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How To Read The Newly Released JFK Documents

by Countable | 10.26.17

On Thursday, thousands of long-sealed documents about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy will be released to the public.

JFK was assassinated on November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas, just over two years into presidency. Almost immediately, there were conspiracy theories about the murder: why JFK was killed, who pulled the trigger, if they acted alone, where he (or she, or them, or Ted Cruz’s dad) fired from.

On October 26, 1992, Congress enacted the JFK Assassination Records Collection Act, which included the language "Each assassination record shall be publicly disclosed in full, and available in the Collection no later than the date that is 25 years after the date of the enactment of this Act…"

Thus, here we are, 25 years later.

Here’s how to read the newly-released documents.

Log on to the National Archives JFK Assassination Records page

The JFK Assassination Records Collection Act mandated that all materials related to the assassination be housed in a single collection in the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

Click here for NARA’s main site then scroll down to 2017 Release. Or jump to the 2017 Release page here.

Scroll down to the October 2017 files

In July, the National Archives released a 3,810 documents, including 441 formerly withheld-in-full documents and 3,369 documents that had been released in the past with redacted portions. Those documents, and the interest in them, crashed the Archives site. While officials have said they’ve modified the site for the expected increase in traffic with this document dump, don’t be surprised by slow load times (or maybe it’s part of a conspiracy?).

Spin your mouse past all the July 2017 release files to the October 26, 2017 uploads.

Download the .zip files

The files are huge, so NARA has zipped them for faster downloading. (For reference, the July 2017 Release — Formerly Withheld In Full documents — was split into 18 parts, and ranged from 738MB to 1.7GB.) Therefore, make sure you have unzipping (expander) software like winrar for Windows or unarchiver for Mac.

Click on the file you want and download it to your hard drive.

Research away

After unzipping the file, you’ll have a library of full PDF documents you can read with Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Now, you can read them, search them, and try to solve the unanswered questions about the Kennedy assassination.

— Josh Herman

(Photo Credit: NoDerog / iStockphoto)

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