JFK never got to visit his presidential library. But that doesn’t mean he hadn’t given the topic some thought.

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What the JFK Library looks like today on its eventual site on Columbia Point. © David Coleman.

Most modern presidents have had a say in where their presidential library is located. Designed to house the papers of the President and White House staff and controlled by the National Archives, these institutions become invaluable resources for presidential historians.

But there’s no firm rule on where they should be located. Ties to a local area help, not the least for fundraising — presidential libraries are expensive to create.

Birthplaces and childhood homes are popular. Dwight Eisenhower’s Library envelopes his farmhouse boyhood home in Abilene, Kansas. Richard Nixon’s surrounds the house where he was born and grew up in Yorba Linda, California. But Barack Obama’s presidential library is planned for Chicago, a place he spent much of his adult life but not childhood. …

In a discussion caught on his secretly recorded White House tapes, President Kennedy thinks through the problem of what kind of Soviet military presence in Cuba the United States could and could not live with.

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This surveillance photo from a low-level surveillance flight over a Soviet military camp at Remedios on October 25, 2962, was one of the first to show one of the four combat regiments in Cuba, including their FROG nuclear-capable battlefield rockets. Department of Defense/JFK Library.

The Cuban Missile Crisis ostensibly ended on October 28, 1962. On that day, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev agreed to remove the missiles from Cuba.

But the missiles and other military equipment and troops didn’t magically disappear from the island that day. For weeks, and even months, there was still a formidable Soviet military presence in Cuba that included long-range nuclear bombers, several types of shorter-range missiles (some of which were nuclear-capable), and a sophisticated air defense system, advanced MiG-21 fighter jets, along with tanks, artillery, armored personnel carriers, and other equipment related to the deployment. …


David Coleman

Author of The Fourteenth Day and editor of The Presidential Recordings: John F. Kennedy, vols 4–6. Senior Research Fellow at the National Security Archive.

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