tv American Artifacts CSPAN September 28, 2014 6:00pm-6:31pm EDT
and down the east coast working, sending money home, and still looking for where my going to go and up by chance coming to st. paul, and decide this is my land of opportunity? it is intriguing. how did that happen? he was probably brilliant. he was certainly farsighted and he took advantage of opportunities. i think he hooked up with really good strong intelligent men. i think he chose widely in -- wisely in the partners that he involved himself with all through his life from the beginning to the end. >> find out where c-span's local
content vehicles are going next locale at c-span.org/ contact. you're watching american history tv all weekend, every weekend on c-span 3. week american history tv's american artifacts visits museums and historic places. next, we visit the national archives in college park, maryland, to learn about the kennedy assassination records collection. the warren report was released to the public 50 years ago on september 27, 1964. we will see video recorded by the national archives of many of the well-known artifacts of the investigation including lee harvey oswald's rifle, the so-called magic bullet, and the originals of the zapruder film. is martha wagner murphy.
>> the collection was created because of the act of 1992. since the time of the assassination, there have been numerous official investigations starting with the warren commission. the church committee looked into it. in the early 1990's, there was a movie that came out by oliver stone. at the end of the movie, he made a point of saying that all the records have been open and available. >> mr. chairman, members of the subcommittee, my name is oliver stone. i assure you it is with pleasure and with some pride i appear before the subcommittee today to urge the passage of house joint resolution 454 to provide for the expeditious disclosure of records relevant to the assassination of president john
f. kennedy. >> the purpose of the act was to make sure all of the records considered assassination related work collected and opened as soon as possible. you can search on an item level of records in the collection. if you see something you would like to see, you can come here, ask to see it during our business hours. the box will be pulled and made available in our research room at the national archives in college park. >> there are various finding aids. the national archive has created a database of the items that were released after 1992 in response to the act, which
actually, the database entries were created by the agencies that were holding the record. the national archives created the database itself. then all of that data was transferred here and we made that available to the public. you can search on an item level the records that are in the collection. if you see something you would like to see, you can come here, ask to see it on our business hours, the box will be pulled and made available in our research room at the national archives in college park. here we have three items you requested. unlike the physical artifacts, we were able to accommodate you and make it available to you because these are basically textual documents. they are not physical artifacts of the collection. this is a custom-made container
made by our conservation staff. this was a bus transfer found in the pocket of lee harvey oswald after he was arrested. and was attained by the dallas police and became a commission exhibit of the worn commission -- warren commission. the second item you requested is lee harvey oswald's address bo oik. k. this is a custom-made container made by our conservation staff. this is acid-free. this is mylar. it has a handy lift so you can get it out without having to pull on it. it is the commission exhibit 18. it has all of his handwritten items including the map, addresses, and telephone numbers, as you would expect.
of final item is a map mexico city. to mexicoe a trip city prior to the assassination, and brought this map home. this was acquired by dallas police and the fbi and eventually the warren commission as well. this side of the map offers a smaller map with tourist spots which are identified on the side. as you can tell, certain things were circled. it was like that when we received it. obvious way, we were not at anything like that. the back side is a larger map. again, with several items circled. i had found in secondary sources people have written that some of the items circled -- and i seem on the side -- were actually the embassies of cuba and the ussr,
but i have not found the primary probablytion that is in the records that would document specifically what is circled on here. of course, the context for these are documented well in the warren commission report. in order for something to become an exhibit, it would have been discussed in one of the testimonies taken by the warren commission or referenced in the warren report. later, other still classified items and how does the declassification process work? >> that was taken care of any act itself. the assassination records review board had a unique power. they had the capability of overruling the agencies, even on classification. the only appeal the agencies had was to the president of the united states. inele the board was business, they made a final determination on the records. rd review these
records, we found little reason to continue to protect these records. many of them we found should not have been protected during the 1960's. we do have to remember the era in which this occurred, an era in which national security concerns were heightened. >> however, there were a few, there are still some that remain classified in part or in full. act, it saysead the that 25 years after the passing of the act, all of the materials must be made available. that will be october, 2017. we are gearing up the process to get the material processed and ready for release. >> what particular challenges does this collection percent to the archives -- does this collection present that other archives may not? >> we have a lot of physical artifacts. by artifacts, i mean physical
paper. we have the contents of the boarding room of where oswald was living and things like his flip-flops. it is fairly unusual. the national archives does have other artifacts, but we are mostly a paper agency. because of the huge interest in this, we have numerous people that want to have access to these materials. there is always tension between conservation and access. that has been our biggest challenge. we have addressed that by trying to provide as much access as we can with still pictures and film of the most popular artifacts in the collection so people can see them and have the research questions answered without actually looking at the physical artifacts. every time we have to make an actual item available, we are risking a bit of the conservation of the item.
