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JFK Records Online

Greg Wagner

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By Lauren Keiper


updated 2011-01-13T18:54:48

BOSTON — Thousands of documents, photos and even recorded phone conversations of President John F. Kennedy are going online and available to a whole new generation of high-tech armchair historians.

The online digital archive of the 35th U.S. president was being unveiled on Thursday by the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum in Boston.

Now, instead of having to travel to Boston, historians and the general public alike will have online access to 200,000 document pages, 1,200 individual telephone conversations, speeches and meetings and 1,500 photos.

"For young people today, if it isn't on the Internet, it doesn't really exist," said library director Tom Putnam. "I hope this brings him alive to a new generation of Americans. (It offers) a fuller sense of the man."

It took four years to digitize the artifacts, photos and videos, and the process is ongoing, said Putnam. He called the collection "the largest and most sophisticated digital presidential archive in the nation."

A team of nearly two dozen people scanned Kennedy's professional and personal records and tagged all key data, Putnam said.

Four major technology firms were involved. EMC Corp. donated high-speed storage, Iron Mountain contributed secure computing facilities, AT&T provided hosting and networking for the new collection and Raytheon spearheaded project management.

The digital archives ensure that important documents are backed up electronically in high resolution, should anything happen to the physical records, Putnam said.

The Kennedy library website typically garners 3 million hits a year, a number Putnam said he expects to increase substantially after the launch of the digital archives.

A previous special exhibit about the historic moon landing and Kennedy's efforts to advance the space program saw 8 million hits in a matter of days, he said.

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Interviewed by his former deputy Tom Braden, Braden is quick to cut off the interview when Dulles starts talking about the assassination.

And how could Dulles not know what year the assassination took place - he says Nov. 62 and it stands uncorrected.



DULLES: Oh, I rated him high, maybe that's trite to put it that way, but I rated him high.

I shall never forget when I first heard the news of the Dallas tragedy. I felt that

here is a man who hadn't had a chance really to show his full capabilities, that

he was just reaching a point where his grasp of all the intricacies of the presidency were such

that now he could move forward. He'd gone through the very difficult days, problems with

Khrushchev [Nikita Sergeyevich Khruschev], the confrontation after the Cuban business, and

all that, that he had put behind him, the testing crisis, and he was at a point to move forward

and show us the full possibilities of a very extraordinary man. That tragedy was brought out

again and again when I was asked to serve on the Warren Commission and go into all the

tragic details of that event, November '62. As we were doing that work, I felt here was an

extraordinary happening in history. Here was a man, Oswald [Lee Harvey Oswald], who had

been a failure at everything he had done. He was almost a misfit in the world, and yet he

carried through successfully the intricate details of this mad act, and as I studied all that

record I could see literally hundreds of instances where if things had just been a little

different, if one fact had been known that wasn't known but which might have been known

just as the fact of his earlier attack on General Walker [Edwin A. Walker]. I'm not criticizing

anyone of that because it just wasn't known, but there were so many factors. If the employees

of the Book Depository had eaten their lunch in a little different place, if somebody had been

at one place where he might easily have been instead of another at one particular time; the

“ifs” just stand out all over it. And if any one of these “ifs” had been changed, it might have

been prevented. I don't know how we got off on that but I mean it was just your question

about the man. That was a hard task, you know, because of that; it was so tantalizing to go

over that record, as we did, trying to find out every fact connected with the assassination, and

then to say if any one of the chess pieces that were entered into the game had been moved

differently, at any one time, the whole thing might have been different.


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