Harvard archivists uncover recording of JFK as a 20-year-old

A new audio file featuring the voice of John F. Kennedy as a 20-year-old has been released by archivists at Harvard University.

The 1937 recording of an early JFK speech is the oldest ever to be uncovered, the Harvard Gazette reported.

In the nearly minute and a half long clip, a college-aged Kennedy delivers a speech about Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black as part of a public speaking course at Harvard.

FDR-appointed Black was confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice before his ties to the Ku Klux Klan were uncovered.

Black “secretly took an oath of office” before going to Europe. “Why should he have taken this oath this way?” Kennedy says in the clip.

The controversy was largely inconsequential, and Black served in the court until his death in 1971.

B/W ONLY - A JAN. 20, 1961, FILE PHOTO

Kennedy chose to deliver a political message as part of a public speaking course at Harvard. He addressed the controversial appointment of Hugo Black to the Supreme Court.


While Kennedy chose to deliver a political message, his classmates chose to discuss more mundane topics, including book collecting, sourdough, and how to find a wife, David Ackerman, hed of media preservation services at the Harvard Library told the news outlet.

The rare recording of the future president is part of the new “JFK’s Harvard/ Harvard’s JFK” exhibit at the Harvard University Archives.

“As far as we know, this is the earliest known recording of his voice in a research collection,” archivist Megan Sniffin-Marinoff told the Gazette.

The second oldest known recording of Kennedy, a radio interview, dates back to 1940, and belongs to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston.

Harvard University

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