Iron Mountain Helps JFK Library Create Online Presidential Archive

BOSTON--()--Beginning today, JFK fans and students of history alike can go online to access the most important papers, photos, films and other records of the 35th President’s time in office thanks to a new online archive that Iron Mountain helped to create. The digital archive at www.jfklibrary.org allows students, teachers, researchers and members of the public to gain an inside look into the life of President Kennedy and the issues that defined his presidency like civil rights, nuclear proliferation, space exploration and more. Launched a week shy of the 50th anniversary of the inauguration of President Kennedy, the archive provides broader access to the Kennedy legacy and helps to preserve sensitive historical records by making digital copies of them.

The digital archive has been four years in the making. The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, a division of the National Archives and Records Administration, and the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, the non-profit that lends the library financial and staffing support, began this massive effort in 2006. Along the way, the organizations enlisted technology support from AT&T, EMC, Iron Mountain and Raytheon and received significant financial support from private donors. To date, the library and its partners have spent countless hours and an estimated $10 million in financial and technology donations to digitize and describe the contents of the archive and bring it to life.

“Protecting information and helping others to access it is a big part of what we do, but it’s not often you work on a project of this scale and historic importance, impacting future generations and students of JFK and history everywhere,” said Bob Brennan, CEO and president of information management company Iron Mountain. “It’s an awesome and humbling experience, and we’re honored to support its development and success.”

To start its online archive, The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library chose to digitize its six, most important collections. These include the President’s White House office files, his personal papers, outgoing letters, and the photos, videos and audio recorded during his time in the White House. More than 200,000 documents, 300 audiotapes, 72 film reels and 1,500 photos from these collections are now available online. The contents here include a veritable highlight reel of Kennedy’s life and presidency. Students, teachers, researchers and members of the public can now go online to see President Kennedy’s inaugural address; or to watch him debate President Nixon; or to hear him challenge America to land first on the moon; and more.

Iron Mountain’s Role

Iron Mountain’s chief role in the project is to provide a safe home for master copies of these electronic files. When project designers for the archive approached Iron Mountain in April 2007, they desired offsite, highly secure data center space as a form of insurance in the event the original records and digital files, stored at the library, were ever lost or damaged.

The library found this home in a sprawling former limestone mine located 200 feet below farms and rolling countryside in Western Pennsylvania. It is the Iron Mountain Underground, a high-security bunker for millions of government records, business documents, historical and pop culture treasures, as well as petabytes of emails, medical images and other digital files.

This 1000-acre facility operates like a city underground, featuring backup power for seven days, its own water treatment plant, two fire trucks and around-the-clock armed security. Stored there are master recordings belonging to Sony Music, including Frank Sinatra’s Night and Day and Elvis Presley’s Nothing but a Hound Dog. The Bill Gates’ Corbis archive is there as is Universal Studios, which uses the facility’s temperature-controlled vaults to protect originals of movies like E.T., Back to the Future and Jaws.

In addition to providing secure data center space and management, Iron Mountain contributed to the project by restoring and digitizing 204 videotapes and 224 audio recordings included in the digital archive.

  • The video includes personal footage of Kennedy family vacations and his wedding; CBS TV coverage of his inauguration and debates with President Nixon; footage filmed by White House communicators; and other official video from U.S. government agencies.
  • The audio captures more than 400 telephone conversations, as well as radio and State of the Union addresses covering the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

Engineers on Iron Mountain’s film and sound team used lint-free cloths and brushes to clean these audio and video recordings. Some of the audio tapes also required “baking,” a process of heating up the media to remove moisture. Once cleaned, Iron Mountain’s technicians made two digital copies of each recording.

For one set of the audio recordings, Iron Mountain digitally enhanced the volume by removing artificial sounds like pops, crackles and hissing. The company also created a set of smaller video files more suitable for watching and streaming over the Internet than the higher-resolution replica copies. Visit here for more on the restoration and digitization project.

About the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is one of 13 presidential libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration and is supported, in part, by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, a non-profit organization. The Kennedy Presidential Library and the Kennedy Library Foundation seek to promote, through educational and community programs, a greater appreciation and understanding of American politics, history, and culture, the process of governing and the importance of public service.

About Iron Mountain

Iron Mountain Incorporated (NYSE: IRM) provides information management services that help organizations lower the costs, risks and inefficiencies of managing their physical and digital data. The company’s solutions enable customers to protect and better use their information—regardless of its format, location or lifecycle stage—so they can optimize their business and ensure proper recovery, compliance and discovery. Founded in 1951, Iron Mountain manages billions of information assets, including business records, electronic files, medical data, emails and more for organizations around the world. Visit www.ironmountain.com or follow the company on Twitter @IronMountain for more information.

Photos/Multimedia Gallery Available: http://www.businesswire.com/cgi-bin/mmg.cgi?eid=6571645&lang=en

Contacts

Media:
Iron Mountain
Dan O’Neill, 617-535-2966
dan.oneill@ironmountain.com
or
Weber Shandwick
Kristen Georgian, 617-520-7042
KGeorgian@webershandwick.com

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An overview of the new JFK Digital Archive and the companies that helped build it. (Video: Business Wire)

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Contacts

Media:
Iron Mountain
Dan O’Neill, 617-535-2966
dan.oneill@ironmountain.com
or
Weber Shandwick
Kristen Georgian, 617-520-7042
KGeorgian@webershandwick.com