Archivally Speaking Thu, 08 Jan 2015 03:57:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Kennedy Library Remembers Warren Cikins Thu, 08 Jan 2015 03:57:13 +0000

Continue reading »]]> We are very sad to report that Warren I. Cikins, whose personal papers reside at the Kennedy Library, passed away on December 13, 2014. Cikins was a dedicated public servant at both the federal and local levels. He began his lengthy career as a legislative assistant to Congressman Brooks Hays of Arkansas, and went on to work for several federal agencies. He was a White House staffer during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations (1962-1966). In 1975, Cikins was elected to the Board of Supervisors in his local community of Fairfax, Virginia. He also worked for the Brookings Institution for nearly two decades.


Photograph of Warren I. Cikins





The collection guide to the Warren I. Cikins Personal Papers is available on our website.

Warren Cikins’ obituary and memorial service (click “on demand viewer”) are also online for those who would like to learn more about this most interesting gentleman.






Those of us at the Kennedy Library who had the good fortune to work with Mr. Cikins knew him to be a very kind, compassionate, and generous man who took great pains to ensure that his papers and his long political career were described accurately. He provided great assistance to the Archives staff and always did so with good humor and warmth.

We will miss Warren Cikins, though are heartened to know that his legacy will live on for generations to come.

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Newly Processed Collection: James Saxon Personal Papers Thu, 08 Jan 2015 03:05:15 +0000

Continue reading »]]> by Christina Lehman Fitzpatrick, Processing Archivist

We are pleased to announce that the James Saxon Personal Papers are open and available for research. Saxon served as Comptroller of the Currency during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations (1961-1966). As an independent bureau of the U.S. Treasury Department, the Office of the Comptroller is charged with regulating and administering the system of national banks.

James Joseph Saxon was born on April 13, 1914, in Toledo, Ohio. After studying economics and finance, he joined the Treasury Department in 1937 as a securities analyst in the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. During World War II, Saxon served as Treasury attaché in the Philippines, where he dealt with seized Japanese assets and advised the Army commanders on financial issues. After several years representing the Treasury abroad, Saxon returned to Washington and was appointed assistant to the Secretary of the Treasury in December 1947. He received a law degree from Georgetown University in 1950, then became special assistant to the Treasury’s General Counsel. After a brief stint with the Democratic National Committee, Saxon was named assistant general counsel of the American Bankers Association in 1952. In August 1956, he was hired as an attorney by the First National Bank of Chicago. Saxon was appointed Comptroller of the Currency by President Kennedy on November 16, 1961, and was confirmed by the Senate on February 7, 1962.

Soon after I began processing the collection, I started seeing clues that Saxon was not just another mild-mannered banker. The press dubbed him “that feuding comptroller” and the newspaper headlines blared:


“Saxon, Comptroller of US, Keeps Banking in a Whirl”

“Currency Comptroller is Most Controversial”

“U.S. Comptroller Flaunts Tradition”

“Comptroller Saxon Seems to Enjoy Maverick’s Role”


Who was this government official and how had he caused such an uproar?

I discovered that Saxon’s term as Comptroller was actually quite exciting. He took a much more active role than his predecessors and instituted many reforms in both the agency and the national banking system. These included expanding bank powers, overhauling and streamlining procedures, and lifting restrictions on certain banking products; granting approval to many new banks and branches to encourage expansion and increase competition; creating a network of regional comptrollers with more authority, as well as an international banking unit; adding a new department of trained economists; and raising hiring standards for bank examiners.




(Left) Chart showing the high number of new banks chartered during Saxon’s term. View the entire folder here.





(Right) Saxon discusses his mission and goals in this draft speech. View the entire folder here.







As Saxon explained in one speech (shown above at right):


“When I came into the office of the Comptroller of the Currency, my object was [to] see the commercial banking business inoculated with a spirit of progress, initiative, and innovation. It seemed at the time that unless the commercial banking business could be unshackled and got off dead center, it would continue to stagnate and that the economy and the society would thereby suffer. It appeared that a massive effort should be made to modernize the archaic banking structure and its operational powers and capacity, so as to make it more dynamic and competitive. This program had President Kennedy’s support, without which the controversial forward-looking program which was developed over a period of years would not have been possible.”


