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November 13, 2013

An eye for history

Archivist opens window on JFK assassination photos

(Continued)

Trask thought his first book would be the end of the topic for him. But as new information came to light, he followed up in 1998 with a book called “That Day in Dallas,” which takes a look at the work of three professional photographers.

He followed that in 2005 with “National Nightmare on Six Feet of Film,” an examination of the famous home movie shot by Abraham Zapruder, the most dramatic, iconic and graphic image of the assassination.

“Three other films show it, but they don’t show it as dramatically as that one does,” Trask said.

Nothing in his research bolsters any of the conspiracy theories, he said.

“Not to say there wasn’t,” Trask said. “You know, I can’t say there wasn’t a conspiracy, and I can’t say there wasn’t someone else there that day. But I am pretty sure that the only shots that were fired came from the sixth floor of the School Book Depository on the end.”

Zapruder, of course, was not the only person in and around Dealey Plaza wielding a camera that day; there were 45 to 50 other people taking photos, said Trask, and he wound up tracking many of them down. (Zapruder died before Trask began his serious research.)

Some of those interviewed were photojournalists, working for the Associated Press, United Press International or other newspapers. Some were White House photographers. Others were amateurs. Some toted box cameras. One woman wielded a Polaroid. Some had “fairly good Nikon cameras.” Some had movie cameras.

While many of the films and photos of the Kennedy assassination can be found on the Internet, it took Trask years to unearth the pictures in his first book. Many photographers were reluctant to speak, he remembered; some thought they were in danger, or were tired of the criticism. Many of the photographers that day, even professional ones, had never been interviewed, not even for the exhaustive Warren Commission report.

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