National Archives Recovers Treasure Trove of Kennedy Materials
Press Release · Thursday, June 16, 2005
Washington, DC. . . Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein announced that the National Archives and Records Administration, on behalf of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, has reached a settlement with the estate of Robert L. White for the return of thousands of pages of documents and artifacts from the presidential and pre-presidential period of John F. Kennedy's career as a public servant. These materials were covered in a 1965 deed of gift from the estate of President Kennedy, which donated official papers and artifacts associated with the President and his life to the National Archives, in trust for the American people.
This settlement follows another important agreement reached last fall, in which a map of Cuba used and annotated by President Kennedy when he was first briefed by the CIA on the Cuban Missile Crisis was returned to the Kennedy Library. Mrs. Evelyn Lincoln, President Kennedy's secretary, improperly removed the map from the custody of the United States. Mr. White obtained the map from Mrs. Lincoln and subsequently sold it. The National Archives was alerted by a researcher in 2002 that the map was for sale on the internet for $750,000. The Justice Department filed a lawsuit on behalf of the National Archives to stop the sale and seek its return, and the case was finally settled last fall.
Among the items that were recovered yesterday from Mr. White's estate are a rocking chair used by President Kennedy in the Oval Office; signing pens used by President Kennedy to sign Public Laws, Executive Orders and International Treaties; a piece of wood originally from the floor of the U.S. Senate that was incorporated into the platform for the 1961 inaugural ceremony; letters, notes, and schedules from President Kennedy and his staff documenting the official business of the White House, as well as important files from his years as a U.S. Senator.
Robert White also obtained this material from Mrs. Lincoln. Mrs. Lincoln was entrusted with the responsibility of safekeeping President Kennedy's personal effects, historical items and writings. Rather than turning over all of these materials to President Kennedy's family and to the National Archives, Mrs. Lincoln kept a large number of these items and eventually gave or sold them to Mr. White.
In making the announcement of these settlements, Professor Weinstein said "I am very pleased that these important documents and artifacts are finally being returned to the Kennedy Library where they belong. It was the intent of the Kennedy family that the American people should have the fullest account of the Kennedy Administration, and these materials are essential in telling that story. I am very grateful for the hard work of all of those involved in making this a success story."
"Careful and excellent work by our archivists, curatorial staff and the National Archives General Counsel meant that these documents and artifacts are back home, where they belong. The Kennedy Presidential Library is committed to offering the full historical record of our 35th President, and these are important and welcome elements of our total collection, which includes 48 million pages of documents," commented Deborah Leff, Director of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library.
The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library is one of 11 Presidential libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration.
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