President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed the President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, commonly called the Warren Commission, by Executive Order (E.O. 11130) on November 29, 1963. Its purpose was to investigate the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy on November 22, 1963, at Dallas, Texas. President Johnson directed the Commission to evaluate matters relating to the assassination and the subsequent killing of the alleged assassin, and to report its findings and conclusions to him.
The following members served on the Commission:
Earl Warren, Chief Justice of the United States, former Governor and attorney general of California, Chair;
Richard B. Russell, Democratic Senator from Georgia and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, former Governor of Georgia, and county attorney in that State;
John Sherman Cooper, Republican Senator from Kentucky, former county and circuit judge in Kentucky, and United States Ambassador to India;
Hale Boggs, Democratic Representative from Louisiana and majority whip in the House of Representatives;
Gerald R. Ford, Republican Representative from Michigan and chairman of the House Republican Conference;
Allen W. Dulles, lawyer and former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency;
John J. McCloy, lawyer, former President of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and former United States High Commissioner for Germany.
On December 13, 1963, Congress passed Senate Joint Resolution 137 (Public Law 88-202) authorizing the Commission to subpoena witnesses and obtain evidence concerning any matter relating to the investigation. The resolution also gave the Commission the power to compel the testimony of witnesses by granting immunity from prosecution to witnesses testifying under compulsion. The Commission, however, did not grant immunity to any witness during the investigation.
The Commission acted promptly to obtain a staff to meet its needs. J. Lee Rankin, former Solicitor General of the United States, was sworn in as general counsel for the Commission on December 16, 1963. He was aided in his work by 14 assistant counsels who were divided into teams to deal with the various subject areas of the investigation. The Commission was also assisted by lawyers, Internal Revenue Service agents, a senior historian, an editor, and secretarial and administrative personnel who were assigned to the Commission by Federal agencies at its request. Officials and agencies of the state of Texas, as well as of the Federal Government, cooperated with the Commission on its work.
The Commission reviewed reports by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Secret Service, Department of State, and the Attorney General of Texas, and then requested additional information from federal agencies, Congressional committees, and state and local experts. The Commission held hearings and took the testimony of 552 witnesses. On several occasions, the Commission went to Dallas to visit the scene of the assassination and other places.
The Commission presented its Report, in which each member concurred, to President Johnson on September 24, 1964. The publication of the Report was soon followed by the publication of the 26 volumes of the Commission's Hearings. The Commission then transferred its records to the National Archives to be permanently preserved under the rules and regulations of the National Archives and applicable federal law.
The Commission concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in killing Kennedy and wounding Texas Governor John Connally and that Jack Ruby also acted alone when he killed Oswald a few days later.
In 1978 the United States House of Representatives Select Committee on Assassinations released its report. The report made conclusions about the work of the President's Commission on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy (Warren Commission). It reported that it found that: The Warren Commission performed with varying degrees of competency in the fulfillment of its duties. The Warren Commission conducted a thorough and professional investigation into the responsibility of Lee Harvey Oswald for the assassination. The Warren Commission failed to investigate adequately the possibility of a conspiracy to assassinate the President. This deficiency was attributable in part to the failure of the Commission to receive all the relevant information that was in the possession of other agencies and departments of the Government. The Warren Commission arrived at its conclusions, based on the evidence available to it, in good faith. The Warren Commission presented the conclusions in its report in a fashion that was too definitive.
Source: National Archives and Records Administration
Scope and Content
The main report is 912 pages in a single volume. The following 26 volumes are, Volumes 1 to 5, hearings conducted by the Warren Commission in Washington DC. Volumes 6 to 15, hearings conducted by staff attorneys on location in Dallas, New Orleans, and other locations. Volume 15 contains an index to names and the exhibits. Volumes 16 to 26 contain photographed Commission Exhibits.
The main report, "The Report of the President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy," contents are:
Title Page, Commission Members, Transmittal Letter
Chapter 1: Summary and Conclusions
Chapter 2: The Assassination
Chapter 3: The Shots from the Texas School Book Depository
Chapter 4: The Assassin
Chapter 5: Detention and Death of Oswald
Chapter 6: Investigation of Possible Conspiracy
Chapter 7: Lee Harvey Oswald: Background and Possible Motives
Chapter 8: The Protection of the President
Appendix 1: Press Release Announcing Appointment of Commission
Appendix 2: Press Release Announcing Appointment of Commission
Appendix 3: Pub. Law 88-202
Appendix 4: Biographical Information and Acknowledgments
Appendix 5: List of Witnesses
Appendix 6: Commission Procedures for the Taking of Testimony
Appendix 7: A Brief History of Presidential Protection
Appendix 8: Medical Reports from Doctors at Parkland Memorial Hospital, Dallas, Tex.
