Richard B. Russell, Jr. Collection, Subgroup C, Series XIII: Kennedy AssassinationsRichard B. Russell, Jr. Collection, Subgroup C, Series XIII: Kennedy Assassinations

Richard B. Russell, Jr. Collection, Subgroup C, Series XIII: Kennedy Assassinations

Descriptive Summary

Title: Richard B. Russell, Jr. Collection, Subgroup C, Series XIII: Kennedy Assassinations
Creator: Russell, Richard B., (Richard Brevard), 1897-1971
Dates: 1963-1970
Extent: 14.0 boxes (7 linear feet)
Collection Number: RBRL/001/RBR
Repository: Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies
Abstract: The Richard B. Russell, Jr. Collection, Subgroup C, Series XIII. Kennedy Assassinations concerns both the homicides of John F. Kennedy and his brother, Robert F. Kennedy. The majority of the documents, however, relate to the president's assassination and the subsequent findings of the Warren Commission. The files of this series include information prompted by the investigation, correspondence, reports, testimony transcripts, book manuscript drafts and proofs, memoranda, evidential material, manuscript drafts and proofs of the final commission report and clippings pertaining to the assassinations, the commission reports, and other related topics. Other material related to this series is in the Dictation series and in the Intra-Office Communications series of the Winder Papers. Any additional non-textual materials originally filed with papers were removed for preservation purposes and improved access. These materials include photographs, audiovisual items, scrapbooks, vertical files, memorabilia, and books.

Collection Description

Biographical Note

Richard Brevard Russell, Jr. held public office for fifty years as a state legislator, governor, and U.S. senator. The highlights of his legislative career included support of non-interventionist foreign policy, passage of the National School Lunch Program, securing funding for military installations and research facilities—including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—and his opposition to equal rights for African Americans, most evident in the filibuster of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Russell was born in Winder, GA on November 2, 1897, to Judge Richard B. Russell, Sr. and Ina Dillard Russell, a teacher. He was the fourth of thirteen children and the first son. He earned a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Georgia in 1918. After a brief period practicing law, Russell ran for and won a seat in the Georgia House of Representatives in 1920. In 1927, he was elected Speaker of the House, a position he held until 1931. In 1930, Russell ran for governor against a crowded field of seasoned candidates, but he was victorious thanks to a grassroots campaign and his skill in door-to-door canvassing. He took the oath of office in June 1931 but only spent eighteen months as governor before the death of Senator William J. Harris presented him with the opportunity to run for the United States Senate.

Russell entered the U.S. Senate in 1933 and served until his death in 1971. He became one of the Senate's most influential members. During his tenure, he served sixteen years as chair of the Armed Services Committee and held a seat on the Appropriation Committee that spanned his tenure in the Senate. Additionally, Russell held positions on the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, the Committee on Immigration, the Aeronautical and Space Sciences Committee, and the Democratic Policy and Democratic Steering Committees.

Although he wielded considerable power through these committee appointments, Russell did not seek a position in the Senate leadership. Instead, he supported the ambitions of his protégé, Senator Lyndon Johnson from Texas for majority whip and later for majority leader. Russell ended his career as president pro tempore of the Senate—a post reserved for the member with the longest tenure in the Senate—making him third in the line of presidential succession.

Russell was known for his support of national defense, non-interventionist foreign policy, and his advocacy for agricultural interests (particularly those in Georgia). Russell opposed the United States entangling itself in international conflicts, especially in Vietnam and the Congo. In agricultural policy, the creation of the National School Lunch Program in 1946 was his most significant achievement for the nation's farmers. The program had the double effect of providing nutritious meals for schoolchildren while avoiding an economic crash by giving farmers a way to sell their surplus produce.

Russell's opposition to civil rights legislation overshadowed his many legislative achievements. He began contesting civil rights legislation as early as 1935 when he joined the other 17 senators in the Southern Bloc in voting against the Costigan-Wagner anti-lynching bill. Over three decades, Russell developed a reputation as a defender of “white traditions” and white supremacy.

