Use the smaller-sized text Use the larger-sized text Use the very large text

Highlights Archives

Documenting the Kennedy Assassination

The front page of the November 22, 1963, edition of the La Crosse Tribune announcing the assassination of President John F. Kennedy

As one of the nation's largest American history research centers, the Wisconsin Historical Society collected everything it could about President Kennedy's assassination, which happened 50 years ago this week. Its library has more than 400 books and pamphlets on the event, ranging from the official hearings held by the Warren Commission to the earliest and most bizarre rejections of it. Its archives contains some of the most compelling eyewitness accounts sent from Dallas by journalists.

Unpublished Records

UPI reporter A. Merriman Smith was in the Kennedy motorcade that day and filed the first wire service bulletin that the president had been shot. He later gave the Society his personal papers, including research files on the assassination and the various conspiracy theories it spawned. Smith's papers also include his original teletype story recalling the assassination 10 months afterward, written when he read the first copy of the Warren Commission's report.

Other journalists whose unpublished papers at the Society describe the assassination include David Brinkley, Nick Kotz and Robert MacNeil.

Fragile Photographs

Blake Kellogg was news director at WKOW in Madison when Kennedy was shot. He was on the receiving end of Merriman's bulletin, as well as UPI's minute-by-minute "photo-fax" images sent around the world that day.

Kellogg recalled that these, "came out of the machine pre-printed on a paper somewhat akin to onion skin paper. Still pictures from the photo-fax would be taped onto a piece of cardboard and then shot with a live TV camera during the newscasts. That way the TV viewer would see a full screen 'still' photo of an image and the newscaster would read the caption."

These fragile images were meant to be temporary and usually thrown away, but during and after the assassination of President Kennedy, Kellogg saved all of the fax photos that streamed off the newswires into his studio. He donated these to the Society in 1994, and this week they have been put on the Society website (see the third link below).

View Documents

:: Posted November 20, 2013

  • Questions about this page? Email us
  • Email this page to a friend
select text size Use the smaller-sized textUse the larger-sized textUse the very large text