, Salem, MA

Local News

November 13, 2013

An eye for history

Archivist opens window on JFK assassination photos


So how did Trask come to study the assassination so intimately?

In high school, Trask was fascinated by the Lincoln assassination. The day Kennedy was shot, Trask was a 16-year-old student at Danvers High, an impressionable teenager who loved history. He had received a facsimile autograph of the president from the White House two days before the assassination.

When a relative gave him $100, Trask used most of it to buy all 26 volumes of the Warren Commission report. Trask found the names and addresses of those deposed in it, and he began writing to them, including Zapruder, asking for a signature or a statement. He got about 110 letters back.

As he went through school, first as an undergraduate at Salem State and later as a graduate student at Northeastern University, he read all the Kennedy books and came to feel that “Kennedy had been killed by a vast conspiracy.” His feelings changed through his research.

Around 1985, he began to delve into the photographic record of the assassination, and it became “almost an obsession.”

“I thought, I don’t smoke, so this is my way of spending money on a vice — because I spent a real lot of money on this,” he said. He and his wife have self-published his books so he can maintain control of the material and keep the books in print, he said.

Trask said talk about the Kennedy assassination is “going to continue forever. It’s going to be like the Lincoln assassination or the Titanic or the Alamo. It’s one of those subjects in history ... that is controversial, it’s sensational, and there is a who-done-it to it, as well.”

Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.

IF YOU GO What: Richard Trask discusses photographic evidence in the JFK assassination When: Thursday, Nov. 14, 7 p.m. Where: Danvers Historical Society, 13 Page St., Danvers Admission: $5; free for members of the Danvers Historical Society

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