In the summer of 1962, upon the request of President Kennedy, recording devices were installed at several locations in the White House. A Dictaphone was also hooked up to a telephone in the Oval Office. Known only to the President, his secretary, Robert Kennedy, and the technicians who installed them, these secret devices could be activated upon the President’s push of a button. The tapes were likely intended to be used later for a memoir. Here you will find many of these recordings of telephone conversations and meetings that took place during the Cuban Missile Crisis, providing valuable insights about decision-making in the White House.

Click here for a list of telephone recordings and radio/television addresses.

Click here for a list of recordings from meetings.

I. Telephone Recordings and Radio/Television Addresses

October 19, 1962

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Curtis LeMay to President Kennedy: “You’re in a Pretty Bad Fix”

While discussing various options for dealing with the threat posed by Soviet missiles in Cuba, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Curtis E. LeMay, after criticizing calls to blockade the island, sums up the President’s political and military troubles.

[Copyright status: “This multimedia clip is free for educational and non-commercial uses. Its content and design may not be altered. For any other use, please contact: whitehousetapes@virginia.edu. Audio content courtesy of Lyndon B. Johnson Library. Written content produced by the Presidential Recordings Program, Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia”]

October 22, 1962

Telephone Recordings: Dictation Belt 30.2. Cuban Missile Crisis Update

Sound recording of three telephone exchanges. The first exchange is a telephone conversation held on October 22, 1962, between President John F. Kennedy and former President Dwight D. Eisenhower. They discuss ways to deal with the Cuban Missile Crisis and consider possible consequences, including nuclear war and actions taken by the Soviet Union in Berlin, Germany. The recording begins in mid-conversation. The second exchange is chatter involving [White House Operators?]. Machine noise follows. The third exchange is a brief fragment of a telephone conversation between Secretary of State Dean Rusk and an unidentified man. They talk about an impending address to the nation on providing an “effective quarantine” against a threat.

[Presidential Recordings, JFK Library, Copyright status: Public Domain]

Note: available for download in different formats here:

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Radio and television address to the American people on the Soviet arms build-up in Cuba, 22 October 1962

Sound recording of President John F. Kennedy’s radio and television address to the nation regarding the Soviet Union’s military presence in Cuba. President Kennedy reports the establishment of offensive missile sites and characterizes the transformation of Cuba into an important strategic base as an explicit threat to American security. He outlines his proposed course of action: quarantine all arms shipment to Cuba, increase the degree of surveillance, regard a possible attack launched from Cuba as a Soviet attack, reinforce the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, call for a meeting of the Organ of Consultation, call for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council, and demand that Premier Nikita Khrushchev cease his current course of action.

[White House Audio Recordings, 1961-1963, JFK Library, Copyright status: Public Domain]

Note: Transcript of speech and MP3 format available here.

October 23, 1962

Telephone Recordings: Dictation Belt 32.3. Possible Naval Action, Blockade of Cuba

Sound recording of a telephone conversation possibly held on October 23, 1962, between President John F. Kennedy and Deputy Secretary of Defense Roswell L. Gilpatric. They discuss setting rules of engagement for a naval blockade of Cuba, in case American naval forces need to engage Soviet ships. They also discuss arranging a meeting with Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller of New York and the Civil Defense Committee. The recording begins in mid-conversation. After the conversation, there is a brief fragment of indistinct speech followed by another brief exchange between President Kennedy and Gilpatric.

[Presidential Recordings, JFK Library, Copyright status: Public Domain]

Note: available for download in different formats here:

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MP3

October 26, 1962

President Kennedy and British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan on the Cuban Missile Crisis

Kennedy placed this call after having held crisis meetings with advisers all day. Macmillan received the call around midnight London time. U Thant, acting secretary-general of the United Nations, had been holding round-the-clock talks in New York. In the latest development, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Adlai Stevenson, had met with U Thant earlier that day in New York. U Thant, in turn, had been talking to Soviet Ambassador to the United Nations Valerian Zorin.

[Copyright status: “This multimedia clip is free for educational and non-commercial uses. Its content and design may not be altered. For any other use, please contact: whitehousetapes@virginia.edu. Audio content courtesy of Lyndon B. Johnson Library. Transcript copyright: 2006 by the Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. Written content produced by the Presidential Recordings Program, Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia”]

President Kennedy and Lincoln White, Dictation Belt 37.1

Kennedy discusses comments to the press concerning the Cuban Missile Crisis.

[Presidential Recordings, JFK Library, Copyright status: Public Domain]

Note: available for download in different formats here:

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MP3

October 27, 1962

Missiles in Turkey

President Kennedy and his advisers consider the ramifications of trading Jupiter missiles in Turkey for Soviet missiles in Cuba.

[Copyright status: “This multimedia clip is free for educational and non-commercial uses. Its content and design may not be altered. For any other use, please contact: whitehousetapes@virginia.edu. Audio content courtesy of Lyndon B. Johnson Library. Transcript copyright: 2006 by the Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. Written content produced by the Presidential Recordings Program, Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia”]

October 28, 1962

Telephone Recordings: Dictation Belt 41.2. End of Cuban Missile Crisis

Sound recording of a telephone conversation held on October 28, 1962, between President John F. Kennedy and former President Dwight D. Eisenhower. They discuss dealings with Soviet Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev for ending the Cuban Missile Crisis.

