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.