Allen Dulles and the Warren Commission

The 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s death on Friday, November 22, has brought renewed attention to the Warren Commission and its conclusions on the assassination.  Then-retired CIA Director Allen Dulles served on the commission and the Mudd Manuscript

Warren Commission; F.B.I Investigation Report: Visual Aids, circa 1964: http://findingaids.princeton.edu/collections/MC019/c01586

Warren Commission; F.B.I Investigation Report: Visual Aids, circa 1964: http://findingaids.princeton.edu/collections/MC019/c01586

Library recently digitized five boxes of Dulles’ personal files documenting his work on the commission as part of our NHPRC funded large-scale digitization project.  Images and downloadable PDFs of every folder related to Dulles’ Warren Commission work are available by clicking on any of the folder titles from the Warren Commission section of our finding aid for the Allen Dulles Papers.

 

The Warren Commission material includes correspondence, memoranda, reports, preliminary drafts of the final Commission report, clippings, articles and interviews relating to Dulles’ service on the Warren Commission. The correspondence includes incoming and outgoing notes and letters, articles and clippings. Correspondents range from members of the Commission to citizens offering their own analysis of the assassination.

The administrative material documents the official activities of the Commission. Included are minutes, agendas, financial information and memoranda, which demonstrate how the Commission was organized and its guidelines for procedures. Also included are intra-Commission memoranda as well as memoranda with other governmental organizations, including the F.B.I. and Secret Service. The findings of these two agencies, plus the Dallas police, were submitted to the Commission, and much of this material documents the life of Lee Harvey Oswald.

First page of Psychiatric Report on L.H. Oswald, 1964: http://findingaids.princeton.edu/collections/MC019/c01581

First page of Psychiatric Report on L.H. Oswald, 1964: http://findingaids.princeton.edu/collections/MC019/c01581

Over 64 boxes, and 96,900 pages of documents, from the Dulles Papers were digitized as part the NHPRC project.  In addition to the Warren Commission files, Dulles’ correspondence is now available online.  The correspondence includes letters to and from Kennedy and his brothers Robert and Edward as well as material related to Kennedy created after the assassination.

Kennan on Kennedy: “Dismal Foreboding for the Future of this Country”

George Kennan, like so many others, remembered exactly where he was and what he did upon hearing the news of John F. Kennedy’s death:

“I had been at a luncheon when I heard he had been shot, but on returning to the office shortly afterward I received confirmation of his death.  My reaction, in addition to the obvious shock, was one of the most dismal foreboding for the future of this country.  The first person I went to, to talk about it, was Robert Oppenheimer, and we both had the impression that this event marked in many ways a deterioration of the entire situation in this country.”

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George Kennan on Kennedy Assassination, November 1968

 

Kennan, most noted for his influence on U.S. policy towards the Soviet Union during the Cold War and advocacy of a policy of containment, served as Kennedy’s ambassador to Yugoslavia from 1961 to July 1963.  Kennan’s correspondence with Kennedy dates from 1959 and includes an 8 page letter of foreign policy advice written to during the 1960 presidential campaign.

On October 22, 1963, exactly one month before Kennedy’s death, Kennan sent a handwritten note of encouragement to Kennedy, writing “I don’t think we have seen a better standard of statesmanship in White House in the present century.” Kennan also wrote that he hoped Kennedy would be discouraged “neither by the appalling pressures of your office nor by the obtuseness and obstruction you encounter in another branch of government,” and expressed gratitude to Kennedy “for the courage and patience and perception for which you carry on.”

 

Typescript of George Kennan's handwritten note to John F. Kennedy, October 22, 1963

Typescript of George Kennan’s handwritten note to John F. Kennedy, October 22, 1963

Kennedy responded a few days later, on October 28th saying he would keep the letter nearby “for reference and reinforcement on hard days.”  Kennedy died in Dallas only 26 days later.

John F. Kennedy letter to George Kennan, October 28, 1963

John F. Kennedy letter to George Kennan, October 28, 1963

The Kennedy-Kennan correspondence consists of 79 pages, a small percentage of the  72,545 pages of Kennan’s papers digitized as part of our NHPRC-funded digitization grant.  All of the digitized documents, including Kennan’s permanent correspondence files and unpublished writings can be accessed by clicking on the folder titles listed in the finding aid.

Our NHPRC-Funded Digitization Project at Six Months

Late last year, the Mudd Manuscript Library was granted an award by the National
Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) to digitize our most-used Public Policy collections, serve them online, and create a report for the larger archival community about cost-efficient digitization practices. Excerpts from our six-month progress report is below.

