Books and The Assassination of JFK


The Sixth Floor Museum


A bit of famous book place tourism for you here, this is the Texas School Book Depository, now known as The Sixth Floor Museum where Lee Harvey Oswald hid to take part in/ undertake the assassination of JFK in 1963. I visited here on my first day in Dallas, apart from the TV show (which I’ve never watched) the assassination of JFK is the first thought that sprang to mind when I was told I would get to visit the city for work.

Displays at the museum show how text books were stacked to create a partition, seat and gun rest for the gunman, making them an active part of history rather than documents of the fact.

You can’t take pictures from inside the museum, but to contextualize the historical period, they had examples of popular culture at the time of the assassination which included posters from films which were released around the time, such as Breakfast at Tiffany and first editions of books such as To Kill A Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye and The Rise and Fall of The Third Reich. It was really interesting for me to see those books on display as part of the exhibit, because in my mind they are a part of what I would have considered the mid-20th century, whereas the assassination of JFK I thought of as later in the 20th century. It was interesting to see that historically they are much closer together than I thought, and it reminded me that this really was a time of historic turbulence and the Kennedy regime had so much potential as a turning point in this. Growing up in the UK it’s not something I’d ever studied.

It was really interesting to visit the museum and see that the curators had chosen to display these books. Seeing this done with modern history really brought home the ways in which books can contain the spirit of the times, and stand as a testimony to this.


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