UNT Libraries makes Kennedy assassination materials available on Portal to Texas History

Monday, November 11, 2013 - 19:07

DENTON (UNT), Texas — During the hours and days that followed President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, Dallas Police Department officers gathered numerous eyewitness statements, fingerprints, affidavits, correspondence and homicide reports for not just Kennedy’s assassination, but also the murder of Officer J.D. Tippit the same day of the assassination, and the murder of alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby two days later.

People who vividly remember the events of 50 years ago, as well as younger generations, will soon be able to view these 11,406 pages of investigative materials on the University of North Texas Libraries’ Portal to Texas History.

The UNT Libraries’ Digital Project Unit received a $21,945 TexTreasures grant to digitize the materials, which are stored in the Dallas Municipal Archives. The grant was provided by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, which is partially funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

The project will also include the digitization of handwritten journals kept by three jurors during Jack Ruby’s 1964 trial, and a journal from the wife of one of the jurors. The journals are part of the collections of The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza.

The project will be announced Nov. 20 (Wednesday) at the public unveiling of “Code Three: Selections from the John F. Kennedy/Dallas Police Department Collection,” an exhibit of the Dallas Municipal Archives materials. “Code Three” will be on display through Dec. 2 (Monday) in the second floor lobby of Dallas City Hall. The unveiling will begin at 11:45 a.m. in the lobby.

Dr. Martin Halbert, dean of the UNT Libraries, said that because the libraries are a recognized global leader in digital preservation and access, “we’re uniquely suited to digitize and freely provide these collections online.”

“The eyes of the world will turn to Dallas during the commemoration of President Kennedy’s assassination, and people will be seeking information about the events that took place here 50 years ago,” Halbert said.

The Digital Projects Unit has been digitally preserving materials related to the Kennedy assassination for four years. In 2009, the UNT Libraries received a Rescuing Texas History grant from the Summerlee Foundation to place 404 Dallas Police Department photographs on the Portal to Texas History.. The photos have been viewed more than 125,000 times.

In addition, staff members from the UNT Libraries and The Sixth Floor Museum are working together to place approximately 75 newspaper photos from the museum’s collections on the portal. The photos, from the now-defunct Dallas Times Herald, capture everything from police officers at the Texas School Book Depository to Kennedy’s casket leaving Parkland Hospital and Dallas residents mourning outside the hospital.

Nicola Longford, executive director of The Sixth Floor Museum, said the museum staff “is pleased to partner with the Portal to Texas History to make these images and documents available to a broad audience.”

“Many of our visitors know about the collections we offer on our website, jfk.org. This collaboration with the portal will help us reach new audiences,” she said.

Dreanna Belden, the UNT Libraries’ assistant dean for external relations, said portal users “may search the full text of the materials and also locate the materials through Google or other Internet search engines and connect directly to the page on which their search term appears.”

John Slate, city archivist for the Dallas Municipal Archives, said the archives staff  is delighted to partner again with UNT to make the investigation documents available and “to preserve the originals and to promote the use of primary source materials in research.” “This collection has finally reached an unparalleled level of access,” Slate said. 


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