[Presidential Recordings, JFK Library, Copyright status: Public Domain]

Note: available for download in different formats here:

WAV

MP3

November 2, 1962

Radio and television remarks on the dismantling of Soviet missile bases in Cuba, 2 November 1962

Sound recording of President John F. Kennedy’s radio and television statement on the dismantling of Soviet missile bases in Cuba. In his speech President Kennedy indicates that the missile bases are in the dismantlement process, and explains that the naval quarantine on Cuba will remain in effect until the situation is resolved.

[White House Audio Recordings, 1961-1963, JFK Library, Copyright status: Public Domain]

II. Meeting Recordings

[JFK Library, Kennedy Presidential Recordings]

Tape 28

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October 16, 1962 Meeting on the Cuban Missile Crisis
Meeting on the Cuban Missile Crisis (starting at 68:50)

Tape 28A

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October 16, 1962 Meeting on the Cuban Missile Crisis continued

Tape 29

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October 17, 1962 Meeting with West German Foreign Minister Gerhard Schroeder

Tape 30

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October 18, 1962 Cabinet Meeting on the Federal Budget for Fiscal Year 1964Meeting on the Cuban Missile Crisis (starting at 43:10)

Tape 30A

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October 18, 1962 Meeting on the Cuban Missile Crisis continued

Tape 31.1

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October 18, 1962 Kennedy Summarizes a Late-Night Meeting on the Cuban Missile Crisis

Tape 31.2

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October 19, 1962 Meeting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the Cuban Missile Crisis

Tape 32.1

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October 22, 1962 Meeting on Diplomatic Plans for the Crisis

Tape 32.2

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October 22, 1962 Meeting of Berlin Group on Crisis Planning

Tape 33.1

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October 22, 1962 NSC Meeting on the Cuban Missile Crisis

Tape 33.2

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October 22, 1962 Meeting with the Congressional Leadership on the Cuban Missile Crisis

Tape 33A.1

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October 22, 1962 Meeting with the Congressional Leadership on the Cuban Missile Crisis continued

Tape 34.1

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October 23, 1962 Executive Committee Meeting of the NSC on the Cuban Missile Crisis

Tape 34.1A

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October 23, 1962Executive Committee Meeting of the NSC on the Cuban Missile Crisis continued

Tape 35.1

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October 23, 1962 Executive Committee Meeting of the NSC on the Cuban Missile Crisis continued

Tape 35.2

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October 23, 1962 Executive Committee Meeting of the NSC on the Cuban Missile Crisis

Tape 36.1

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October 23, 1962 Executive Committee Meeting of the NSC on the Cuban Missile Crisis continued Discussion between President Kennedy and Robert Kennedy (starting at 22:18)

Tape 36.2

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October 23, 1962 Discussion between President Kennedy and Robert Kennedy continued

Tape 36.3

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October 24, 1962 Executive Committee Meeting of the NSC on the Cuban Missile Crisis

Tape 37.1-37.3

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October 24, 1962 Meetings with Staff and Congressional Leadership on the Cuban Missile Crisis

Tape 37.4

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October 25, 1962 Executive Committee Meeting of the NSC on the Cuban Missile Crisis

Tape 38.1

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October 25, 1962 Executive Committee Meeting of the NSC on the Cuban Missile Crisis continued

Tape 38.2

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October 25, 1962 Executive Committee Meeting of the NSC on the Cuban Missile Crisis

Tape 38.2A

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October 25, 1962 Meeting on the Cuban Missile Crisis

Tape 39.1-39.1A

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October 26, 1962 Executive Committee Meeting of the NSC on the Cuban Missile Crisis

Tape 40

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October 26, 1962 Meeting with Intelligence Officials
Meeting with Indian Ambassador Nehru about the Fighting between China and India(starting at 13:55)
October 27, 1962 Executive Committee Meeting of the NSC on the Cuban Missile Crisis (starting at 34:30)

Tape 41

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October 27, 1962 Executive Committee Meeting of the NSC on the Cuban Missile Crisis

Tape 41A

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October 27, 1962 Executive Committee Meeting of the NSC on the Cuban Missile Crisis continued

Tape 42

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October 27, 1962 Executive Committee Meeting of the NSC on the Cuban Missile CrisiscontinuedExecutive Committee Meeting of the NSC on the Cuban Missile Crisis (starting at 36:18)

Tape 43

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October 28, 1962 Meetings on the Cuban Missile Crisis

Tape 44

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October 29, 1962 Meeting on the Cuban Missile Crisis October 30, 1962 Meeting on the Cuban Missile Crisis.
*No transcript available.

Tape 45

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October 31, 1962 Meeting on the Congo
Meetings on the Cuban Missile Crisis.
*No transcript available.

Tape 46 track 1

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October 31, 1962 Executive Committee Meeting of the NSC on the Cuban Missile Crisis.
*No transcript available.
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