Appendix 9: Autopsy Report and Supplemental Report
Appendix 10: Expert Testimony
Appendix 11: Reports Relating to the Interrogation of Lee Harvey Oswald at the Dallas Police Department
Appendix 12: Speculations and Rumors
Appendix 13: Biography of Lee Harvey Oswald
Appendix 14: Analysis of Lee Harvey Oswald's Finances from June 13, 1962, through November 22, 1963
Appendix 15: Transactions between Lee Harvey Oswald and Marina Oswald, and the U.S. Department of State and the Immigration and Naturalization Service of the U.S. Department of Justice
Appendix 16: A Biography of Jack Ruby
Appendix 17: Polygraph Examination of Jack Ruby
Appendix 18: Footnotes
The additional volumes include:
Warren Commission Hearings
Volume I - Contains testimony of the following witnesses: Mrs. Marina Oswald, the widow of Lee Harvey Oswald; Mrs. Marguerite Oswald, Oswald's mother; Robert Edward Lee Oswald, Oswald's brother; and James Herbert Martin, who acted for a brief period as Mrs. Marina Oswald's business manager.
Volume II - Contains testimony of the following witnesses: James Herbert Martin, who acted for a brief period as the business manager of Mrs. Marina Oswald; Mark Lane, a New York attorney; William Robert Greer, who was driving the President's car at the time of the assassination; and others.
Volume III - Contains testimony of the following witnesses: Ruth Hyde Paine, an acquaintance of Lee Harvey Oswald and his wife; Howard Leslie Brennan, who was present at the assassination scene; Bonnie Ray Williams, Harold Norman, James Jarman, Jr., and others.
Volume IV - Contains testimony of the following witnesses: Sebastian F. Latona, a fingerprint expert with the Federal Bureau of Investigation ; Arthur Mandella, a fingerprint expert with the New York City Police Department; Winston G. Lawson, a Secret Service agent who worked on advance preparations for the President's trip to Dallas; Alwyn Cole, a questioned document examiner with the Treasury Department; and John W. Fain, John Lester Quigley, and James Patrick Hosty, Jr., agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation who interviewed Oswald, or people connected with him, at various times during the period between Oswald's return from Russia in 1962 and the assassination; and others.
Volume V - Contains testimony of the following witnesses: Alan H. Belmont, assistant to the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Jack Revill and V. J. Brian of the Dallas police, who testified concerning conversations Revill had with James Patrick Hosty, Jr., a special agent of the FBI; Robert A. Frazier, a firearms expert with the FBI ; Drs. Alfred Olivier, Arthur Dziemian and Frederick W. Light, Jr., wound ballistics experts with the U.S. Army laboratories at Edgewood Arsenal, Md.; J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and others.
Volume VI - Contains testimony of the following witnesses: Drs. Charles J. Carrico, Malcolm Oliver Perry, William Kemp Clark, Robert Nelson McClelland, Charles Rufus Baxter, Marion Thomas Jenkins, Ronald Coy Jones, Don Teel Curtis, Fouad A. Bashour, Gene Coleman Akin, Paul Conrad Peters, Adolph Hartung Giesecke, Jr., Jackie Hansen Hunt, Kenneth Everett Salyer, and Martin G. White, who attended President Kennedy at Parkland Hospital; and others.
Volume VII - Contains testimony of the following witnesses: Drs. Charles J. Carrico, Malcolm Oliver Perry, William Kemp Clark, Robert Nelson McClelland, Charles Rufus Baxter, Marion Thomas Jenkins, Ronald Coy Jones, Don Teel Curtis, Fouad A. Bashour; and others.
Volume VIII - Contains testimony of the following witnesses: Edward Voebel, William E. Wulf, Bennierita Smith, Frederick S. O'Sullivan, Mildred Sawyer, Anne Boudreaux, Viola Peterman, Myrtle Evans, Julian Evans, Philip Eugene Vinson, and Hiram Conway, who were associated with Lee Harvey Oswald in his youth; Lillian Murret, Marilyn Dorothea Murret, Charles Murret, John M. Murret, and Edward John Pic, Jr., who were related to Oswald; and others.
Volume IX - Contains testimony of the following witnesses: Paul M. Raigorodsky, Natalie Ray, Thomas M. Ray, Samuel B. Ballen, Lydia Dymitruk, Gary E. Taylor, Ilya A. Mamantov, Dorothy Gravitis, Paul Roderick Gregory, Helen Leslie, George S. De Mohrenschildt, Jeanne De Mohrenschildt and Ruth Hyde Paine, all of whom became acquainted with Lee Harvey Oswald and/or his wife after their return to Texas in 1962; and others.