that is why for the press, we have provided video of the artifacts themselves which we did prior to the 50th anniversary. here we are in one of our conservation labs. with one of our conservators. she is going to show us, which is at the exhibit b1, which is itsld's wallet, including contents. i'm going to answer a question a lot of people have, which is what is the stsaiain on portions of the items? prints from the finger chemical that was used by the fbi to try to obtain think prince. thed up straining artifact. some people think it looks like blood. it is not. this would've been in his possession when he was arrested but not in his possession when he was shot.
here she's laying out some of the items that were found which we have encapsulated in mylar. and some of the items in the wallet were things like a social security card, his selective service notice, a service i.d., because of course he was in the marine corps at one time. cuba fair play for committee identification card, that was an organization he belonged to. let's see what else is interesting in here. other kinds of id's, a public library card. and so, all of these are just the contents of a wallet, just like you would have in your own wallet, whatever you have right now. this is something we would not normally make available, the researchers, that is why we have filmed it. walletbecause of the itself even more than the content. they agency also some photographs that the woman in
the picture is his wife marina. there you can see his marine corps photograph as well. so, the next exhibit that our conservator is showing you here is fbi exhibit k-51, which was the camera used by mr. zapruder to take a very famous film of the assassination was probably most people have seen. it's in a case. it, which you to can see. she's putting gloves on. we generally do not use glo ves with paper. but with the artifacts. it is common practice to wear gloves. we retain the case that we do not store the camera in a case. what you can see is the acid-free boxer camera is stored in. and the material that is inside the box to protect it as well.
here's, you will see that says on this label on the outside of the box, a common means we have of identifying the item so that we can keep control , thatm, you'll see rg 272 refers to the record group for the records of the warren commission. our records are arranged at the national archives by group, which is the organization. so these records are just like all of the others. we maintain them in the same manner. so the next item is the t-shirt wearing when he was shot. again, it is part of the warren commission records. the fbi collected at first, and that it was transferred onto the warren commission and then eventually to the national archives. i will say we have had the records of the warren commission well before the passing of the jfk cat. tact.
those records have been open and available at the national archives for many years. so we have had these artifacts for a very long time as well. on some sometimes see of these artifacts that there are initials. those initials were used as a means of documenting the trans er of custody from one organization to another, dallas r betweento the fibbi, o individuals within the fbi. these artifacts, you could find textual documentation and are files that would tell you more about the significance of the artifacts you are seeing here. again, this is the black sweater wearing when he was shot. our conservators have put -- these in acid-free boxes with tissues.