During the Senate’s debate of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Russell led the Southern Bloc in a sixty-day filibuster in an attempt to prevent the bill’s passage, vowing to “resist to the bitter end any measure or any movement which would have a tendency to bring about social equality and intermingling and amalgamation of the races.” The filibuster came to an end only after a partnership of moderate Republicans and northern Democrats introduced a compromise bill that garnered the sixty-seven votes needed to invoke cloture and end the filibuster. The substitute civil rights bill passed on June 19 by a margin of 73-27.

Though Russell advised against attempts to resist the Civil Rights Act at the state level, he remained unapologetic in his criticism of it. In a speech given in the Senate on June 18, 1964, Russell sought to encourage the other members of the Southern Bloc, saying “…there will never come a time when it will be necessary for any one of us to apologize for his conduct or his courage.”

Russell left behind a list of political and legislative achievements and a reputation for mastery of legislative strategy. Despite his other distinctions, racial animus and obstructionism would become the most remembered aspects of his legacy. As biographer Gilbert Fite noted, Russell might well have achieved more, were it not for his racial views.

Scope and Content

Subgroup C, Series XIII. Kennedy Assassinations concerns both the homicides of John F. Kennedy and his brother, Robert F. Kennedy. The majority of the documents, however, relate to the president's assassination and the subsequent findings of the Warren Commission. The files of this series include information prompted by the investigation, correspondence, reports, testimony transcripts, book manuscript drafts and proofs, memoranda, evidential material, manuscript drafts and proofs of the final commission report and clippings pertaining to the assassinations, the commission reports, and other related topics. Other material related to this series is in the Dictation series and in the Intra-Office Communications series of the Winder Papers.

Organization and Arrangement

Subgroup C, Series XIII. Kennedy Assassinations is organized into two subseries subject files and miscellany.


Administrative Information and Restrictions

Access Restrictions

Case mail, cross-reference copies, and military academies are closed. Additional files are restricted throughout the collection, as noted in the container listing.

Preferred Citation

Richard B. Russell, Jr. Collection, Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, The University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Georgia.

Processing Notes

Clippings have been copied onto bond paper for protection of content. Artifacts, photographs, books, and audiovisual materials have been separated for preservation purposes and inventoried.

User Restrictions

Library acts as "fair use" reproduction agent.

Copyright Information

Before material from collections at the Richard B. Russell Library may be quoted in print, or otherwise reproduced, in whole or in part, in any publication, permission must be obtained from (1) the owner of the physical property, and (2) the holder of the copyright. It is the particular responsibility of the researcher to obtain both sets of permissions. Persons wishing to quote from materials in the Russell Library collection should consult the Director. Reproduction of any item must contain a complete citation to the original.

Finding Aid Publication

Finding aid prepared by Russell staff, 2008.


Related Materials

Access Points

Assassination--Investigation--United States.
Governmental investigations--United States.
Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963--Assassination.
Legislators--Georgia.
Legislators--United States.
Russell, Richard B., (Richard Brevard), 1897-1971
United States. Congress. Senate.
United States. Warren Commission.

Related Collections in this Repository

Richard B. Russell, Sr. Papers

Russell Family Collection

Patience Elizabeth Russell Peterson Papers

Hugh Peterson, Sr. Papers

Herman E. Talmadge Collection

Lamartine G. Hardman Collection

Related Collections in Other Repositories

John C. Stennis Papers, Mitchell Memorial Library, Mississippi State University

Lyndon B. Johnson Papers, Lyndon B. Johnson Library

Richard B. Russell, Jr. Gubernatorial Papers, Georgia Department of Archives and History

U.S. Senate. Committee on Appropriations, Center for Legislative Archives, NARA

U.S. Senate. Committee on Armed Services, Center for Legislative Archives, NARA


Series Descriptions and Folder Listing

 