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Work so far

  1. Project planning

From the time we were awarded the grant to the present, we have produced an overall project plan and timeline, a vendor RFQ and plan of work, in-house quality control procedures for vendor-supplied images, a workplan for in-house scanning, and hardware-specific instructions for in-house scanning. All activities are either on schedule or ahead of schedule. Vendor-supplied digitization is currently eight months ahead of schedule.

  1. Finding a vendor

After distributing an RFQ and collecting bids, we decided on The Crowley Company as our vendor, based on both price and our confidence that they would be able to manage the materials and the work carefully and efficiently.

  1. Managing vendor-supplied digitization

Before materials can go out to the vendor, we first create a manifest of everything we want to send by transforming the EAD-encoded finding aid into an easily-read Excel worksheet. Since we want each folder of material to have a cover sheet that explains the collection name, box number, folder number, URL, and copyright policy, we used collection manifests to make target sheets with this information. A total of 6,943 target sheets were created, printed, and inserted into the beginnings of folders by student workers before materials were sent out to the vendor.

Once materials have been imaged by the vendor, students sample ten percent of the collection to check for completeness and readability. So far, everything has passed quality control with flying colors.

Each month, Crowley sends us a report of how many images have been created that month, how many images have been created cumulatively, and average scanning rate per hour. This information is below:

Boxes Scanned

Pages Scanned

2013 March

15

17119

2013 April

32

45761

2013 May

50

49499

2013 June

65

97896

Totals

162

210275

  1. In-house imaging

Imaging of the John Foster Dulles papers started in June. So far, we have completed a pilot of scanning with the sheet-feed of the photocopier, and pilots of microfilm scanning and scanning with a Zeutschel face-up scanner are underway.

Project goals and deliverables

  1. Twelve series or subseries from six collections digitized

To date, five series or subseries have been completely digitized, and three others are in the process of being digitized.

  1. Approximately 416,000 images created and posted online

As of July 1, 2013, 210,275 images have been scanned by the vendor. Of this total, 39,834 images have been posted online. Our vendor is several months ahead of schedule for this project, and in-house scanning is on track. Since beginning in-house scanning in June, 1,838 pages have been scanned by student workers. In the next months, we will calculate the per-page costs for scanning on a Zeutschel face-up scanner and with a microfilm scanner. From there, we plan to image fifty feet of materials with the sheet feeder of the photocopier, 10.3 feet with the Zeutschel face-up scanner, and 33.4 feet with the microfilm scanner.

  1. Six EAD finding aids updated to include links for 17,508 components (folders)

Two finding aids (Council on Foreign Relations Records and Adlai Stevenson Papers) have been updated to include links to digitized content. Another (George F. Kennan Papers) is ready to be updated. This process is managed semi-automatically with a series of shell scripts. After quality control hard drives of images are sent to Princeton’s digital studios. Staff there verify and copy digital assets to permanent storage. After this, PDF and JPEG2000 files are derived from the master TIFFs, and the relationship between these objects is described in an automatically generated METS file. The digital archival object (<dao>) tag is added to the EAD-encoded finding aid for each component.

  1. Digital imaging cost of less than 80 cents per page achieved

The plan of work with our vendor calls for scanning costs well below the 80 cents per page. Our first (and likely least expensive) of three in-house scanning pilots estimates the costs of scanning with the sheet feeder of a copier to be two cents per page. We will have numbers for microfilm scanning and scanning with a face-up scanner at the time of our next report.

  1. Metrics for digital imaging of 20th century archival collections for

    1. In-house microfilm conversion

    2. Sheet feeding through a networked photocopier

    3. Vendor supplied images

The information that we have collected thus far is below. Our vendor metrics are based on the quote and plan of work with The Crowley Company. Sheet feed metrics are collected by having a student worker fill out a minimal, time-stamped form at the beginning and end of each scan, and then analyzing that information. These numbers are preliminary. Sheet-fed scans have not yet been checked for quality control — re-scans may increase the total time per page and dollars per page for this method.

Vendor

Sheet Feed

Microfilm

Zeutschel

Total pages:

270,600*

1838

Total feet:

530.95

1.68

Total time:

2:25:14

Total time (decimal):

2.42

Time per page:

0:00:04

Pages per hour:

270.75

759.33

Hours per foot:

1:26:26

Feet per hour

0.69

Cost per page:

TBD

$0.02

*This number is an estimate, based on an assumed 1200 pages per box. Our reports from Crowley show anywhere from 1050-1750 pages in a box.

Note: in addition to these three methods, we plan to add a fourth – scanning with a face-up scanner (in our case, a Zeutschel scanner table).

