(Digital Collections) More Than the Sum of Its Parts: The JFK – Other Materials Collection

As we approach the 50th commemoration of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, we will be highlighting a number of JFK-related collections here on the Digital Collections blog. The William R. “Bob” Poage Legislative Library has become a hub for materials related to the assassination and its fallout, and we look forward to exposing those collections to a wider audience via the blog, our Facebook page and other promotional avenues. Read part one of the series here and part two here.

 The impact of the Kennedy assassination can be measured in any number of ways, from changes in government policy to the stain it left on the reputation of Dallas, Texas. Accompanying these shifts in the cultural landscape were reams of documentation and artifacts that were preserved in quantities too small to justify the creation of entire digital collections but no less important for being less in number. For materials like these, we created a “JFK – Other Materials” collection.

“The Truth Letter” – Typewritten, Equal Opportunity Printer of News

Among the more interesting items in this collection are the “Truth Letter” newsletters. Published by Joachim Joesten between 1968-1971, the “Truth Letter” billed itself as “An Antidote to Official Mendacity and Newsfaking in the Press,” as well as a purveyor of “All the News That’s UNFIT to Print.” These typewritten, single-spaced publications were a platform for Joesten’s personal theories, responses to other publications and overall discourses on the subject of Kennedy’s assassination.

“Truth Letter” Vol. I, no. 14 – April 1, 1969

Representations of the “Mainstream” Media

There are several examples of materials drawn from the more prominent outlets of the media included in this collection. Two of particular note at the teletype transcripts of the assassination’s coverage, one from UPI and the other from the AP. These fragile artifacts were the forerunner to Twitter-style updates on a breaking news situation: short, declarative statements with “time stamps” provided a continuous stream of information for reporters across the country.

Excerpt from UPI teletype, November 22, 1963

Newspaper articles make an appearance in the collection via a notebook containing dozens of clipped and pasted articles that form a notebook donated by Robert Cutler. These annotated clippings document mainstream media coverage of the fallout from the assassination, as well as related events like the assassinations of Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.

In addition to these materials, the JFK – Other Materials collection provides several one-off items related to the life and legacy of John F. Kennedy that did not fit easily into an existing collection, so we encourage you to explore them as you dive deeper into the multifaceted story of November 22, 1963.

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We will continue to highlight additional JFK-related collections throughout October and November as we participate in the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination. If you have any questions, please email us at digitalcollectionsinfo@baylor.edu or visit the Poage Legislative Library’s JFK Materials Website for more information.

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