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Robert F. Kennedy assassination archives collection

Identifier: MC-001

Scope and Contents

The RFKAA includes correspondence, copies of government and legal documents, audiotapes, videotapes, notebooks, photographs, magazine and newsclippings, reports and books published about Robert F. Kennedy and his assassination. The collection is divided into 6 series, I through VI, with 10 item- and file-level indexes. The series are arranged in order of the sequence of the case, and most files within the series are arranged alphabetically, except for the court documents and the newsclippings files, which are arranged chronologically. The entire collection totals 155 boxes/books and 45 published books. See the book and box list following the series descriptions for an inventory or the contents of the collection. The inventory should be supplemented with the appropriate RFKAA Index.

*The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth was then known as Southeastern Massachusetts University, and the University Library was then known as the Library Communications Center.


  • 1968-


Conditions Governing Access

no known restrictions.

Biographical / Historical

New York Senator Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated just after midnight, on June 5, 1968, in the kitchen pantry of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California, immediately after delivering a Presidential primary victory speech in the hotel ballroom on the night of June 4. Sirhan Bishara Sirhan, a Palestinian immigrant, was immediately apprehended at the scene. The case was investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department Detective Squad, and the FBI Los Angeles Field Office. Sirhan Sirhan went to trial in January 1969 and was convicted on April 17, 1969.

The Robert F. Kennedy Assassination Archive (RFKAA) at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, dedicated April 20, 1988, was assembled by author and professor of Political Science Philip Melanson and the RFKAA Committee of the University Library* Original materials, including research files, audiotape interviews, videotapes and newsclippings were donated in several installments beginning in 1984, by a number of private individuals investigating discrepancies in the case. These individuals were among the first to question the Los Angeles Police Department, the FBI and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s handling of the case. They include journalist Robert Blair Kaiser, members of the Assassination Truth Committee Lillian Castellano and Floyd Nelson, investigators Gregory Stone, and Philip Melanson. To this core collection were added thousands of pages of FBI documents, released by the Freedom of Information Act to the University, between 1984 and 1986. This group comprises a copy of the complete FBI Los Angeles Field and Sub files produced during the investigation, including witness interviews and interdepartmental communications. After repeated requests citing the California Public Records Act and pressure from the public, the Los Angeles Police Department finally released its files for public inspection in 1987. The original records were first deposited in the Los Angeles City Archives, where the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth obtained copies of many audiotapes, the “Summary Report” and copies of numerous investigative files produced by the Los Angeles Police Department. The California State Archives was chosen as the permanent home for the records of the investigation in 1987, and a microfilm copy of the collection was obtained for the RFKAA soon thereafter. The collection also includes a complete copy of all transcripts for Sirhan Sirhan’s court trial, hearings and appeals to the Los Angeles County Superior and Supreme Courts, the Kranz Report and selected minutes of the House Select Committee on Assassinations. Correspondence relating to the establishment of the RFK Assassination Archives can be found in J-K3 of the University records (not RFKAA). This file was supplemented in February 1996 by correspondence copied from the files of Janet Freedman, Dean of the Library, 1978-1995. The 1992 request to the Los Angeles County Grand Jury to re-open the case (books 153-155) is an excellent source for a summary of the assassination, its investigation and subsequent problems and questions left unanswered.


64.7 Linear Feet (155 boxes)

Language of Materials


Physical Location

Claire T. Carney Library Archives and Special Collections, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, 285 Old Westport Road, N. Dartmouth, MA 02747.

Processing Information

The collection was reorganized by University Archivist Judy Farrar, with the assistance of Doria Alfiero and Jennifer Walsh, August-September, 1996. Finding Aid by Judy Farrar, September 1996. The original “cataloguing scheme,” A-P was not retained, however, these designations are still apparent on many file labels.

Robert F. Kennedy assassination archives collection
Judy Farrar
September 17, 2015
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Claire T. Carney Library Archives and Special Collections, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Repository

285 Old Westport Rd.
N. Dartmouth MA 02747 USA