Saxon’s innovative approach soon caught the attention of the U.S. Congress, which was worried that he was approving charters for too many new banks. After a string of high-profile bank failures, Saxon was called to testify before Congress and defend his policies. He also butted heads with the other regulatory agencies (most notably, the Federal Reserve and the FDIC) while asserting the authority and independence of the Comptroller’s Office. Even though several of his regulatory initiatives were later overturned by the courts, Saxon left a lasting mark on the banking industry that can still be seen today.







(Right) Sample question from the briefing book Saxon used to prepare for the Congressional investigation into national banks. View the entire folder here.



(Below) Memo from Saxon to G. d’Andelot Belin, General Counsel for the Treasury Department, expressing his displeasure at perceived encroachment on the Comptroller’s authority. View the entire folder here.




















Upon his resignation at the end of 1966, Saxon received an outpouring of congratulations from bankers around the country. David Rockefeller of the Chase Manhattan Bank wrote:


“I am sure that when the final version of the history of banking in the United States is written, your role as a stimulating, activating, organizing force will loom large. These past few years have been turbulent and exciting. The industry needed to be stirred up and modified, and you [helped] to do both. Congratulations on the fine services you have rendered our country!”






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Newly Opened Collection: John H. Sharon Personal Papers Mon, 01 Dec 2014 22:48:29 +0000

Continue reading »]]> by Abigail Malangone, Processing Archivist

We are pleased to announce the opening of the John H. Sharon Personal Papers collection.

John H. Sharon was a Washington, D.C.-based attorney whose personal papers document his interest and involvement in the Democratic Party in the 1950s and 1960s. The materials in this collection focus primarily on Sharon’s association with Adlai Stevenson and John F. Kennedy.

Sharon was a supporter of Adlai Stevenson, serving as Director of the National Stevenson-Kefauver headquarters in the 1956 presidential campaign. Sharon’s 1956 campaign files cover a variety of topics including: television publicity, delegates, campaign finances, and hydrogen bomb testing. The hydrogen bomb testing issue became a major focus of Governor Stevenson’s campaign against President Eisenhower. Sharon compiled a report entitled “The History of the H-Bomb Issue in the 1956 Presidential Campaign” at the request of the Dean of the George Washington University Law School, Sharon’s alma mater.






Table of contents and excerpt from the hydrogen bomb report written in May 1958. View the entire folder here.







Sharon also served as the deputy campaign manager for the “Stevenson for President” organization in 1960. He worked to galvanize support for Stevenson’s potential third consecutive presidential run.







Pages from Sharon’s to-do list before the 1960 Democratic Convention. View the entire folder here.








Sharon’s association with John F. Kennedy began in 1950. Before practicing as an attorney, Sharon was an aide to Congressman Charles Howell of New Jersey; Congressman Kennedy occupied the office next door. They had contact over the years; Sharon even contributed funds to Kennedy’s 1958 Senate campaign.











Letter from John Sharon to Senator John F. Kennedy, 30 October 1958. View the entire folder here.















In November 1960 Stevenson wrote a memorandum to President-elect Kennedy sharing his thoughts on the foreign policy outlook for the new administration. The memo was delivered by Sharon and George W. Ball (a Sharon colleague and future Undersecretary of State for Economic and Cultural Affairs). Kennedy soon requested that Sharon and Ball organize foreign policy task forces to aid in the presidential transition; he further requested that the two compile pertinent foreign policy questions for him to discuss with President Eisenhower during their December 1960 meeting. Final task force reports were presented to President Kennedy in January 1961 on the following subjects: Africa, balance of payments, disarmament, foreign economic policy, the United States Information Agency, and State Department operations overseas and in Washington.












Page one of the press release describing the task force reports submitted to President-elect Kennedy, 13 January 1961. View the entire folder here.













Sharon talked and met with John F. Kennedy on a number of occasions during the transition and into the early months of Kennedy’s presidency. According to meeting notes written by Sharon in March 1961, President Kennedy offered Sharon an appointment in his administration. Sharon deferred, as he preferred to “…remain at his [the President's] disposal on the outside reporting in, rather than reporting up the chain.”














Excerpt of a memorandum of conversation between President Kennedy and John Sharon, 28 February 1961. View the entire folder here.











Sharon remained outside the White House and continued to practice law, working at several firms over the course of his career. He passed away in 1980 at the age of 53.



