Wednesday, May 10, 2017


JFK+50:  Volume 7, No. 2305


Boston, Massachusetts  (JFK+50) John F. Kennedy's alma mater, Harvard University, has just released "the earliest (known) voice recording" of the future 35th POTUS giving a talk in a public speaking class in 1937.

Mr. Kennedy's topic is the appointment of Hugo Black* to the United States Supreme Court by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The recording, just under a minute and half in length, is part of a new exhibit titled "JFK's Harvard/Harvard's JFK".  It is part of the collection of Harvard professor Frederick C. Packard, Jr.**, who made it a practice of recording his students dating back to the 1920s.

David Ackerman, head of media preservation at the Harvard Library, is quoted by Colleen Walsh as saying...

"I was really struck by how recognizable (JFK's) voice was."

The original recording was made on a two sided aluminum disc*** and transferred to an MP3 audio file.  You can access the recording at

*Hugo Lafayette Black (1886-1971) was born in Ashland, AL & graduated from the University of Alabama, U of A School of Law & University of Birmingham Medical School.  HLB, considered one of the most influential justices, served on the US Supreme Court 1937-1971.  He was the 1st of 9 SC appointments by FDR.

**Frederick Clifford Packard, Jr. (1899-1985) was born in Boston & graduated from Latin School & Harvard.  FCP became Harvard's first professor of Public Speaking.  He founded Harvard Vocarium which recorded voices previously unavailable including Robert Frost & Ezra Pound.

***Aluminum discs were made of bare aluminum & used in the 1920s & 1930s to record radio broadcasts for the private transcription disc archive of performers or sponsors.  Most were turned into scrap metal during WWII.


"Frederick Packard, Professor of Speech at Harvard University, Dies," June 27, 1985, The New York Times.

"JFK speaks from his Harvard past," by Colleen Walsh, Harvard Gazette, May 9, 2017.

"The Packard Collection:  New Initiative to Chronicle and Preserve the Words of a Harvard Recording Pioneer," September 13, 2015, Stylus,

Justice Hugo Black
Portrait by John Black from 
a print by Yousuf Karsh
Supreme Court Historical Society