Digital Curation Services, part of the University of Virginia Library, will be “live-tweeting” a transcript of the broadcast wire from a United Press International teletype machine in Jacksonville Florida chronicling the shooting and death of President John F. Kennedy, November 22, 1963.
The Reporting came from Merriman Smith, the UPI White House reporter and dean of the White House Press Corps, who was in the front seat of the wire service pool car just behind the President’s convertible.
The tweets will begin at 1:45 PM EST on November 22nd and continue until 6:30 PM.
Follow @UVaDigServ, #JFK50 on Twitter to make sure you don’t miss it!
For more information, please contact Bradley Daigle, Director of Digital Curation Services, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please be aware that some descriptions of the shooting and aftermath are graphic.
View the broadcast in its entirety here: Library.virginia.edu/JFK
To read more about the UVa Library’s copy of the UPI teletype, go to the Special Collections blog, Notes from Under Grounds.
Broadcast wire teletype chronicles events of November 22nd, 1963.
Our Process for Live Tweeting the Broadcast Wire:
The first order of business was scanning the teletype. Images below are of the printout rolled up, as it lives in Special Collections’ stacks, and then unrolled and being scanned on our Cruse scanner. At over 30 feet long, the teletype had to be scanned in five separate sections and then digitally stitched together to create the continuous image you see at http://static.lib.virginia.edu/JFK/.
The teletype printout of the UPI broadcast wire from Jacksonville, Florida, from just before the first report of Kennedy’s shooting to the end of the day. (MSS 15678, Gift of Randolph Pendleton. Photo by Molly Schwartzburg)
One section of the teletype being scanned on Digitization Services’ Cruse scanner. (MSS 15678, Gift of Randolph Pendleton.)
After scanning, we sent the images to a vendor for keyboarding, receiving a TEI file of marked-up text.
To prepare the text for tweeting, we stripped the markup, leaving plain text, and created a CSV file matching each line of the report up with its associated timestamp (such as HR1240PCS11/22). We then split all lines that were over 120 characters long. Although Twitter allows 140 characters, we wanted to leave room for hashtags (#JFK50 and #UVA) as well as links back to the teletype image.
View of the teletype as a CSV file
Once we had our CSV ready, we created a Ruby program to work with Twitter’s API to automate the tweets. If you’re curious, you can check out our code on our GitHub repository: https://github.com/uvalib-dcs/jfk50
While testing our tweets, we ran into an unexpected problem – Twitter limits the number of tweets coming from one account both per hour as well as per day. We had originally hoped to tweet the entire broadcast just as it would have been received 50 years ago, but because of these limits the tweets that go out on Friday will be curated; in some cases combining lines, and in others omitting duplicative information and unrelated stocks, weather, and local news reports. However, links will be provided so that our followers can go directly to any tweet’s location on the teletype image to be sure that they’re not missing anything.
Be sure to follow along on Twitter November 22nd, starting at 1:45 PM EST at @UVaDigServ!