The shots that killed President John F. Kennedy in November 1963 were fired from the sixth floor of a nondescript warehouse at the edge of Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas. That floor in the former Texas School Book Depository became a museum in 1989 and was designated part of a National Historic Landmark District in 1993.The slow and painful process by which a city and a nation came to terms with its collective memory of the assassination and would eventually create The Sixth Floor Museum is recounted by associate curator Stephen Fagin in Assassination and Commemoration: JFK, Dallas, and The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza (University of Oklahoma Press, July 2013, $29.95, HARDCOVER, ISBN: 978-0-8061-4358-3). The book is now available from online booksellers, in bookstores and directly from University of Oklahoma Press. Copies signed by the author are available from the museum’s retail store and online outlet. An e-book version will be available later.
Like the museum itself, Fagin’s book both carefully studies a community’s confrontation with tragedy and explores the ways we preserve the past. Fagin begins Assassination and Commemoration by retracing the events that culminated in Lee Harvey Oswald’s shots at the presidential motorcade. He vividly describes the volatile political climate of midcentury Dallas, as well as the shame that haunted the city for decades after the assassination. Fagin narrates the painstaking day-to-day work of cultivating the support of influential citizens and convincing boards and committees of the importance of preservation and interpretation.
Today, The Sixth Floor Museum helps visitors interpret the Depository and Dealey Plaza as sacred ground and a monument to an unforgettable American tragedy. One of the most popular historic sites in Texas, it is a place of quiet reflection, of edification for older Americans who remember the Kennedy years, and of education for the large and growing number of younger visitors unfamiliar with the events the museum commemorates.
Fagin, who joined The Sixth Floor Museum in 2000, also manages the institution’s ongoing Oral History Project and contributes to collections, exhibitions, education and programming initiatives. In addition to Assassination and Commemoration, he has also authored an American History magazine biography of Lee Harvey Oswald. Fagin holds degrees from Southern Methodist University and the University of Oklahoma.
The Sixth Floor Museum is located at 411 Elm Street in Dallas’ West End District. For more information, go to www.jfk.org or call 214.747.6660.
About The Sixth Floor Museum
The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza chronicles the assassination and legacy of President John F. Kennedy; interprets the Dealey Plaza National Historic Landmark District and the John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza; and presents contemporary culture within the context of presidential history. Located at 411 Elm Street in downtown Dallas, the Museum is open Monday 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Tuesday – Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Audio guides for the permanent exhibit are included with admission and available in English, Spanish and a Family version (English only). For more information, visit www.jfk.org or call 214.747.6660.