John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston
announced Tuesday that it has declassified and made available to
the public the last 45 hours of tapes from the slain president's
During the JFK government more than 248 hours of conversations and
meetings of the president and 12 hours of telephone conversations
were recorded using the Dictabelt system.
"The Library has been systematically reviewing and opening these
secretly recorded tapes since 1993. We are thrilled to have
completed the process and know researchers will be fascinated with
these recordings from John F. Kennedy's final days as president,"
the library's director, Tom Putnam, said in a statement.
The tapes cover a wide range of topics, events and historic
moments such as the Vietnam War, the 1964 presidential campaign, a
discussion with then-Soviet foreign minister Andrei Gromyko, and
his children's visits to the Oval Office.
During a Sep 10, 1963, meeting about the Vietnam conflict, Kennedy
expressed his frustration with the contradictory reports given him
by his military and diplomatic advisors and asked them to explain
why their accounts were so at odds with one other.
"You both went to the same country?," he asked.
Another tape shows a Kennedy concerned about his image and his
"But what is it that we can make them decide that they want to
vote for us, Democrats and Kennedy," he said in one discussion.
"What is it we have to sell them?"
The last recording was Nov 20, 1963, in which Kennedy is heard
talking about his plans for the following week. Two days later he
was assassinated in Dallas.
"Although on the one hand releasing the final recordings is a
bittersweet milestone, on the other, we hope that the public will
appreciate having the opportunity to hear these important
discussions firsthand," said archivist Maura Porter, who has been
overseeing the Library's declassification of the White House
"The presidential recordings are an historical treasure for those
interested in truly feeling like a participant during Oval Office
discussions from this time period. No other avenue can present the
facts quite like listening to the players themselves," she said.