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November 13, 2013

An eye for history

Archivist opens window on JFK assassination photos

DANVERS — Vincent Bugliosi’s 2007 book “Reclaiming History” aims to debunk the conspiracy theories behind the John F. Kennedy assassination.

One of the experts he cites is Danvers town archivist Richard Trask, whom he calls “the leading authority on photographic evidence in the Kennedy assassination.”

While Trask is well-known as an expert on Danvers history and the witch hysteria of 1692, few are aware that he is the author of three books, all self-published, tracing the films and photos taken in and around the Texas School Book Depository and Dealey Plaza in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963.

Now, with the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination fast approaching, the soft-spoken Trask plans to give his one and only public talk about his research tomorrow at the Danvers Historical Society.

Trask, who serves as a trustee of the society, will talk about his experience researching his books and bring some artifacts he has collected over the years.

While he has never given a public talk about his research, Trask said he spent an afternoon in the late 1990s talking with former CBS news anchor Dan Rather, when a new set of films came out that showed Dealey Plaza just after the assassination in 1963. He has been interviewed on national television and appeared in several documentaries.

Trask spent a decade researching his first book, “Pictures of the Pain: Photography and the Assassination of President Kennedy,” published in 1994. The book traces the stories of those who filmed or photographed the assassination and the moments after, along with their personal reflections. Most of the pictures in the book had never been published before. During his years of research, Trask has acquired the rights to many of the images of that day in Dallas.

Researching the subject was not easy. Trask said he has filed scores of Freedom of Information Act requests with the FBI and conducted just as many interviews in person and by phone. He made three trips to Dallas and eventually got to know some of the photographers personally.

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