Subgroup C. United States Senatorial Papers

Scope and Content: This subgroup of papers comprehensively reveals Richard Russell's activities as a United States senator representing the state of Georgia. The papers are divided into twenty series, two of which are closed; some files are restricted. Closed or restricted files are governed by donor agreement, Executive Orders, or privacy considerations. Not many files survived from Russell's first eleven years in office; the main series for this time period are Early Office, Political, Political Patronage, Personal, and a few files in General. In 1943 and 1944, Russell's staff members reorganized the office filing system, and from that point on, the files are very complete.
The 1943 filing system places the incoming letter with a copy of Russell's reply (the yellows) attached, and the correspondence is filed by subject; these files compose the majority of the senatorial papers. Subsequent letters from the constituent and copies of Russell's replies on the same subject continued to be attached to the original correspondence and filed under the date of the latest communication from Russell. Theoretically, at the end of each Congress, these files would have been retired to storage (with the possible exception of case mail); in practice, however, there was no consistency to the length of time the subject files were retained in the active status. To respect provenance of the files and to preserve the utility of the cross reference copies, the subject files are subdivided so that within each series they are arranged chronologically by the most recent date of correspondence (with all other correspondence attached thereto). A second copy of a Russell letter (the pinks, or Cross-Reference Copies Series) was made and filed separately by correspondent's surname in a chronological file. Intra-Office Communications and Speech/Media are form files. If Russell personally dictated any portion of a letter or added a postscript, two extra copies on onionskin paper (one for the Winder office and one for the Washington office) were made and filed by subject (Dictation Series), separate from the yellow and pink copies.The flexibility of the system allowed for much divergence in filing according to the discretion of the staff member involved. Thus, as personnel changed, their interpretations on how broad or specific they should be were reflected in the filing system itself. For example, "Foreign Aid" under the General Series and "Foreign Relations" under Legislative Series. The filing system indicates that correspondence relating to proposed or pending legislation was filed under committee in Legislative and relating to action taken on passed legislation or programs administered by government agencies was filed accordingly in General. In reality, two subject headings as similar as foreign aid and foreign relations could easily be interfiled.For the most part, original order was maintained for the senatorial papers. Exceptions are Civil Rights and MacArthur Hearings Series, which were originally part of the Legislative Series. These were separated because of their research potential and the influence Senator Russell had in each area. The Barboura G. Raesly File was added to the papers subsequent to the library's establishment and contains records and materials she kept in her position as personal secretary to Russell. The Exhibit B Series, which was closed by donor agreement, contains files pulled from other series and maintained separately. When files in this series opened, Exhibit B was arranged as a parallel file to the other senatorial papers series.



