December 2, 2010
[Editor’s Note: Photos, documents and related materials available by request.]
A collection of John F. Kennedy memorabilia is set to go to auction soon in Los Angeles, including the casket of his alleged assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, and his arrest documents.
Conspiracy theorists who cannot afford to bid on this treasure trove can instead dig through documents available at Texas Tech University’s Southwest Collection and Special Collections Library.
“We have copies of depositions taken by the Dallas Police Department and Dallas County Sheriff’s Department for everybody in Dealey Plaza that day, as well as for Lee Harvey Oswald, his wife Marina, and Oswald’s assassin, Jack Ruby,” said archivist Monte Monroe.
This collection belonged to Texas Tech alumnus and former regent Waggoner Carr, who was elected Texas Attorney General in 1963. On the morning of Nov. 22, he and his wife dined with President John F. Kennedy and the first lady in Fort Worth.
Carr had accompanied the presidential motorcade from Houston, but due to a speaking engagement in the Texas Panhandle, he was unable to attend the parade through Dealey Plaza. As the two men said their goodbyes, Kennedy expressed gratitude for all the hard work Texans had done for the Democratic Party. He thanked Carr for a pleasant visit and said he looked forward to seeing Carr again when he rejoined the tour that evening in Austin.
Robert Carr, of Lubbock, said his brother learned of a shooting incident while his plane was still in the air. It was not until he landed however, that he found out President Kennedy was dead. Waggoner Carr had only shaken hands with President Kennedy about 45 minutes before his assassination.
Because Kennedy’s murder fell under the jurisdiction of Texas, Carr was the man to release the President’s body, and he was also the man to launch the initial investigation. The probe quickly escalated to the federal level; and from that point forward, Carr worked closely with the Warren Commission appointed by Kennedy’s successor, President Lyndon B. Johnson.
The final 888-page report was submitted ten months later and concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. The findings have since proven controversial, but despite conspiracy theories, Carr always maintained that the state-federal probe was thorough, professional and an overall success. He insisted that both teams worked very well together.
“He worked hand-in-glove with the Warren Commission, and because of his close involvement and the fact that he was privy to all evidence,” Monroe said. “He contended to the end of his life that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone assassin.”
In 1967, Carr sent copies of his material, which comprised about 2,500 items, to Texas Tech. An even larger donation of his personal and political papers followed in 1988.
Waggoner Carr also wrote a letter to his brother Robert in 1995, where he refuted four popular rumors - including a conversation depicted in the movie, “JFK”.
Monroe was the last person to interview Carr before his death in 2004, and believes the Waggoner Carr Papers are as valuable as those housed in the Federal Government Archives or the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza.
“The Waggoner Carr Papers are a key resource for anyone doing research into the Kennedy Assassination. We are extremely proud to have them.”