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Grabaciones de audio del director del USIA Edward R. Murrow digitalizados y disponibles en la red Sat, 22 Nov 2014 00:02:47 +0000

Continue reading »]]> por Bill Bjelf, archivero digital asistente por las colecciones audiovisuales
traducción por David Castillo, Interna en la Biblioteca Presidencial John F. Kennedy


(See English translation here.)

Se ha digitalizado una serie de grabaciones del United States Information Agency Audio Recordings Collection del Kennedy Library y se puede accederlas en nuestro archivo digital. Los Director Edward R. Murrow Recordings, 1961-1965, constan de grabaciones de audio de discursos y otras apariciones públicas del antiguo director del United States Information Agency (USIA), Edward R. Murrow. Además incluyen grabaciones de retrospectivas sobre la vida y carrera profesional de Murrow que se hicieron después de su fallecimiento en 1965.




JFKWHP-ST-C61-1-61. Presidente John F. Kennedy saluda a Edward R. Murrow en la investidura de Murrow como director del USIA, 21 Marzo 1961.

[Ver la carpeta entera aquí:]




En aquella época, el USIA actuaba como una agencia independiente de relaciones exteriores dentro del departamento ejecutivo del gobierno de los Estados Unidos. La agencia se encargaba de comunicar y promover la política exterior y los intereses de los Estados Unidos por una variedad de programas de información en el extranjero. Un objetivo clave era fomentar un entendimiento entre los Estados Unidos y otros países por medio de actividades educativas y culturales.

Antes de trabajar en el USIA, Edward R. Murrow hacía una carrera larga y prestigiosa como reportero de radio y televisión. En una de las primeras grabaciones—un comentario en una merienda en el National Press Club (USIAAU-002)—Director Murrow se refirió en broma a su cambio de profesión:


Me siento una mezcla de placer y asombro estar con vosotros hoy…placer en estar otra vez con mis colegas anteriores…asombro que ahora, me fruncís los ceños y me miráis con desaprobación cuando anteriormente, estaba sentado con vosotros con ceño fruncido.


La serie Director Edward R. Murrow Recordings trata de las actividades, metas, y desafíos del USIA; de comunicaciones y los medios; de asuntos relacionados a la Guerra Fría; y de otros temas. Grabciones de interés incluyen:


Por favor, consulte al inventario de la colección para más información. También, le animamos echar un vistazo a las grabaciones digitalizadas del USIA.

Debido a cuestiones de derechos de autor, una pequeña cantidad de grabaciones no son accesibles en nuestro archivo digital. Por favor, para más información, póngase en contacto archiveros de referencias audiovisuales:

Están en proceso la digitalización de más grabaciones del United States Information Agency Audio Recordings Collection relacionadas al Presidente Kennedy y su época y tendremos disponibles en seguida en nuestro archivo digital.



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Newly Processed Collection: Myer Feldman Personal Papers Tue, 04 Nov 2014 19:46:47 +0000

Continue reading »]]> by Christina Lehman Fitzpatrick, Processing Archivist





You were far more indispensable than the public knows to John Kennedy’s success as a Senator, candidate and President. He knew it, however; and I know he would want me to express his deep gratitude.”


– Theodore Sorensen to Myer Feldman upon learning that Feldman was leaving the White House, 23 January 1965




We are pleased to announce that the Myer Feldman Personal Papers are open and available for research. This collection provides an in-depth look at the work of one of President Kennedy’s closest advisors, his Deputy Special Counsel. Feldman’s White House Staff Files are also available for research, as well as his 14 oral history interviews.

Myer Feldman earned a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania and was serving as counsel to the U.S. Senate Banking and Currency Committee when he first met Theodore C. Sorensen and Senator John F. Kennedy. Feldman joined Kennedy’s staff as Legislative Assistant in 1958. During the 1960 presidential campaign, Feldman was Director of Research for the Democratic ticket. After winning the election, President Kennedy appointed Feldman to the post of Deputy Special Counsel. Feldman served directly under Sorensen, who was Special Counsel to the President. After President Kennedy’s death, President Lyndon B. Johnson retained Feldman and promoted him to Counsel in April 1964. During Johnson’s presidential campaign in 1964, Feldman led the effort to compile information on opponent Barry M. Goldwater. After leaving the White House in February 1965, Feldman returned to private law practice in Washington, D.C.

This collection covers a wide range of topics due to Feldman’s many duties in the White House.  In the memo seen below, he outlined his responsibilities in areas such as agriculture, commerce, aviation, transportation, immigration, and mental health. However, he was most influential as President Kennedy’s liaison to the Jewish community. In his own words, this role included “domestic issues of special interest to the community, our attitude toward Israel, United Nations actions affecting the Near East, [and] political matters.”







Memo from Myer Feldman to Theodore Sorensen listing Feldman’s general responsibilities, 2 Dec 1963.

View the entire folder here.







The following four topics are especially well documented in the Myer Feldman Personal Papers.

Israel and the Middle East: Feldman served as the main White House advisor on matters related to Israel and acted as liaison to the American Jewish community. He helped shape the administration’s strategy on Israel and the Middle East, where tensions ran high. When the President wanted to have direct policy discussions, he often sent Feldman on a secret diplomatic mission to confer with Israeli leaders face-to-face. President Johnson dubbed Feldman his “prime minister” to Israel in recognition of his contributions to important foreign policy decisions.







Excerpt of memo from Myer Feldman to Rep. Emanuel Celler, 12 June 1962. The memo outlined the “essential characteristics of the United States policy toward the Middle East” and identified four main objectives to pursue in the region.

View the entire folder here.






In one of the most controversial matters concerning the Middle East, Feldman advocated the selling of weapons to Israel in order to help defend the country against its enemies in the region. He wrote: “Our policy should be based on a desire to avoid American involvement in hostilities in the Near East. This can best be done by keeping Israeli strength at a high enough level to deter any adventure from the Arabs.” Alaska Senator Ernest Gruening (D) took exception: “Such a move can only serve to give United States approval to the arms race in the Middle East.” Read more about Feldman’s role in selling Hawk missiles to Israel in this oral history interview.





(Left) Memo from Myer Feldman to President Johnson on selling tanks to Israel, 6 Dec 1963. (Right) Letter from Sen. Gruening to President Johnson in response, 21 Dec 1963.

View the entire folder here.






Immigration reform: Soon after his inauguration, President Kennedy asked Feldman to monitor progress on immigration legislation in Congress. The administration was seeking a complete overhaul of existing immigration policies and specifically targeted the national origins quota system for elimination. Many different plans were proposed but an acceptable compromise proved extremely difficult until the Immigration and Nationality Act was signed into law by President Johnson on October 3, 1965. Although Feldman had left the White House by that time, the legislation would not have been possible without his work on the issue over the previous four years.






Memo from Myer Feldman to Jack Valenti on the immigration bill proposed by Congressman Michael A. Feighan, 12 Aug 1964. According to Feldman, the plan “contains none of the essential elements of our bill (elimination of national origins, Asia-Pacific triangle elimination, mandatory distribution of unused quota numbers).”

View the entire folder here.







International trade and tariffs: Feldman was responsible for briefing the President on matters pertaining to trade and tariffs. He traveled to Hanoke, Japan, in November 1961 to attend the conference of the Joint U.S.-Japan Committee on Trade and Economic Affairs. When Congress passed the Trade Expansion Act in 1962, the White House gained an expanded role in negotiating tariffs with foreign countries. Feldman’s papers contain many files on efforts to change import and export rates on a wide range of products, from cotton and steel to shoes and poultry. The next period of international trade negotiations (the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, or GATT), held from 1964 to 1967, was named the “Kennedy Round” in honor of the deceased president and his administration’s efforts in the field.






(Left) Letter from Secretary of State Dean Rusk asking for Feldman’s thoughts on the Hanoke conference, 9 Dec 1961. (Right) Menu for a luncheon held during the conference.

View the entire folder here.






Transportation: Feldman also handled a variety of matters pertaining to transportation and aviation. One ambitious project under consideration by the administration was a high-speed rail line along the Northeast Corridor. The idea, introduced by Senator Claiborne Pell of Rhode Island in 1962, planned to link Washington, D.C., New York City, and Boston via passenger trains running at speeds of 100 miles per hour or more. Feldman kept tabs on the proposal as the Commerce Department conducted feasibility studies in 1964. Ultimately, Congress passed the High Speed Ground Transportation Act of 1965, which was the first commitment by the federal government to fund and develop high-speed rail service in the United States.







Memorandum from Myer Feldman to President Johnson regarding the Northeast Corridor rail project, 28 May 1964.

