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UND's John F. Kennedy digital archives to be featured on iTunes

Posted on 1/14/2011

On Jan. 20, the 50th anniversary of the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy, Apple iTunes will feature the University of North Dakota's JFK Digital Archives.

Ten recordings of the late president, who was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, on Nov. 22, 1963, are available on iTunes through UND. They include a speech he gave at the University on Sept. 25, 1963, as part of a five-day tour around the United States.

"This is significant because now that these recordings are in a digital form, they're available to anyone who has access to iTunes," said Wilbur Stolt, director of UND's Chester Fritz Library. "Before this, historical researchers interested in the recordings would have to contact the library or make a visit."

Audio recordings on cassette tapes, speech text and photographs of Kennedy's 1963 visit to UND were preserved in the library's special collections section. They are now available online at the University's website as the JFK Digital Archive (

The digital collection includes eight of Kennedy's presidential news conferences held between August 1961 and February 1963, as well as the announcement of Kennedy's death made by KFJM, the public radio station on UND's campus.

"President Kennedy was killed not long after he visited UND, which made his visit here that much more significant," Stolt noted.

UND's digital archive of Kennedy's visit includes transcripts of the speech he delivered - both as written and as delivered. He discussed the need to preserve land for future generations through the creation of national parks. During Kennedy's one-hour visit, University President George Starcher conferred an honorary Doctors of Laws degree on him.

Curt Hanson, head of UND special collections, said tapes of Kennedy's news conferences were sent to KFJM by the White House prior to Kennedy's visit to UND. Before being converted to digital (MP3) format, they were not available online.

During the news conferences, Kennedy addresses topics ranging from a nuclear test ban agreement with the Soviet Union, the Peace Corps, tax legislation, the war in Vietnam, rising steel prices and other national and global issues of the early 60s.

In September 2008, the University marked the anniversary of JFK's visit with a conference, "John F. Kennedy History, Memory, Legacy." Gregory Gordon, associate professor of law and director of the Center for Human Rights and Genocide Studies, originated the idea for the conference.

Crystal Alberts, assistant professor in UND's Department of English and chair UND working group in digital and new media, worked with the library's special collections department to create a digital archive of Kennedy's visit to UND. She supervised a group of students in her digital humanities course to create the electronic transcript of Kennedy's speech from the audio files in special collections. The photo gallery documenting his visit was also created from the library's photograph collection.

Useful links

Apple iTunes preview page:

UND John F. Kennedy Digital Archives

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