On September 25, 1963, President John F. Kennedy visited the University of North Dakota (UND) in Grand Forks, as a part of his five-day journey across the United States, which began in Pennsylvania and ended in California. While at UND he spoke on the importance of conservation in the United States. Although President Kennedy’s visit was short, “one magic hour,” it is one of the most notable events in UND history. The time spent at UND also appears to have been memorable for President Kennedy. In a letter dated October 14, 1963, President Kennedy stated, “I was impressed with the University of North Dakota [….] Nothing is more important than educating our youth.” To that end, he enclosed a personal check with a donation to the UND Development fund.
Audio recordings and photographs of President Kennedy’s visit have been preserved at the Chester Fritz Library Department of Special Collections. The UND JFK Digital Archive was created from these historic recordings and photographs. The White House Press Conferences do not relate to the President’s visit to UND, but were routinely sent to the University’s radio station (KFJM) for airing. They have been preserved as part of the KFJM archives in Special Collections.
The 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
In September 2008, the University marked the anniversary of JFK’s visit with a conference, “John F. Kennedy History, Memory, Legacy”. Gregory Gordon, Associate Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Human Rights and Genocide Studies, originated the idea for the conference and was the guiding force in organizing and bringing it to fruition. To promote the conference, 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. She supervised 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. A photo gallery documenting his visit was also created from the Library’s photograph collection. The Library has preserved and provides access to this digital collection while using iTunes U to provide access to the audio files.
Any use or reproduction of the JFK Digital Archive should acknowledge the University of North Dakota Chester Fritz Library, Department of Special Collections. For information about this or other UND digital collections, contact the Department of Special Collections at firstname.lastname@example.org.