View the entire folder here.







Finally, the Myer Feldman Personal Papers provide a perspective on how the assassination of President Kennedy affected his staff (and close friends) and how they adjusted to the different atmosphere of the Johnson Administration. Feldman was on a plane to Japan when he heard the news of President Kennedy’s assassination. In shock, he and the other cabinet members on board promptly returned to Washington. Several days later, Feldman gave a heartfelt eulogy to President Kennedy, saying “Now it is up to us to pick up the torch which he lighted and follow along the way he charted.”






Draft statement written by Myer Feldman for the Jewish community memorial service for John F. Kennedy in Washington, D.C., 25 Nov 1963.

View the entire folder here.



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USIA Director Edward R. Murrow Audio Recordings Digitized and Available Online Thu, 23 Oct 2014 18:32:06 +0000

Continue reading »]]> by Bill Bjelf, Assistant Digital Archivist for Audiovisual Collections


(Ver traducción española aquí.)

A series of materials from the Kennedy Library’s United States Information Agency Audio Recordings Collection has been digitized and made available in the Library’s digital archives. The Director Edward R. Murrow Recordings, 1961-1965, contains audio recordings of speeches and other public appearances of former United States Information Agency (USIA) Director, Edward R. Murrow. Also included are recorded retrospectives of Murrow’s life and career made following his death in 1965.




JFKWHP-ST-C61-1-61. President John F. Kennedy shakes hands with Edward R. Murrow at Murrow’s swearing-in ceremony as Director of the USIA, 21 March 1961.

[View entire folder here:]




During Director Murrow’s tenure, the USIA acted as an independent foreign affairs agency within the executive branch of the U.S. government. The agency was charged with communicating and promoting U.S. foreign policy and national interests through a wide range of overseas information programs; a key goal was to further mutual understanding between the United States and other nations through educational and cultural activities.

Before joining the USIA, Edward R. Murrow had a long and renowned career as a radio and television broadcast journalist. In one of the earliest recordings in this newly-digitized set—remarks at a luncheon at the National Press Club (USIAAU-002)—Director Murrow makes a humorous reference to his career change:


It is with mingled pleasure and awe that I join you today…pleasure at being again among so many of my former colleagues…awe that I am now the object of those scowling, critical visages among whose array I once sat with my own frowning brow.


The Director Edward R. Murrow Recordings series covers USIA activities, goals, and challenges; communications and media; issues related to the Cold War; and other topics. Recordings of particular interest include:


Please see the collection’s finding aid for more information; we also encourage you to browse the digitized USIA recordings.

Due to copyright concerns, a small number of recordings in this set are not available in our digital archives; please contact our audiovisual reference staff for more information:

More recordings from the United States Information Agency Audio Recordings Collection relating to President Kennedy and his times are currently being digitized and will be available in our digital archives soon.



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Newly Digitized: Civil Rights Materials from the Burke Marshall Personal Papers Mon, 29 Sep 2014 22:00:25 +0000

Continue reading »]]> by Elyse Edwards, Graduate Student Intern (Simmons College GSLIS)

In times of great struggle and conflict in the South,” Congressman [John] Lewis said, “during the freedom rides of 1961, when young people were being beaten by angry mobs in Montgomery and when fire hoses and dogs were being turned on people in Birmingham, people always said, ‘Call Burke.’”

["Burke Marshall, a Key Strategist Of Civil Rights Policy, Dies at 80," © The New York Times Company, June 3, 2003.]


PX 2006-114


Civil rights-related materials from the Burke Marshall Personal Papers represent the latest addition to the digital archives of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. As Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ), Burke Marshall oversaw landmark moments in civil rights and was instrumental in developing the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The newly-digitized material focuses on civil rights issues such as: desegregation of interstate transportation and travel facilities; school desegregation (including James Meredith’s fight to enter the University of Mississippi); voting rights; and legislation.







A memorandum from Burke Marshall to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy discussing pending civil rights cases, issues, incidents, and Department of Justice actions, 19 November 1962.

[View the entire folder here.]






