We Knew JFK: Unheard Stories from the Kennedy Archives

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A program based on never-before-broadcast interviews from a Carnegie Corporation-funded oral history project is being broadcast on public radio stations around the country to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Hosted by veteran journalist Robert MacNeil, “We Knew JFK: Unheard Stories from the Kennedy Archives” features interviews with a wide range of people who knew President Kennedy, captured while their memories of events were still fresh.

The recordings come from The John F. Kennedy Oral History Project, begun in 1964 with a $300,000 grant from Carnegie Corporation.  It was a groundbreaking project that aimed to produce a comprehensive oral history of a president’s life—something that had never been done before—while the nation was still in mourning for an assassinated leader.

Carnegie Corporation continued to fund the project, which is now under the aegis of the National Archives, until 1970. The program has served as a model for other presidential oral history programs. The Corporation also provided support for the documentary, created by Public Radio Exchange and First Person Productions.

For more on John F. Kennedy and his legacy, read an article in The Atlantic magazine by Corporation Honorary Trustee and former Board Chairman Newton N. Minnow, who was friends with the President; you can also watch a short PBS video of Minnow sharing his experiences: