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JFK Library goes digital

From Lindy Royce-Bartlett, CNN
  • Kennedy had hoped that the "key documents" from his administration would be available
  • Now, more than 200,000 digitized documents, photos and audio from his days are online
  • It is the largest online digitized presidential archives in the nation

Washington (CNN) -- To help mark the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's inauguration, the United States' largest online digitized presidential archives were unveiled Thursday.

At the beginning of the event at the National Archives in Washington, reporters were shown a portion of one of Kennedy's press conferences from the early 1960s in which he addressed the question of where and how his historical documents would be kept.

"We will find it possible to reproduce the key documents, that they will be commonly available, I would hope, in Washington," Kennedy responded. Many original records, however, ended up being kept at the Kennedy Library in Boston, making them not accessible to historians who were unable to travel.

Now, with advances in critical hardware and software, the most important papers, records, photographs and recordings from Kennedy's time in office will be available online.

"As of today, anyone in the world with access to the internet can now view, download and analyze the original records of the Kennedy administration at the click of a mouse." said David S. Ferriero, archivist of the United States.

Kennedy presidency online

Caroline Kennedy, who attended Thursday's unveiling, believes that the digitization of her father's records will be useful to today's youth, in particular.

"In our increasingly fragmented society, young people are often disconnected and disillusioned with politics. President Kennedy's example -- his words, his spirit -- are more relevant than ever," she said, "Using today's technology, we will be able to give today's generation access to the historical record and challenge them to answer my father's call to service, to solve the problems of our own time."

Four corporations -- AT&T, EMC, Iron Mountain and Raytheon -- worked together to create the hardware and software needed to make the digitization possible.

"This new Kennedy Library digital archives includes more than 200,000 digitized documents, the drafts of every speech delivered by the president, thousands of official white House photographs, and audio of all of President Kennedy's speeches and video of press conferences during his years in office," Ferriero said.

The JFK archives can be viewed at