any labeling that would've been on the materials when they came to us, we have preserved every artifact of the artifacts. these are all original labels. the national archives would not have put the labels on here. finally, this is the shirt he waswas wearing when shot. he was shot when he was in the custody of the dallas police, being moved from one place to another. and it was being filmed. so it was unusual. there was a lot of press available. the conservators at the national archives have experienced -- have experience in what we need them to. if necessary, they will reach out to an expert. they have all been trained to deal with multiple types of materials. this item is commission exhibit 126. a blue bag that was found i n oswald's effects. it was picked up at his
residence on north beckley street by dallas police officers. and so this was a tag that was a fixed by them. >> so it says, charge murder there. >> right. the time that kennedy was assassinated, it was not a federal crime to kill the president. trial, he gone on would've gone on trial for murder in texas. so the dallas police were investigating that. have --oes the archive had to work with the dallas police? >> no. all of these items were transferred to the fbi and then to the warren commission and finally came to the national archives. but it was within the custody of the u.s. federal government private transfer. of course, national archives has records of the u.s. federal government. we would not have the records of the dallas police had they not transferred into that custody. famous rifle
which oswald used to assassinate the president. you can see the custom box created by the conservation staff. it has its own commission exhibit number, 139. we consider it part of the records of the warren commission. they were the organization who had custody last prior to transfer. >> from your perspective, all this effort put into preserving this was the blanket that was found in the house of ruth payenne. ruth payne was the woman with whom oswald's wife and daughter were staying at the time, and stored some of his effects in their garage. and so, it is believed that he actually had wrapped the
rifle in this blanket. it was found after the assassination. so next we're going to look at oswald's revolver. so, after the president was assassinated, there was also a police officer who was killed. and he was killed by oswald using this revolver. and the interesting thing that i think a lot of people do not know is that oswald was initially arrested for the noter of officer tibbits, for the assassination of president kennedy. it was only when he was in police custody that they put together that they were looking for someone who was missing from the texas school book depository whose name was lee harvey oswald, and we already have in custody because they had him in custody for the killing of tibbit. so, this revolver is significant for several reasons. and this is the shirt he was
wearing when he was arrested. here you'll seeour conservator handling it very carefully. spend a littleto time and try to put it up on the form. one of the interesting things fbit the shirt is that the was able to find a piece of the fabric from the shirt attached to the rifle itself. the rifle was found at the texas school book depository. it is another piece of evidence he used to connect oswald to t assassination. there you can see some initials put on the shirt itself. and everything i am telling you now, i just nkow because of working with the records. anyone could come in, read the warren commission report, and everything i'm saying is in it. they can look at the original
fbi files. lablab files of the technicians and scientists who worked at the fbi. the ballistic testing and five for testing. those records are all part of the collection. and some could look through them. but even when you said earlier, that is the rifle that oswald used, there are people listening to this that would say, that is not true. >> what i am saying actually is the opinion of the warren commission. i should state that i have no opinion one way or another on this. but that is how it is identified in our records. and so athat is how i will identify it. this is a gray zipper jacket. and the interesting thing, this also ties oswald to the murder warrenit because the commission, according to the
warren commission, this jacetke t found near where tibbet was killed. near where they saw oswald takinen after the killing of tibbet. marina, oswald's wife, verified that this jacket was oswald's. warrenread the commission report, they will give their opinion on this, that it does tie him to the killing of tibbet. so, this is probably one of the more famous bullets in existence. it sometimes referred toi as the magic bullets. i refer to as commission exhibit 399, because that is the number that was assigned to it. it was found on oswald's stretcher. it is believed by the warren commission that this is the bullet that first hit president
kennedy, exited through his neck, and hit governor connally sitting in front of the president. after going through his arm it was lodged into his thigh and fell off while he was on a stretcher. one thing to let people know is that we have very high quality, high resolution images of most of these artifacts. this one in particular available ww.archives.gov, through our online public act ion archive. i want to get as many views as possible because people have questions about every aspect of this bullet. >> and that container, is that a special container? >> it is a container that we created ourselves in order to have it in a container where you can see it, but it has foam on
the bottom, so it can be in there without rattling around, that he could turn it and view it from different angles. so it is just a way of conserving it by trying to keep it so that if we needed to pull seeit. yout, you could we had special housings made by the conservatives for our various bullet fragments that are associated with this. the limousine was back in washington, it was gone over very carefully and there were bullet fragments found in the limousine. so that is what you're going to see here. very small bullet fragments. there is the commission exhibit number, 840. and then this is a larger fragment that was also found. number. separate
there were cardboard boxes found on the sixth floor of the texas school book depository where the warren commission believes the shots were fired. and those boxes are retained by the national archives and are in our stacks. boxes put into boxes. as you can see there. yet agian, here is another fragment of bullet that was found from the limousine. commission exhibit 567. are slideshave here of testing that was done during the time of the assassination records review board. it was determined that there was a fragment of something that was on the bullet that was not part of the bullet. there were some question about whether or not it was textile. this would've been significant because this is the bullet that was believed to have hit the president in the head. not the bullet that went to his neck. and so testing was done.
