Long after the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1963 and 1968, respectively, lingering doubts and debate swirled around the circumstances behind their murders. So in 1976 the House created the Select Committee on Assassinations to examine various conspiracy theories and to determine if laws that protected the President were adequate and whether information sharing between agencies had been transparent. This photograph became part of the select committee’s research materials.
The select committee issued extensive and detailed reports on both assassinations. One theory that the committee investigated was popularly known as the “Second Oswald.” Lee Harvey Oswald, the man charged with killing Kennedy, defected to Russia in 1959. Oswald returned to the United States with a wife and daughter in 1962, and after the assassination some speculated that the man who returned was really a Soviet, sent to impersonate Oswald and kill Kennedy. To investigate, the committee collected a number of known photographs of Oswald from before and after his trip to Russia, including this photo of Oswald from his service in the United States Marines. The committee concluded that “there are no biological inconsistencies in the Oswald photographs examined that would support the theory that a second person, or double, was involved.”
During the 102nd Congress (1991–1993), a portion of the select committee’s records, related specifically to Kennedy’s assassination, were opened under the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992 (Public Law 102-526).