Online database for JFK presidency

Submitted by Sammy Smith (sammy@thesga.org)

Perhaps the most elusive aspect of humans for archaeologists to get at is how people think.

JFK_online_collection_image_KN-C17175.jpg

This is where historical archaeologists can have an advantage over archaeologists researching the time before records.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917–1963) was the 35th President of the USA, and, without doubt, far more will be known about his life from archival information than from archaeological data.

In January 2011, his daughter Caroline announced that the most important papers, images, and other materials from JFK’s presidency have been digitized and are available online at the website of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum (search the online digital asset management system—DAMS—database by clicking here).

The digitization project is called Access to a Legacy, and, according to the Library and Museum website, it:

JFK_online_collection_image_KN-C17175_CU.pngis a public-private partnership between the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum and the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. The objectives are to digitize, index and retain permanently millions of presidential documents, photographs and audiovisual recordings; provide online accessibility to a worldwide audience; search collections using metadata; protect historical assets through remote replication; and minimize wear and tear on irreplaceable physical assets.

Lots of materials are now available, including over 35,000 photographs from the White House. Images delivered over the Internet are lower resolution than the original scans, so they can be delivered faster.

Illustrating this story is image JFKWHP-KN-C17175 from the collection, of President Kennedy carrying Caroline across the White House lawn on 10 February 1961, when she was about three-and-a-half years old. A targeted magnification display allows the viewer to see parts of the photograph at higher resolution.

As enticing as photographs are, the online materials include drafts of speeches, including his inaugural speech, and other records and images that illuminate how JFK thought.