  1. Policies and documentation for large-scale digitization initiative created and shared with archival community

As we go forward with our project, we have been blogging not just about the content of our digitized collections, but also our methods and rationales. A blog post written in February explains how this project fits into our other digitization activities and our approach to access. In early June, we wrote about the reasons why this kind of project is so important, and how our materials will now reach researchers worldwide (and of all ages) who might otherwise never come to our reading room in Princeton, New Jersey.

A more formal report on our methods and results will be made available once more data has been gathered.

Records of Adlai Stevenson, Ambassador to the United Nations, Now Available to View Online

In October 1962, at the height of the Cuban missile crisis, Adlai Stevenson spoke the most famous line of his career. The former Illinois governor and two-time presidential candidate was the United States’ ambassador to the United Nations.

After a series of provocative political moves and a failed US attempt to overthrow the Cuban regime,  Nikita Khrushchev proposed the idea of placing Soviet nuclear missiles on Cuba to deter any future invasion attempt in May 1962. By October 14, American spy planes captured images showing sites for medium-range and intermediate-range ballistic nuclear missiles under construction in Cuba.

Tensions mounted quickly. Concurrent with other negotiations, the United States requested an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council on October 25. There, Adlai Stevenson confronted Soviet Ambassador Valerian Zorin, challenging him to admit the existence of the missiles. Ambassador Zorin refused to answer.

“Do you, Ambassador Zorin, deny that the U.S.S.R. has placed and is placing medium- and intermediate-range missiles and sites in Cuba? Don’t wait for the translation! Yes or no?”

“I am not in an American courtroom, sir,” Zorin responded, “and therefore I do not wish to answer a question put to me in the manner in which a prosecutor does–”

“You are in the courtroom of world opinion right now,” Stevenson interrupted, “and you can answer yes or no. You have denied that they exist, and I want to know whether I have understood you correctly.”

“You will have your answer in due course,” Zorin replied. “I am prepared to wait for my answer until hell freezes over, if that’s your decision,” countered Stevenson. “And I am also prepared to present the evidence in this room.”

The Mudd Manuscript Library holds the papers of Adlai Stevenson, and as part of our NHPRC-funded project, we have digitized records relating to his tenure as United States Ambassador to the United Nations. Here, especially in his section on Cuba, we get more of the story behind the story — notes, memoranda and letters of congratulations after this memorable speech, and records from 1963-1965, after the crisis and when the cold war was icier than ever.

Patrons can view thumbnails of a file to get a sense of what’s available

Browsing Adlai Stevenson correspondence

Scroll through to see all 164 images.

Simply click on any of the thumbnail images to see a larger view.

The entire file is also available for download in PDF form.

Clicking on this button will download a pdf of the entire file.

Clicking on this button will download a pdf of the entire file.

We hope that researchers everywhere will be able to make use of these newly-available materials. As always, please contact the Mudd Library with questions about any of our collections.

Archives for Everyone

In each of the last two springs, several staff of the Mudd Manuscript Library and other members of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections have judged at the regional qualifier of the National History Day competition held on Princeton’s campus. This is a contest for middle and high school students who, based on rigorous guidelines, synthesize and analyze information about a historic event. They then create a paper, website, documentary, exhibit or performance explaining what they have learned.

Judging National History Day is a powerful touchstone about the value of archives in the production of history. Each year, I see students adroitly avoid some of the more common traps of historical production — their projects are clear, level-headed, open-minded, and support their claims with evidence. Students who submit the best projects don’t just have a clear argument and lengthy bibliography — they let the primary sources surprise them and challenge their previous conceptions of the past. Yes, they may start with textbooks and biographies, but stronger projects evaluate primary sources. And the very best projects tend to not just look at key documents that have been artificially assembled on a website (although this is valuable too) — they look at records in context and try to make arguments about subtext and authenticity.

The best place to find records in context is usually an archives. But of course, access to archives isn’t easy for students. Working parents may not be able to take their children to the New Jersey Historical Society or National Archives or Mudd Library, as much as they might like to provide that experience. Most archives are only open during the hours when parents are working and visiting these institutions can be intimidating. From a young student’s perspective, it’s often hard to tell what the holdings are and whether the trip will be worth it.

Our NHPRC-funded project hopes to be a model toward ameliorating this barrier to access. We believe that by scanning our records and making them available within the same context that one would see them in the reading room, anyone with an internet connection can have a meaningful scholarly experience without the cost and inconvenience of traveling to Princeton, New Jersey.

