Dick Russell Papers

Finding Aid | PDF

Dick Russell was born on August 19, 1947, in Boston, Massachusetts. Upon graduating in 1969 from the University of Kansas with a B.A. in Humanities, he pursued a career as a writer and journalist. He briefly wrote for Sports Illustrated (1969-1970) before joining the staff of the TV Guide in their Hollywood Bureau (1977-1979).

Russell became strongly interested in studying the assassination of President John F. Kennedy; after 17 years of research, Russell published The Man Who Knew Too Muchin 1992. The book argued that an anti-Castro group financed the assassination of President Kennedy; the conspirators hoped that by setting up Lee Harvey Oswald, a known supporter of Castro, they could provoke a full-scale war with Cuba. Russell followed this successful book with the publication of On the Trail of the JFK Assassins in 2008.

In addition to his Kennedy assassination writings, Russell also wrote a wide variety of free-lance articles, which appeared in newspapers as diverse as Family Health, Village Voice, The Nation, and Parenting. A large number of these articles dealt with environmental issues, which led to Russell’s involvement as the Contributing Editor of OnEarth (formerly Amicus Journal) from 1986 to 2004. As an active member of both the Society of Environmental Journalists and PEN USADLas well as an avid sport fishermanDLRussell spent three years lobbying for regulations to protect Atlantic striped bass. In recognition of his efforts, Russell received the National Coalition for Marine Conservation’s Golden Swordfish Award (1984) and the Chevron Conservation Award (1988).

Dick Russell supplemented his environmental endeavors and assassination research with a prolific writing career, authoring 13 books, including Black Genius and the American Experience (1998), Eye of the Whale (2001), Striper Wars: An American Fish Story (2005), and Horsemen of the Apocalypse: The Men Who Are Destroying Life on Earth―And What It Means for Our Children (2017). Russell also co-authored Don’t Start the Revolution Without Me (2008) with Jesse Ventura. He appeared as a guest on national television and radio programs, including NBC Nightly News and Good Morning America, and has guest lectured at numerous institutions, including Harvard, the National Arts Club, and the University of California.

Dick Russell is married and has one child. Though he has traveled widely in Europe, Africa, North America, and Asia, he currently resides in Los Angeles and Boston.

The Collection

This collection consists of manuscripts, research materials, and articles collected by Dick Russell, most of which pertain to the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Although Russell had a long and successful career as an environmental journalist, the materials in the Dick Russell papers focus on his Kennedy assassination research. The content ranges from exclusive interviews and copious notes to collections of speculative articles. The records in the collection are from 1924-2011 with the bulk of the material spanning the years 1959-2011.

The large The Man Who Knew Too Much (TMWKTM) series contains years of extensive research files and drafts for Russell’s popular history of the John F. Kennedy assassination, published in 1992. The research files are arranged alphabetically with the draft manuscripts separated by year from the rest of the series. The small set of files for the Coalition on Political Assassinations includes financial reports and conference information from 1994-1995. Additional JFK Research materials are located under the short JFK Research series; most of this information was compiled in the 1990s or early 2000s, after the publication of TMWKTM.

The bulk of the material is located in the aforementioned TMWKTM series and in the Subject Files series, which is arranged alphabetically and contains research that pertains tangentially to the Kennedy assassination in addition to disparate historical topics ranging from Early American History to Watergate. Most subjects deal with scandal, assassinations, or times of turmoil, usually in the context of government or politics. The last portion of the collection is contained in the Unpublished Book Projects series, which includes drafts of two unfinished book projects entitled “The Assassination Records Review Board” and “Closing In.”

The collection consists of 56 document boxes measuring 23.35 linear feet.