Burke Marshall was born on October 1, 1922, in Plainfield, New Jersey. He received his undergraduate degree from Yale University before serving as a Japanese translator and cryptanalyst in the United States Army during World War II. After the war, Marshall returned to Yale for his law degree before joining the law firm of Covington and Burling. In 1961, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy appointed Marshall to the post of Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, a position he held until 1965. Following his resignation from the Department of Justice, Marshall returned to Covington and Burling before joining I.B.M., where he served as Vice President and General Counsel. In 1970, Marshall accepted a position as Deputy Dean and Professor at Yale, where he taught classes on political and civil rights for over three decades, eventually earning the title of Professor Emeritus.






Note to file by Burke Marshall regarding demonstrations in Jackson, Mississippi, 29 March 1961.

[View the entire folder here.]







As head of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, Marshall took immediate action to enforce desegregation in schools and in interstate travel. Never one to send representatives in his stead, he worked directly with affected communities and established relationships within them. In the summer of 1961 Marshall visited every city in the South with schools that were slated for desegregation that fall, speaking with state and local officials and community members to facilitate open dialogue. Marshall preferred to seek resolution through open discourse, a hallmark of his approach to easing racial tensions and encouraging voluntary integration.






A letter from James Meredith to the Justice Department requesting that the federal government step in to enforce integration in public education and protect the rights of all citizens, 7 February 1961.

[View the entire folder here.]





One of the major challenges that Marshall faced was the integration of the University of Mississippi. Marshall spent weeks traveling between Mississippi and Washington, D.C., working with state and local officials to ensure that James Meredith would be admitted peacefully to the school. Mississippi Governor Ross Barnett opposed Meredith’s admission, citing state laws. Despite numerous telephone calls with Marshall and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, Governor Barnett refused to uphold the Supreme Court ruling banning segregation in public schools. United States Marshals were sent to the University of Mississippi to maintain peace while the ruling was enforced, leading to a violent confrontation between students and those opposed to the admission of Meredith. Careful preparation and close vigilance by Marshall and RFK, as well as protective details provided by the U.S. Marshals, ensured Meredith’s successful enrollment in the University of Mississippi on October 1, 1962.

Listen to some of the telephone conversations among the President, Attorney General, Governor Barnett, and Burke Marshall here and here.





Transcript of a telephone conversation between Burke Marshall and Governor of Mississippi, Ross Barnett, regarding the admission of James Meredith to the University of Mississippi, 1 October 1962.

[View the entire folder, containing additional transcripts of conversations among the Governor, President Kennedy, and the Attorney General, here.]





Burke Marshall visited the southern states regularly, holding numerous meetings with various leaders including Governor Barnett, Governor George Wallace of Alabama,  as well as mayors, businessmen, and lawyers, to discuss potential solutions for easing racial tensions. The success of civil rights legislation and its implementation was influenced by the tenacious efforts of Marshall and his staff to open up channels of communication and to mediate sharp disagreements within communities. Additionally, Marshall used legal recourse when necessary to enforce civil rights legislation; he and his staff actively applied the rule of law to civil rights cases, a key strategy for enforcing voting rights.





Memorandum from Burke Marshall to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy regarding a letter from NAACP field secretary Medgar Evers about voting rights infringement cases in the South, 15 March 1961.

[View the entire folder here.]











Letter from Burke Marshall to Laura McCray, who was appointed a voting referee in Alabama to ensure fair and lawful registration for all voters, 10 May 1961.

[View the entire folder here.]









At that time, voting restrictions served as a major vehicle of oppression in the South. Literacy tests, poll taxes, and intimidation were mechanisms of discrimination used against African Americans, leaving them unable to exercise their right to vote. The resulting disenfranchisement meant that African Americans were unable to exert any political influence where they lived. To address this problem, Marshall and his team undertook a massive legal effort to guarantee voting rights. To that end, inspections of voting facilities, voting records, and test administrators were conducted in nearly 200 counties to ensure that voting regulations were administered fairly.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964, originally proposed by President John F. Kennedy in 1963, was the culmination of years of hard work undertaken by Burke Marshall, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, and countless others working for, with, and alongside the Department of Justice. Previous civil rights legislation, including the acts of 1957 and 1960, lacked adequate enforcement provisions and their defense relied heavily on the 14th Amendment. Marshall approached civil rights legislation from a different angle, invoking the federal government’s constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce.

As racial tensions grew, the necessity for legislation to protect civil rights activists and civilians and to permit federal intervention became apparent. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a source of heated debate, as many viewed it as a violation of states’ rights. Regardless, it was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on July 2, 1964 and was a crowning achievement for those committed to expanding and ensuring equal rights for all Americans. (You can read more about the Civil Rights Act of 1964 on our blog and on Tumblr.)