the national archives brought in agencies --erent fbi, armed forces institute of pathology -- to examine it and ast it and make determination. it was determined it was not textile. it was actually some sort of hu man tissue of some type. and so the next question was, could we determine any dna from this? and that's why we have these slides. it was determined that there was no way to get any kind of dna. there is a report on this which is available on our website. we basically that was why had retained the slides because we would not dispose of anything. so this is ekpkept in the same physical container as the bullet for which it was derived. here are four cartridge shells
found at the scenes of the tibbet murder. theseey were able to tie back to that revolver we saw earlier. you can see the box we have. we have a plcace in the box for any textual documentation. and then of course the items themselves. we also retain any previous housing, anything that it was in before, just because we want to be extremely diligent in making sure we do not lose any of the documentation related to these artifacts. these were cartridges found on oswald's custody at arrest. pants in the front pocket of lee harvey oswald, found by the dallas police. and again, more cartridge cases, but these are found at the texas schoolbook depository and are for the rifle.
finally, this is a camera that was used to take a photograph which is referred to as the backyard photo, because it was a photograph of oswald in his backyard taken by his wife with this camera. yet another artifact among the collection. in that he's holding a rifle. in his other hand, he has pamphlets, political pamphlets. a pretty famous photograph. an inspection that was done of the original 8 mm zapruder film. so the zapruder film has been in our custody for a number of years, but during the time of the assassinated records review board, there was an official government taking of it. were the zapruders provided with the payment for the value of it. and so now it is officially part
of the custody of the national archives, the original. now, the copyright is retained. and i believe that the zapruder family has given the copyright flooro the texas sixth the same which is in the old texas schoolbook depository. if someone were to come here, they could look at it. if you were to choose to duplicate it, you would need to get the copyright. the permission. if you were to come in to see it, you would be watching a duplicate of the original, which is true for any of our films, because he wanted make sure they are preserved when you come to look at films at the national archives -- you're looking at a copy. we have motion picture sound and video branch within the national archives, which of course, is the portion of our agency that
takes care of all motion pictures and sound recordings. they have this item. you can see some of the images, which probably look familiar to people. i believe the zapruder film is also available through commercial outlets as well. >> the original artifact itself, how would that be stored and how often does anybody do what she's doing? >> very rarely. this was done for a special effort. film, it is my understanding that this is stored in cold storage because that will help to retain the preservation of the color. in a lot of ways we treat the film as an artifact where we are trying to conserve it. so it si in cold storage -- it is in cold storage. >> from your perspective, all
this effort put into preserving things, why is that important? >> that is our mission at the national archives. our job is to make sure the history of the u.s. government is preserved for all time. there is only a small percentage of records, 2% or 3% considered important enough to come to the national archives. if it is important enough to come here, we need to preserve it for all time. we work with our conservators. we work with researchers. we are trying to digitize our records to make them available on the web so anyone anywhere can have access to the records of the national archives. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] >> coming up next on american history tv, a conversation about the book "the classical liberal constitution: the uncertain quest for limited government." featured is the book's