JFK Presidential Library collection goes online

Tom Putnam, Director, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

wfedstaff | June 3, 2015 8:01 pm

Thursday is the 50th anniversary of the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy and his famous 1961 inaugural address that urged Americans to particiapte in public service with the famous line, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

Now Kennedy’s edits of that speech are available online at Access to a Legacy.

The digitized versions of the speech drafts are among about a quarter million pages of scanned papers, records, photographs, letters, doodles and more from the JFK Presidential Library and Museum in Boston. The JFK collection has the nation’s largest digitized presidential archive.


“We hope it somewhat democratizes history,” said Tom Putnam, director of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, in an interview with the DorobekINSIDER.

The project, which is ongoing, involved staff scanning the pages one by one and then researchers adding meta-data later. The meta-data allows users to search pages from different collections, Putnam said.

Before Access to a Legacy, the public relied on historians and journalists to do the research. Now, anyone can search online, he said.

“We hope it allows people to delve into the story of John F. Kennedy in ways they never could before,” Putnam said.