Thursday, April 16, 2015

Artifact Spotlight: Cecil Kirk, JFK Assassination Related Archive

Officer Cecil Kirk providing testimony to the House Select Committee on Assassinations.
Collection of the National Law Enforcement Museum, 2015.2.6.

The National Law Enforcement Museum is pleased to announce the acquisition of a fascinating archive of materials from the estate of Officer Cecil Kirk of the Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, DC.

When President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, it shook the nation and sparked a chain of events that would have countless implications for law enforcement.  President Johnson established the Warren Commission to do a full investigation of the assassination.  Public response to the Warren Commission’s final report was widespread skepticism, and a variety of conspiracy theories began to circulate surrounding evidence from the case.

In response to this prevalent distrust, in 1976, the United States House of Representatives Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) was formed to further investigate the Kennedy assassination, as well as the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Officer Kirk was tasked with providing the Committee an analysis of the forensic photography and photographic documentation of the JFK investigation. This included providing testimony to the Committee on Lee Harvey Oswald’s infamous “backyard photographs,” which many in the public had begun to think were fabricated. Through his work and testimony, Kirk and his team confirmed the authenticity of these photos.

Varying examples of the Lee Harvey Oswald’s infamous backyard photograph. Kirk made prints from the photograph’s original negative to present as part of his testimony. Collection of the National Law Enforcement Museum, 2015.2.3.

The archive includes copies of Kirk’s testimony to the HSCA with his hand written notes, as well as examples of some of the photographs he used to make his case.