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:
- a statement by Director Murrow on the offer by Prime Minister Fidel Castro of Cuba to exchange prisoners for tractors (USIAAU-022), in which Murrow reports on reactions to the offer in the United States and around the world; and
- statements by Director Murrow concerning the resumption of U.S. nuclear testing (USIAAU-012), in which Murrow discusses the Soviet Union’s responsibility for breaking a moratorium on nuclear testing, the reluctance of the United States to resume testing, worldwide reaction, and the commitment of the U.S. government to achieve a complete ban on nuclear testing.
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: JFK.AVarchives@nara.gov.
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.