This website is where I post my notes on the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection (JFK ARC). I am also slowly putting together an introduction to the Collection for general readers. For now, however, the introduction is limited to this page, which provides a short description of the Collection’s history and contents. The majority of the site is in notes posted in the blog section, summarized by the recent posts list and post categories, on the right. For those wondering, I am not employed by or affiliated with NARA or the JFKARC.
About the JFK ARC
The John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection (ARC) was established on October 26, 1992 to collect and preserve government and private records on the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
The ARC was created by the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act (ARCA), which gave responsibility for processing and preserving the records to the National Archives and Record Administration (NARA). The Collection is now housed at NARA’s College Park facility and includes the files of all government investigations of the assassination, and most of the physical evidence in the case. NARA currently estimates that the Collection includes over 300,000 records, with approximately 5 million pages.
Many of these records were produced by federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies, such as the FBI, the CIA, and the NSA, and includes sensitive information such as the names of informants and methods of gathering intelligence. The release of these documents was overseen by the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB), an independent federal agency created by the ARCA. The majority of the records in the ARC were released in full by the ARRB from 1993-1998.
In the few cases where the ARRB believed that further withholding of information in the Collection was necessary under the criteria of the ARCA, they granted “postponements” for these passages, withholding them from the public for periods ranging from months to years. The ARCA deadline for release of the complete text of most collection documents was 25 years after the ARCA was signed into law, on October 27, 2017.
Several categories of documents were exempt from this deadline, however, including tax documents, federal grand jury testimony, and documents deeded as gifts to the federal library system. According to NARA, there are 520 such documents in the Collection that will not be released.
In addition to the statutory exemptions listed above, the ARCA permitted the President to extend the deadline where information in the collection would present “an identifiable harm to military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement, or conduct of foreign relations,” and where this harm “outweighed the public interest in disclosure.”
NARA began releasing withheld records from the Collection in July 2017. The last releases were in April 2018. According to NARA, there remain 15,834 documents that have not yet been released in full. President Trump granted exemptions for continued withholding of the unreleased information in these records, with the provision that the documents will be reviewed again by September 2021.
About this site
I became interested in the ARC in October 2017, after the first two releases took place. News coverage of the releases was particularly confusing, and I began looking at the Collection myself. Although the main releases are now over, I remain interested in the Collection, and will continue working on it as my time and research allow.
This website now has most of the notes I wrote on the ARC from 2017-2019. I have edited them for consistency and at the top of notes previously posted online, I have added the date they were first put up and a link to the original posting at my blog, rgr-cyt.org. This website is still under construction, so occasionally things will change or move around without much notice. Comments, criticism, and suggestions are welcome!