Kennedy's Visit to UND Remembered on iTunes

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Kennedy's Visit to UND Remembered on iTunes

The University of North Dakota's John F. Kennedy Digital Archive Audio Files (iTunes required) Photo Gallery

by Craig A. Garaas-Johnson

On September 25, 1963, President John F. Kennedy visited the University of North Dakota, a rarity for a sitting president and the University. The visit only lasted an hour, but that was enough to make the President’s stop memorable for those who attended, and notable in the history of the University.

January of 2011 marks the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s inauguration, a somber reminder of his promise as a leader, and memory of a life cut short. To commemorate Kennedy’s inauguration, iTunes is highlighting the audio files of his speech at UND and other related broadcasts available through the University’s iTunes U.

The University of North Dakota JFK Digital Archive includes 10 audio files:

  • White House Press Conference, August 10, 1961
  • White House Press Conference, March 29, 1962
  • White House Press Conference, April 11, 1962
  • White House Press Conference, April 18, 1962
  • White House Press Conference, May 17, 1962
  • White House Press Conference, May 23, 1962
  • White House Press Conference, June 7, 1962
  • White House Press Conference, February 21, 1963
  • University of North Dakota Address by President John F. Kennedy, September 25, 1963
  • KFJM Radio Announcement of JFK's Assassination

A photo gallery documenting Kennedy’s visit was also created from the Chester Fritz Library Department of Special Collections’ photograph collection. The Library provides access to this digital collection; iTunes U provides access to the audio files.

Dr. Crystal Alberts, Assistant Professor in the Department of English, worked with the Library’s Special Collections Department to create a digital archive of the JFK’s visit to UND. “It’s important for those that want to do scholarship on Kennedy,” said Alberts. “These files were never digitized by the Kennedy library, so having them accessible in this way is a contribution to scholarship.”

Alberts led a group of students in her digital humanities course to create the electronic transcript of Kennedy’s speech from the audio files in Special Collections.

Kennedy’s trip was part of a five-day journey across the United States to support a national discussion about new uses and technologies for the country’s abundant resources. Kennedy cited the upper Missouri Valley, and specifically the Garrison Dam which created Lake Sakakawea, as an important “conservation landmark.”

Kennedy points to President Theodore Roosevelt as an inspiring figure in North Dakota’s history of conservation. “I do not argue whether it was Harvard University or North Dakota that made Theodore Roosevelt such a man and such a conservationist,” said Kennedy, “but I am sure that his years here in North Dakota helped make him realize how expensive, how wasteful was indifference to this great resource and how valuable it could become.”

Begun in 1946, the Garrison Dam was constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers and is the fifth largest earthen dam in the world. In the 1930’s, only three out of every hundred farms in North Dakota were lit by electricity. With a nameplate capacity of over 500 megawatts, the hydropower turbines still generate electricity for much of the region.

Kennedy’s visit came just 60 days before he was killed while visiting Dallas, Texas. UND awarded Kennedy an honorary Doctor of Laws before he spoke.

Of Note: In 1963, the city of Grand Forks had a population of a little over 30,000, yet the crowd filling the Fieldhouse (renamed Hyslop Sports Center) was estimated at 20,000.

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