We hope that children will benefit as much as anyone from this project. As Cathy Gorn, the Executive Director of National History Day, noted in her letter of support for the grant:

Having primary source materials on the Cold War available via the Internet would allow many NHD students around the country to conduct research for their projects that they ordinarily would not be able to, and the Mudd collections to be digitized are broad enough to support a variety of NHD Projects.

Of course, students don’t just wish to access historical records for National History Day — they want access for the same reasons that any other researcher does. A teenager may want to know more about when and how his family came to America. He might want to know more about the history of his town, and how certain sites came to be created. Or he may be interested in the history of ideas, policies and customs that affect his life. The collections that we plan to digitize — the John Foster Dulles papers, the Allen Dulles papers, the James Forrestal papers, the Council on Foreign Relations records, the George Kennan papers and the Adlai Stevenson papers — document how cold war activities were conducted and understood. They also present an opportunity for students to understand through diaries and correspondence the false starts, misunderstandings, and possible alternatives that constitute all historical events.

The historian John Lewis Gaddis makes the argument for access more persuasively than I could. In his letter of support for our grant, he explained the cost, inconvenience and wear on records for professional researchers trying to do research on-site.

But the most fundamental shortcoming of this old system was the disservice it did to students of history who never got to see an archive in the first place. Maybe they lived abroad. Maybe they attended American universities or colleges that could not provide research support. Maybe they were high school or even elementary students who might have gotten hooked on history for life had they had the chance to work with original materials – but they didn’t have that chance.

Now, however, almost all of them have access to a new means of access, which is of course the internet- even if they’re stuck in a place like Cotulla, Texas, where I grew up. I mention this little town because it’s where the young Lyndon B. Johnson spent a year teaching, in 1928-29, in the then segregated Mexican-American school. What he tried to do for those kids is still remembered: it gets its own chapter in the first volume of Robert Caro’s massive biography. But just think what LBJ could have done as a teacher had he had the resources that are available now. That’s why this project is important.

It has the potential, quite literally, to globalize the possibility of doing archival research. That’s no guarantee that this will produce a greater number of great books than in the past. What it will ensure, however, is a quantum leap in the opportunities students and their teachers will have to bring the excitement of working with original documents into all classrooms. That’s easily as important, I think, as writing the kind of books that might get you tenure at a place like Yale.

Digitization and the Council on Foreign Relations

In March our vendor began scanning the first batch of material to be digitized as part of our grant.  We’ve sent 15 boxes (and over 15,000 pages) of the Council on Foreign Relations Records to be scanned.  The material will be returning to Mudd in April and all 15,000+ images should be available to anyone with an internet connection later in the Spring.

The Harold Pratt House, Council of Foreign Relations headquarters, New York City.

The Harold Pratt House, Council of Foreign Relations headquarters, New York City.

As students and scholars of the Cold War know, the Council is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization dedicated to promoting improved understanding of international affairs and to contributing ideas to United States foreign policy.  The Council records document the work of people prominent in diplomacy, government, and business who come together to study pressing issues in foreign policy.  At the time we wrote the grant the Council on Foreign Relations Records as a whole were the fourth most requested collection within Mudd’s Public Policy Papers; researchers requested and viewed more than 1500 boxes of material from 2008-2011, with many more asking questions or requesting copies from around the world.

The fifteen boxes that we are digitizing document the Council’s Studies Department.  Sometimes referred to as the Council’s “think tank” the Studies Department spearheads the Council’s efforts to promote discussion on issues shaping the international agenda.  The department includes a large number of scholars and research associates who engage each other, Council members, and non-affiliated individuals in research on topics and regions related to United States foreign policy, which historically have included topics such as international trade, arms control, and economic development, and regions such as the former Soviet Union, the Middle East, and Latin America, to name a few.

These records reveal the Council’s work on international problems during the interwar years and how, once World War II began, it almost immediately began studying how to establish a lasting peace upon its conclusion. Though a non-government organization, CFR’s members were part of the foreign policy establishment and the work of its study groups played an influential role in post-war planning, as evidenced by the fact that many of its members, including John Foster Dulles, attended the San Francisco Conference to establish the United Nations.  In his history of the Council, Michael Wala writes that “during World War II the Council grew into the role of respected advisor and listening post for the attitude of elites throughout the nation…In its study and discussion groups the Council could assemble elites” drawn from public agencies and private organizations who were “bound together through formal and informal ties.”

These ties are documented in the study group records.  In fact, many of the individuals whose papers will be digitized as part of the grant were involved with or spoke at the Council.  While we work towards posting the study group materials during the coming weeks, you can already listen to meetings and presentations involving Allen Dulles, John Foster Dulles, George Kennan, and Adlai Stevenson from our finding aids site.

Throughout its history the Council has been subject to criticism about its reach and influence. In his book Wala notes that the “development of conspiratorial theories about its reach and function” is partly the result of a lack of access to documentary material.  The availability of the Council records at Mudd over the last decade has helped to address that lack of access and we hope that the availability of the study group material online will open these records to new audiences.

Why — and How — We Digitize

It’s February, and we’re now in the second month of our NHPRC-funded digitization project. In twenty-three more months, we’ll have completed scanning and uploading 400,000 pages of our most-viewed material to our finding aids, and anyone with an internet connection will be able to view it.

This is just the most recent effort to introduce digitization as a normal part of our practice at Mudd. As I said in my previous post, we know that it’s well and good that we have collections that document the history of US diplomacy, economics, journalism and civil rights in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. But for the majority of potential users, who may never be able to come to Princeton, NJ, this is irrelevant. However interested they may be, they may never be able to afford to visit us. And there’s a whole other subset of potential users — let’s call them working people — who can’t come between the hours of 9:00 and 4:45, Monday through Friday. Are we really providing fair and equitable access under these conditions? Since we have the resources to digitize, it’s imperative that we develop the infrastructure and political will to do so.

We know that it’s time to get serious — and smart — about scanning.

The ball has been rolling in this direction for some time. We have three “streams” of making digital content available, and with our new finding aids site, we have an intuitive way of linking descriptions of our materials to the materials themselves.

Images of the collection in the context of the finding aid

Images of the collection in the context of the finding aid

Our first is patron-driven digitization.

The Zeutschel -- our amazing German powerhouse face-up scanner

This is our Zeutschel scanner. It does amazing work, is easy on our materials, and usually requires very little quality control.

Archives have been providing photoduplication services since the advent of the photocopier. At Mudd, we have dedicated staff who have been doing this work for decades. Recently, we’ve just slightly tweaked our processes to create scans instead of paper copies and to (in many cases) re-use the scans that we make so that they’re available to all patrons, not just the one requesting the scan.

A patron (maybe you!) finds something in our finding aids that he thinks he may be interested in, and asks for a copy.

If he’s in our reading room, he flags the pages of material he wants. If he’s remote, he identifies the folders or volumes to be scanned. The archivist tells him how much the scan will cost, and he pre-pays.

Now, the scanning. This either happens on our photocopier (the technician can press “scan” instead of “photocopy” to create a digital file instead of a paper one) or on our Zeutschel scanner. And while we feel happy and lucky to have the Zeutschel, we don’t strictly need it to fulfill our mission to digitize.

The scan is named in a way that associates it with the description of the material in the finding aid, and is then linked up and served online. We currently send the patron an email of this scan, but in the future we may just send them a link to the uploaded content.

Our second stream is targeted digitization based on users’ viewing patterns

Our friendly student receptionist, Ashley, scans materials at the front desk when she isn't welcoming patrons.

Our student receptionist, Ashley, scans materials at the front desk when she isn’t welcoming patrons.

We try to keep lots of good information about what our users find interesting. We use a service called google analytics to learn about what users are browsing online, and we keep statistics about which physical materials patrons see in the reading room.

From these sources, we create a list of most-viewed materials, and set up a system for our students to scan them in their downtime when they’re working at the front desk.

We do this because we want to make sure that we’re putting the effort into digitizing resources that patrons actually want to see — there are more than 35,000 linear feet of materials at the Mudd Library. We probably won’t ever be able to digitize absolutely everything, and it wouldn’t make sense to start from “A” and go to “Z”. So, we pay attention to trends and try to anticipate what researchers might find useful.

Our final stream — and the one for which we currently have to rely on external support — is large-scale vendor-supplied digitization.

Our current cold war project is a great example of this. We’ve put together a project plan, chosen materials, called for quotes and chosen a vendor. We recently shipped our first collection to be digitized, and I’ll be posting information to the blog as we move forward.

Another good example of an externally-supported digitization activity is the scanning of microfilm from our American Civil Liberties Union Records. Our earliest records were microfilmed decades ago and recently, Professor Sam Walker supported the digitization of some of this microfilm so that they could be made available online.

No single stream — externally-supported projects, left-to-right scanning, or patron-driven digitization — would be enough to support our goal of maximizing the content available online. We hope that the three, each pursued aggressively, will help us realize our mission of providing equitable access to our materials. And we think that focusing on this cold war project will help us reflect on and improve all of our digitization activities.