Applause for eDiscovery software company iCONECT which has put the JFK Assassination Records online in a form which allows them to be searched and read. There is a page about this here with a request form for linking to the resource.
Alongside my interest in discovery tools and processes, I keep up with academic / history archivists because the same issues occur in both disciplines, from identification and collection through to indexing and to making records searchable and accessible.
The results of journalistic investigation can be processed and made available using the same tools, as the story of the Panama Papers shows.
For an event which lasted seconds, the assassination of President Kennedy generated an enormous volume of documents along with contemporary oral evidence, films and photographs and an inordinate amount of speculation. The first edition of William Manchester’s book The Death of a President ran to 781 pages and even he did not have access to all the information when the book was published in 1967, still less everything which has come after.
The official records have their own act, the JFK Assassination Records Collection Act. Most of the collection has been available to the public since the late 1990s but the National Archives has now released documents previously identified as assassination records, but hitherto withheld in full or in part. 3,810 documents were released in July 2017 and a further 2,891 documents were released last week.
They have aroused considerable interest, and not just from academics and historians. The problem is that they are available as individual PDFs, each of which must be identified from a not-particularly-helpful record designation and then opened individually.
eDiscovery software company iCONECT has converted the PDF files to text and built a search index, together with charts, graphs, quick search folders and word highlight reports for all the records and made them available for 60 days and for free on its iCONECT-XERA platform.
Records can be searched for content or quick-searched by date, document type, agency and the to and from fields. The collection includes audio files, which you can listen to within iCONECT-XERA’s multi-media player.
iCONECT CEO Ian Campbell says “Our software is used daily for data investigations in high-profile legal cases around the world. It’s a perfect solution for academics, independent researchers and those who are simply curious”. Many of those who use this will do so because of their interest in the events of the assassination. Others might usefully have a look either because they want to know how software like this can be used for discovery or because they have other reasons, not necessarily connected with conventional eDiscovery, for wanting to search and access documents of any kind.