JFK Assassination Records

Associated Press Wire Copy Donated by Richard Barnes

Volume: .86 cubic feet
For questions about these records or copying information, please write to the Special Access and FOIA Staff at the National Archives at College Park, Room 6350, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740-6001, call at (301) 837-3190, or e-mail: specialaccess_foia@nara.gov.

The Records

The materials consist of the entire A-wire and B-wire reports of The Associated Press for five complete days, November 22-26, 1963. The collection begins early the morning of the assassination, including news of the President's trip to Texas. It concludes the evening of the day following the funeral. The A-wire is the AP's main national news wire. The B-wire at that time was normally the main secondary news wire, but in times of transcendent events, carried much news that would normally move on the A-wire.

Unlike a newspaper, which gathers its material over hours and publishes at a set time, a wire service transmits important news as it occurs and updates its stories as further events develop. This material shows new information coming to light minute by minute. For example, from almost the outset, the stories report three shots being fired. The material includes erroneous reports and their subsequent changes, and curiosities such as a telephone company official's account of a California woman being overheard on the telephone 20 minutes before the assassination saying that Kennedy would be killed. The material, particularly from the hours preceding the assassination, portrays the news of the day. For example, Richard Nixon predicted that President Kennedy would dump Vice President Johnson as his running mate in 1964.

This material was received by teletypewriter in the San Francisco bureau of the AP on continuous multi-copy rolls of paper. Much of the material is the top copy; the rest is a carbon copy from such rolls. As per normal procedure in the bureau, one copy of the incoming report was torn into foot-long strips and bound into 12-hour segments (24-hour on Sundays) with staples and a metal fastener. Some of the copy is single spaced and some is double-spaced, depending on how the copy boy set the teletypewriter. There are approximately 1,200 to 1,500 pages of material.

Richard Barnes

Richard "Dick" Barnes worked in the San Francisco bureau of AP as a newsman at the time of the assassination. Under normal bureau procedure, a bound copy of the incoming wire report for each cycle (12-hour period) was kept on hand for 30 days in case any recent stories were needed for reference. At the end of 30 days, the reports were discarded. In December, approximately three weeks after the assassination, Barnes requested the bound copies for November 22-26, when it was time for them to be thrown out. The news editor agreed and Barnes took possession on approximately December 22-26, 1963, and possessed the materials until he donated them to the National Archives in July 1997.

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