Burke Marshall’s contribution to the field of civil rights is enduring and his role as a consummate public servant was well-recognized. On Marshall’s letter of resignation as Assistant Attorney General, President Lyndon B. Johnson noted, “I have never known any person who rendered a better quality of public service.”

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Newly Processed Collection: Lawrence F. O’Brien Personal Papers Tue, 23 Sep 2014 15:18:16 +0000

Continue reading »]]> by Abigail Malangone, Processing Archivist

We are pleased to announce that the Lawrence F. O’Brien Personal Papers are open and available for research.

Lawrence “Larry” O’Brien, of Springfield, Massachusetts, was a member of the inner circle of Kennedy aides that came to be known as the “Irish Mafia.” O’Brien began his association with John F. Kennedy in the early 1950s; he worked on Kennedy’s 1952 and 1958 Senate campaigns and was named National Director of Organization for Kennedy’s 1960 presidential run. A widely admired figure for his organizing talent, his “O’Brien Manual” became a highly sought-after volume for anyone wanting to run a campaign and win an election.

O’Brien was named Special Assistant to the President for Congressional Relations and Personnel in 1961. He faced challenges from the outset, including a slender Democratic majority in Congress and a Rules Committee fight. However, he used his skills to build an office and a staff that would strengthen communication between the executive and legislative branches.






Congressional Quarterly “White House Lobby on the Hill.” Excerpt of an article on the O’Brien operation.

[View the entire folder here:]







Following President Kennedy’s assassination, O’Brien continued to serve as a special assistant during the Johnson Administration. He remained in that role even after being appointed Postmaster General—a position that made him a member of President Johnson’s Cabinet. O’Brien took over the reins of the Post Office Department at a critical juncture and began a course of examination and change that led to the modern-day United States Postal Service.

Larry O’Brien resigned from government service in 1968 to join Robert F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign; later, he directed Hubert Humphrey’s presidential run. After a brief hiatus from politics, O’Brien served as Chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and was charged with bringing back respectability, financial stability, and unity to the Democratic Party.







Excerpt from Chairman O’Brien’s 1972 convention speech.

[View the entire folder here:]







During his tenure as DNC Chairman, O’Brien was a target of the Watergate break-in and fought to have a Special Prosecutor appointed to investigate the event.






O’Brien’s letter to President Nixon following the Watergate break-in.

[View the entire folder here:]








O’Brien wrote about his life in politics in his 1974 book, No Final Victories. The book’s contents mimic those of O’Brien’s personal papers, both of which focus on O’Brien’s political life—from John F. Kennedy to Watergate. Researchers will learn not only about the man, but also about: campaign organization; legislative programs during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations; the Post Office Department’s operations; the workings of the DNC; and much more.



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La Biblioteca Kennedy Recuerda Cineasta Robert Drew Mon, 15 Sep 2014 17:36:38 +0000

Continue reading »]]> por Laurie Austin, Archivera de Referencias Audiovisuales
traducción por David Castillo, Interna en la Biblioteca Presidencial John F. Kennedy


(See English translation here.)

Estamos muy triste saber de la defunción del director de documentales Robert Drew el 30 de julio de 2014. Aunque Drew tenía una carrera larga y distinguida que excedía su connexión con John F. Kennedy, nos detenemos un momento para reconocer la importancia de sus documantales sobre Kennedy: Primary (1960), Adventures on the New Frontier (1961), y Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment (1963).

Al fin de los años cincuenta, Robert Drew desarrolló una nueva technología cinematográfica que cambiaría la producción del cine documental. Su innovación—una cámara portátil que grabó la acción en sincronización con el sonido—hizo possible mirar a los sucesos históricos de nueva manera, segun se iban desarollando. Aunque hoy día este método parece muy normal, en los años cincuenta, fue un avance grande para la technología del cine.

El documental Primary siguió los candidatos John F. Kennedy y Hubert Humphrey durante la elección primaria de Wisconsin en 1960. Era revolucionario con su calidad de inmediatez—un género conocido ahora como cinéma vérité. A continuación, Drew hizo un documental sobre la inauguración de Kennedy y los primeros meses en la Casa Blanca. Esta obra, Adventures on the New Frontier, ofreció una vista franca de las acciones del Presidente en el Despacho Oval.






