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JFK Library opens largest online digitized presidential archive

Lucas Mearian | Jan. 13, 2011
The online archive includes 7.5 million feet of film footage

The online archives include the president's office files, personal papers, the JFK White House photograph collection, the audio speech collection, and the film and video collection.

The Kennedy Presidential Library includes more than 8.4 million pages of Kennedy's personal, congressional and presidential papers and over 40 million pages from more than 300 other individuals who were associated with the Kennedy administration or mid-20th century American history. In addition, the archives hold more than 400,000 still photographs, 9,000 hours of audio recordings, 7.5 million feet of motion picture film and 1,200 hours of video recordings. Digitization efforts are ongoing and additional material will be added to the archive as it is scanned and described.

The documents, photographs, and audio and video recordings are digitized at high resolution to preserve fidelity, thus resulting in large file sizes for each item. One standard document page consumes about 100MB of data, and the size of the archive, inclusive of all media, is expected to increase to approximately 152TB by 2016.

Digitizing the records was a labor-intensive activity, with each page or photograph carefully placed by hand on a special scanner. Special handling and digitization equipment are also required for the often fragile audio/visual materials, many of which were recorded on analog media long since rendered obsolete.

Among the companies contributing their hardware, software and technical expertise to make the archives possible are EMC, AT&T, Iron Mountain and Raytheon. In a video, the companies explained their contributions to the project.


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