Volume X - Contains testimony of the following witnesses: Everett D. Glover, who became acquainted with Lee Harvey Oswald following his return to Texas in 1962; Carlos Bringuier, Francis L. Martello, Charles Hall Steele, Jr., Charles Hall Steele, Sr., Philip Geraci III, Vance Blalock, Vincent T. Lee, Arnold Samuel Johnson, James J. Tormey, Farrell Dobbs, and John J. Abt, who testified concerning Oswald's political activities and associations; and others.
Volume XI - Contains testimony of the following witnesses: John Edward Pic, Lee Harvey Oswald's half brother; Edward John Pic, Jr., John Edward Pic's father; Kerry Wendell Thornley, a Marine Corps acquaintance of Oswald George B. Church, Jr., Mrs. George B. Church, Jr., and Billy Joe Lord, who were on the boat Oswald took when he left the United States for Russia; and others.
Volume XII - Contains testimony of the following witnesses: Dallas law enforcement officers who were responsible for planning and executing the transfer of Lee Harvey Oswald from the Dallas City Jail to the Dallas County Jail; and Don Ray Archer, Barnard S. Clardy, and Patrick Trevore Dean, who participated in the arrest and questioning of Jack L. Ruby; and others.
Volume XIII - Contains testimony of the following witnesses: L. C. Graves, James Robert Leavelle, L. D. Montgomery. Thomas Donald McMillon, and Forrest V. Sorrels, who participated in the arrest and questioning of Jack L. Ruby; Dr. Fred A. Bieberdorf, Frances Cason, Michael Hardin, and C. E. Hulse, who testified concerning the time at which Lee Harvey Oswald was shot; and others.
Volume XIV - Contains testimony of the following witnesses: Curtis LaVerne Crafard, Wilbyrn Waldon (Robert) Litchfield II, Robert Carl Patterson, Alice Reaves Nichols, Ralph Paul, George Senator, Nancy Perrin Rich, Breck Wall (Billy Ray Wilson), Joseph Alexander Peterson, Harry N. Olsen, and Kay Helen Olsen, all of whom were friends, acquaintances, employees, or business associates of Jack L. Ruby; Earl Ruby and Sam Ruby, two of Ruby's brothers, and Mrs. Eva Grant, one of his sisters; Jack L. Ruby; Dr. William Robert Beavers, a psychiatrist who examined Ruby; and Bell P. Herndon, an FBI polygraph expert who administered a polygraph test to Ruby.
Volume XV - Contains testimony of the following witnesses: Hyman Rubenstein, a brother of Jack L. Ruby; Glen D. King, administrative assistant to the chief of the Dallas police; C. Ray Hall, an FBI agent who interviewed Ruby; Charles Batchelor, assistant chief of the Dallas police; Jesse E. Curry, chief of the Dallas police; M. W. Stevenson, deputy chief of the Dallas police; and others. Also includes an index to Volumes I - XV.
Volumes XVI—XXVI - These volumes contain reproductions of exhibits received into evidence by the Commission. The exhibits received in connection with testimony before the Commission are printed first, arranged in numerical order from 1 to 1053. Next are printed exhibits received in connection with depositions or affidavits, arranged alphabetically by name of witness, and then numerically— e.g., Adams Exhibits Nos. 1-, Baker Exhibits Nos. 1-22. Finally, are printed other materials relied upon by the Commission, consisting principally of investigative reports by law enforcement agencies, arranged in numerical order beginning with 1054. Each volume begins with a table of contents—a descriptive listing of the exhibits in the volume and the page or pages on which each exhibit is printed.
The numbering of the exhibits received in testimony before the Commission is not completely consecutive; the unused numbers are noted in the table of contents. Also, various systems of designation were used in connection with deposition and affidavit exhibits, so that the designation of some of these exhibits begins either with a letter or a number higher than 1—e.g., Jones Exhibits A-C, Smith Exhibits Nos. 5000-5006.
Almost all the reproductions contained in the exhibit volumes consist of photographs of the exhibits. The legibility of many documentary exhibits is poor, because some exhibits were copies rather than originals and many others were discolored when tested for fingerprints. In some cases where legibility was particularly bad, the contents of the document have been typed out, and reproduced together with a miniature photograph of the exhibit. A few exhibits of negligible relevance were not reproduced because of their length or for reasons of taste. The omissions are described in the tables of contents. In a very small number of cases, names, dates, or numbers have been deleted from exhibits for security reasons or for the protection of named individuals.
Volume XVI - Exhibits 1 to 391
Volume XVII - Exhibits 329 to 884
Volume XVIII - Exhibits 885 to 1053
Volume XIX - Exhibits Allen to Fuqua
Volume XX - Exhibits Gallagher to Oliver
Volume XXI - Exhibits Paine to Yarborough
Volume XXII - Exhibits 1054 to 1512
Volume XXIII - Exhibits 1513 to 1975
Volume XXIV - Exhibits 1976 to 2189
Volume XXV - Exhibits 2190 to 2651
Volume XXVI - Exhibits 2652 to 3154