Memorándum de Robert Drew al presidente-electo Kennedy sobre la logística de rodar la inauguración y transición del Presidente, 30 de diciembre de 1960.






Se puede encontrar la carpeta de documentos digitalizados en:



La inmediatez del cine de Drew llegó a su máxima extensión con Crisis, que trataba de la historia de la integración de la Universidad de Alabama desde las perspectivas de la Casa Blanca y los ciudadanos de Alabama. Al principio, se rechazaron las propuestas de Drew para rodar estos sucesos.







Primera solicitud de Robert Drew a la Casa Blanca sobre el rodaje de Crisis, 2 de mayo de 1963.






Se puede encontrar la carpeta de documentos digitalizados en:








Carta de Secretario de Prensa para la Casa Blanca, Pierre Salinger, a Robert Drew rechazando su propuesta para rodar las acciones del Presidente con respecto al crisis en la Universidad de Alabama, 20 de mayo de 1963.

Se puede encontrar la carpeta de documentos digitalizados en:






No podemos encontrar evidencia escrita que demuestra que el presidente Kennedy tuvo un cambio de opinión sobre el rodaje, pero evidentemente eso ocurrió. Crisis documenta conversaciones importantes y decisiones hechos por el presidente Kennedy durante uno de los conflictos nacionales más intensos de su presidencia.







Borrador del introducción por la Casa Blanca para su próximo documental Crisis, 10 de octubre de 1963.

Se puede encontratr mas narración y transcripsciones de varias partes de la película en:







Tenemos copias de los tres documentales de Robert Drew sobre John F. Kennedy y se puede pedir una cita con el Departamento de Referencias Audiovisuales para verlos. Por favor, manda un correo electrónico a para mas información.




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The Kennedy Library Remembers Filmmaker Robert Drew Thu, 04 Sep 2014 20:25:12 +0000

Continue reading »]]> by Laurie Austin, Audiovisual Reference Archivist


(Ver traducción española aquí.)

We were saddened to learn of the passing of documentary filmmaker Robert Drew on July 30, 2014. While Drew had a long and distinguished career that went beyond his connection with John F. Kennedy, we pause a moment to recognize the importance of his three Kennedy documentaries, Primary (1960), Adventures on the New Frontier (1961), and Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment (1963).

In the late 1950s Robert Drew developed new film technology that would change how documentary filmmaking was produced. His innovation—a handheld camera that filmed action in sync with the sound—made it possible to look in on historic events in a new way, as they were unfolding. While today this method seems like second nature, in the late 1950s it was a giant step forward in film technology.

Drew’s documentary Primary followed Democratic presidential candidates John F. Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey through the 1960 Wisconsin primary. It was groundbreaking in its “you-are-there” nature—a genre now known as cinéma vérité. Drew followed that film up with a documentary portraying President Kennedy’s inauguration and his first months in the White House; this work, Adventures on the New Frontier, candidly followed the President’s actions in the Oval Office.






Memo from Robert Drew to President-elect John F. Kennedy regarding the logistics of filming the President’s inauguration and transition, 30 December 1960. 






View the digitized folder of material here:



The “fly-on-the-wall” nature of Drew’s filmmaking was brought to full force in Crisis, which told the story of the integration of the University of Alabama from the perspectives of both the White House and the citizens of Alabama. Drew’s request to film this event was initially rejected.







Robert Drew’s initial inquiry to the White House about the filming of Crisis, 2 May 1963.






View the digitized folder of material here:








Letter from White House Press Secretary, Pierre Salinger, to Robert Drew, rejecting the proposal to film the President’s handling of the crisis at the University of Alabama, 20 May 1963.

View the digitized folder of material here:






We cannot find written evidence showing that President Kennedy changed his mind about the filming of this event, though clearly he did. Crisis captures important conversations and decisions made by President Kennedy during one of the most intense domestic disputes of his presidency.







White House draft opener for Robert Drew’s forthcoming documentary Crisis, 10 October 1963.

Additional narration and transcriptions of film segments can be found here:







We have copies of all three of Robert Drew’s documentaries on John F. Kennedy and anyone is welcome to make an appointment with the Audiovisual Reference Unit to view them on-site. Please email for more information.




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