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JFK LIBRARY RELEASES LAST WHITE HOUSE RECORDINGS

January 24, 2012


JFK LIBRARY RELEASES LAST WHITE HOUSE RECORDINGS


Boston, Massachusetts (JFK+50) The John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library announced today that is releasing the last 45 hours of recordings that were made secretly by President Kennedy.


Tom Putnam, JFK Library Director, said:


“We are thrilled (that) researchers will be fascinated with these recordings from JFK’s final days as President.”*


*Follow the link below to read the transcripts from the recordings or to hear and/or download excerpts.


JFK LIBRARY NEWS RELEASE



STORY BEHIND THE JFK RECORDINGS


John F. Kennedy used a Dictaphone recording machine both before & after he became President of the United States.


The Dictaphone was manufactured by American Dictaphone Corporation beginning in 1947.


The machine used a 3.5″ wide thin plastic belt which was placed on a cylinder.


A moving needle in the machine made the recordings on the belt.



                         The Dictaphone


As Senator & then as President, JFK used the Dictaphone primarily for dictating letters or notes which would then be transcribed & then printed on a typewriter by his secretary.



                 JFK with Ted Sorensen
             Dictaphone located on the 
               table behind JFK’s chair


In summer 1962, however, JFK put in a request to the Secret Service asking them to place recorders in the West Wing basement for the purpose of recording his meetings & conversations in the Cabinet Room & Oval Office.


The SS chose state of the art Tandberg reel to reel tape recorders & connected them to microphones placed in both rooms.*


*Tandberg tape recorders were made in Norway.



JFK had the option of turning the recorders on & off using switches placed in those two rooms of the West Wing of the White House.  In the Oval Office there was a switch at JFK’s desk & on the coffee table in front of his rocking chair.


“The most plausible explanation for Kennedy’s making secret tape recordings is that he wanted material to be used later in writing a memoir.”*


*Source


“The Presidential Recordings:  JFK, The Great Crises, Volumes 1-3,” by Philip Zelikow & Ernest May (2001).


www.whitehousetapes.net 


Although President Eisenhower did make selective recordings at the White House, JFK “was the first president to extensively record his meetings & telephone conversations.”


JFK turned on the recording mechanism in over 300 meetings held in the Cabinet Room & Oval Office.  These were recorded onto 127 reel-to-reel analog tapes.


The President also turned it on for 275 of his telephone conversations.  They were recorded onto 73 dictabelts.


Only JFK, Evelyn Lincoln, his personal secretary & the technicians who installed & maintained the recording system knew of its existence.**


**Source:


“History of Presidential Audio Recordings & the Archival Issues Surrounding Their Use” by John Powers, 1996.



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