XIII. Kennedy Assassinations, 1963-1970

Extent: 14.0 boxes
Scope and Contents note: In 1963, President Lyndon Johnson set up a commission to investigate the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Senator Russell was one of seven members to serve on the Commission on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy (the Warren Commission). Because of so many other commitments, Russell was reluctant to serve on the commission. At this time, he was also leading the fight against the civil rights bill of 1964 and felt he could not participate in the whole investigation. Russell hired Alfredda Scobey, an Atlanta attorney, to assist him with commission work, and she often attended meetings in his place. Russell also presided as chairman of an informal subcommittee that went to Dallas, Texas, for a second interrogation of Marina Oswald.
Senator Russell had considerable influence on the final report. His main change considered whether there was a conspiracy among Lee Harvey Oswald, Jack Ruby, and possibly unknown parties to kill the president or whether Oswald acted on his own. Russell did not believe there was enough evidence to establish a conspiracy and that there were many unanswered questions. Much of the evidence was beyond the commission's reach.The Kennedy Assassinations series concerns both the homicides of John F. Kennedy and his brother, Robert F. Kennedy. The majority of the documents, however, relate to the president's assassination and the subsequent findings of the Warren Commission. This series is subdivided into subject files and miscellany. The files of this series include information prompted by the investigation, correspondence, reports, testimony transcripts, book manuscript drafts and proofs, memoranda, evidential material, manuscript drafts and proofs of the final commission report and newspaper clippings pertaining to the assassinations, the commission reports, and other related topics. Other material related to this series is in the Dictation series and in the Intra-Office Communications series of the Winder Papers.Certain files in the series were pulled by staff of the National Archives-Southeast Region in accordance with federal classifications and are still held by the National Archives under review.
A. Subject File
1. Assassination Commission (correspondence)
BoxFolder
111969-1970
121968
1 3-4 1967
151966
161965-1966
17November-December, 1964
BoxFolder
2 1-4 October, 1964
25August-September, 1964
26May-July, 1964
27January-April, 1964
28Unanswered letters 1963-1964
29December 15-31, 1963
210November 23 - December 14, 1963
2. Commission Reports and Hearings
BoxFolder
31[Dallas Map]
32[Notes by Richard B. Russell]
33[Correspondence from Mrs. Mark E. Martin]
34[Review of Secret Service Procedures]
35[Translation of Commission Exhibit No. 993 (Marina Oswald)]
36[Psychiatric Examination of Jack Ruby]
37[Listing of Witnesses and Radio and Television]
38[Report Distribution List]
39[Russell 3-Ring Notebook from Commission Meeting]
BoxFolder
41[Evidence re:Oswald]
42[Miscellaneous Chapter Drafts]
4 3-5 [Miscellaneous Data]
BoxFolder
5 1-6 [Miscellaneous Data]
BoxFolder
61Forward, Chapter 1 [Chapter Drafts and Proofs]
62Forward, Chapters 1 and 2 [Chapter Drafts and Proofs]
63Chapter 2 [Chapter Drafts and Proofs]
64Chapters 2, 3 [Chapter Drafts and Proofs]
65Chapter 3, appendix 4 [Chapter Drafts and Proofs]
66Forward, Chapters 2,3,4,5 [Chapter Drafts and Proofs]
BoxFolder
7 1-4 Chapter 4 [Chapter Drafts and Proofs]
75Chapter 5 [Chapter Drafts and Proofs]
76Chapter 6 [Chapter Drafts and Proofs]
BoxFolder
81Chapter 7 (includes Chapter 5) [Chapter Drafts and Proofs]
82Chapter 7 [Chapter Drafts and Proofs]
8 3-4 Chapter 8 [Chapter Drafts and Proofs]
85Chapter 8 - redraft of pages 68-72 redraft of narrative summary and Chapter
82[Chapter Drafts and Proofs]
86Appendices 4,10,16 [Chapter Drafts and Proofs]
87Appendix 6 [Chapter Drafts and Proofs]
88Appendices 13,15,18 [Chapter Drafts and Proofs]
BoxFolder
91Bound Reports, volume 32 [Chapter Drafts and Proofs]
92Bound Reports, volume 36 [Chapter Drafts and Proofs]
93Bound Reports, volume 44 [Chapter Drafts and Proofs]
94Bound Reports, volume 51 [Chapter Drafts and Proofs]
95Bound Reports, volume 52 [Chapter Drafts and Proofs]
96Bound Reports, volume 59 [Chapter Drafts and Proofs]
97Bound Reports, volume 60 [Chapter Drafts and Proofs]
BoxFolder
101Paper bound printed copies of Chapters, volume 1 [Chapter Drafts and Proofs]
102Paper bound printed copies of Chapters, volume 2 [Chapter Drafts and Proofs]
103Paper bound printed copies of Chapters, volume 3 [Chapter Drafts and Proofs]
104Paper bound printed copies of Chapters, volume 4 [Chapter Drafts and Proofs]
105Paper bound printed copies of Chapters, volume 6 [Chapter Drafts and Proofs]
3. Kennedy file
BoxFolder
111Correspondence, 1970
112Correspondence, 1969
113Correspondence, 1968
114Correspondence, Kennedy, Robert F. (Assassination), Jun-68
115Correspondence, 1965-1967
116Correspondence, 1964
117Correspondence, December 12-31, 1963
118Correspondence, December 6-11, 1963
119Correspondence, December 1-5, 1963
1110Correspondence, Nov-63
1111Correspondence, Unanswered Letters, 1963
4. Oswald File
BoxFolder
1211969
1221967
1231965-1967
1241964
1251963
B. Miscellany
BoxFolder
131Books, undated
132Magazines, 1965-1966, 1969
133Magazines, 1964
134Magazines, 1963
13 5-6 Newspapers, 28-Sep-64
BoxFolder
14 1-4Newspapers, 28-Sep-64