennedy/Connally bullet tested for a mixture of DNA. In fact, is there ANY DNA material still on this bullet?

    Obviously…mixed DNA…or DNA from both men, recovered from the nose, or the base (where I assume the greatest chance of finding any is possible) but’s the baby to bed once and for all. Heck…can you imagine if this bullet actually turns out to be exactly what it is purported to be?

    I would be thinking that DNA, which can still be gleaned from a cigarette butt tossed outside and left in the rain for days…put into a bag and tagged…and then tested 20 YEARS LATER, can be found in amazing places these days.

    Anyone?? 😉

    • Vanessa Loney says:

      I agree Bill. And if they can’t get DNA from the bullet how about from Connally’s clothing.

      In fact I’d also like to see JFK’s clothing be tested for whatever they can find about the bullets that struck him (including whether they contain mercury – that never degrades).

      • Bill Callahan says:

        Vanessa. Connally’s clothes were, of all things, sent out and Dry Cleaned before they were gathered for evidence. Hung up and pressed.

        • Vanessa Loney says:

          Thanks Bill – did you see the Daily Mail article link below though? If that shirt has been cleaned then someone should get a refund from their dry cleaner.

          I would have expected more blood though.

  3. Larry Schnapf says:

    The Fox program that suggested a 2nd gunman from top of Records Building interviewed the DOJ lawyer who had prepared report on tissue residue appearing to exist on the magic bullet and recommending DNA testing…

  4. Bill Callahan says:

    Here is a HSCA report on Connally, his clothing, and his wounds.

    • Vanessa Loney says:

      Thanks for that Bill

      It looks as though the jacket was cleaned but that the shirt wasn’t. At least that’s how I read this article. Happy to hear other interpretations though because there does not appear to be a lot of blood on Connally’s shirt to me.


      • Bill Clarke says:

        Sometimes a FMJ will do that. Not leave a lot of blood that is.

        • Vanessa Loney says:

          Thanks Bill – that does make good sense. The reason I raised it though is because Connally said that the reason he knew he was badly hit was because of the amount of blood on his shirt.

          WC testimony “ I knew it when I just looked down and I was covered with blood, and the thought immediately passed through my mind that there were either two or three people involved or more in this or someone was shooting with an automatic rifle. These were just thoughts that went through my mind because of the rapidity of these two, of the first shot plus the blow that I took, and I knew I had been hit, and I immediately assumed, because of the amount of blood, and in fact, that it had obviously passed through my chest, that I had probably been fatally hit.”

          He seems to be referring specifically to the chest blood (although he might mean his other wounds too) and considering he was also wearing a jacket I would have expected more blood on the shirt (even if it has been dry cleaned).

  5. Bill Callahan says:

    Vanessa: Line 7, 8 and 9 deal with cleaning. They refer to it as ‘this and other’ in reference to Governor Connally’s ‘garments’. They just simply collected it at Parkland and cleaned it up.

    • Vanessa Loney says:

      Thanks Bill,

      You’re right it does specifically say the shirt was cleaned at page 140 (quote below). But whoever did it didn’t do a very good job because there is still blood on it.

      “The coat, shirt and trousers were cleaned prior to their receipt in the laboratory, which might account for the fact that no foreign deposits of metal or other substances were found on the cloth surrounding the holes”.

      It does beg the question though, if the Texas state archives can exhibit the clothing for the public why can’t they let some laboratories examine it too? It would be good if the shirt could be tested for whatever can be gleaned from it (even if it is only drycleaning fluid).

      And that Daily Mail headline should really read “Badly Dry Cleaned, Bullet Ridden Shirt that Texas Governor was Wearing as he sat in front of President Kennedy during the assassination Now on Display”.

  6. Bill Callahan says:

    Here is something I found ridiculous on face value, a couple of years ago. It was when Dr. Baden reported that there was a 2nd burial for JFK. So, I checked around for notes on that subject and came up with this video. I think 9 out of 10 people looking it this may be shocked.

    It’s baden describing what he learned about the brain and tissues (from Kennedy associates). Including photos that…well…are shocking.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FN5IRCbVhjgHere is the link: Start it at the 7:18 mark.

    The part that I found shocking is when Dr. Baden claims the Brain/Tissues/Materials were put ‘next’ to the casket. However…this can’t be true because, in the video and photos you’ll see, JFK’s casket has been removed from the ground and RFK and Teddy were right there. I think brain and materials were placed back into the coffin. My rationale is pretty direct as to why I say that: If they were only going to be place ‘next to the coffin’ as Baden states…why take the coffin from the ground…complete with dirt, crane, etc. They could have placed it directly on top of the coffin WITHOUT having to lift it out of the ground.

    This may freak out some people…but that’s what we’re here for.

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