Week 5 Blog: Jack Ruby’s Trial: the Soon-to-be Open Collection

On November 24th, 1963, the suspected assassin of President John F. Kennedy, Harvey Lee Oswald was shot at close range by a man named Jack Ruby. Little is taught about Jack Ruby, other than he was a night club operator and was the man who killed Oswald. Much of the story remains shrouded in mystery.

According to a local Dallas news station WFAA8’s online article, “14 Boxes of Jack Ruby Records Become Public Next Week” material from Jack Ruby’s trial will become public for the first time. The Sixth Floor Museum At Dealey Plaza is currently digitizing the collection for researcher and visitor review. Some of the material can be currently seen under the “Jack Ruby Collection” at https://www.jfk.org. Within the article, U.S. Federal Judge John R. Tunheim, who chaired the U.S. Assassination Records Review Board in the 1990s, suggests that the records truly belong in the national archives saying, “I think it’s a better bet that the National Archives will have everything in order. Give the originals to NARA where they will be kept in perfect condition for as long as we are a country.”[1]

Had I not enrolled in Archives and Manuscripts this semester, I may have agreed with Judge Tunheim’s conclusion. However, when evaluate with archival practice in mind, the Sixth Floor Museum is the better choice. The museum is not only a niche museum dedicated to President Kennedy’s assassination, but they have prioritized the digitalization of a collection which may not have been digitized at NARA. Their ownership of the documents is most-likely essential to their access and digitization. While preservation techniques and conditions may be superior at NARA, the volume of material there could easily mean these documents would not receive the preferential treatment they’re receiving at the Sixth Floor Museum. In the archival sense, these documents are not only accessible to a large non-archival audience, but the digitization of the collection may serve to preserve the usable data. Time will tell in regard to what is digitized and if the archival material is processed logically. While it is highly unlikely the material in this box will answer why Jack Ruby killed Oswald, it will certainly help researchers and the public understand more about the enigmatic man himself.




[1] Whitely, Jason. ““14 Boxes of Jack Ruby Records Become Public Next Week”.” WFAA. http://www.wfaa.com/features/14-boxes-of-jack-ruby-records-become-public-next-week/477719764.


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