History Podcasts

Saundra K. Spencer

Saundra K. Spencer

Q: Ms. Spencer, did you have any work after November 22nd, 1963, that was related to the death of President Kennedy?

A: Yes. We were requested to develop 4" by 5" color negatives and make prints of an autopsy that was - we were told it was shot at Bethesda after the President's body was brought back from Dallas.

Q: I would like to come to that in a minute. Prior to that, did you have any other work or responsibilities related to the death of President Kennedy?

A: We were trying to put together the prayer cards. Mrs. Kennedy had selected a black and white photograph, and so we needed a number of them. What we did was take four prints, 4" by 5" prints, and do the vignetting on those, and then they were copied to a master negative, and we took it downstairs and put it on the automatic black and white printers to print out the required numbers. Then, we brought them back and we did not cut them here. We brought them to the White House. They took them to the printers and evidently they were printed and cut there...

Q: So on Friday, November 22nd, 1963, did you do any work related to either the funeral of President Kennedy or to autopsy photographs that you mentioned?

A: No, we were primarily in a standby position.

Q: Approximately, how long did it take for you to work on the black and white prints?

A: It took most of the day. It seemed to me it was late, maybe 2 o'clock in the morning, by the time we got them over to the White House after we got the indication of which ones we needed to print.

Q: So this would be, then, you worked on them on Saturday, November 23rd, until approximately 2 o'clock in the morning on Sunday, November 24th, is that...

A: I can't remember the day. All I remember is that it was after the President's body bad been taken up to the Rotunda, because as we went to the White House, the lines were forming for the Rotunda.

Q: Just to make sure that I understand this correctly, that you took prints over to the White House, the black and white prints, and at that time, you noticed lines that were forming to go the Rotunda on Capitol Hill?

A: Yes.

Q: And at the time that you took the prints to the White House, do you remember whether the body was at the White House or whether it was at Capitol Hill?

A: It had to be up at the Capitol Rotunda at that time.

Q: Now, a few minutes ago you mentioned some work related to the autopsy photographs of President Kennedy. When did you first receive information that you would be doing some work on that issue?

A: We received a call from the quarterdeck, and they said an agent was there, and we were supposed to perform, photographic work for him. They logged him in and brought him up. He had in his hand 4 by 5 film holders, so I am estimating - he was a large man - so he probably had four or five film holders.

Q: Now, when you say he called from the quarterdeck, where was the quarterdeck?

A: The quarterdeck is on the first floor of NPC.

Q: Do you remember approximately when the telephone call happened, which day of the week?

A: No, I don't.

Q: Do you remember what you were doing at the time that you heard about the telephone call from the quarterdeck?

A: No, I don't. It seemed like it was in the morning.

Q: Were you working on the developing of the black and white prints, did it interrupt that, or was it before or after?

A: No, it was after.

Q: So it was after you had finished the prints. Had you done any other work between the time that you worked on the black and white prints and that you received a call from the quarterdeck?

A: We were finishing up job orders that we had, that had been requested from the White House.

Q: Do you remember the name of the agent who came with the film?

A: No, I don't. The only thing I remember, I think he said he was with the FBI.

Q: Do you remember we spoke earlier, you and I spoke on the telephone in December of 1996?

A: Yes.

Q: At that time you mentioned the name of an agent. Do you remember the name that you used at that time?

A: No, I don't, because I really couldn't verify that that was the agent, so I just - he was an agent.

Q: In December of 1996, you spontaneously said to us that you recalled the name was Fox, but that you weren't certain. Does that ring a bell?

A: Yes.

Q: When Mr. Fox or the person came to the White House lab, approximately, how many other people were working in the lab at that time?

A: Two others.

Q: Now, when you say that the agent had 4 by 5 film holders, what do you mean by that?

A: It means they either used a 4 by 5 press camera or a view camera, and a film holder is a two-sided container that holds two sheets of film, insert it in the camera, pull the dark slide, do your photograph, reinsert the dark slide, turn the holder over, and you are ready - and pull the dark slide, and you are ready for a second shot. So there is two sheets of film in each of the holders.

Q: When you refer to a press camera or a view camera, are those also known as large format cameras?

A: Yes, large format cameras.

Q: Now, if I recall correctly, you said that your recollection was that he had four or five of these duplex film holders, is that correct?

A: Correct.

Q: Did the agent speak to you directly or did he speak with somebody else?

A: To me directly.

Q: What did he ask you to do?

A: He said he needed the film processed and a print of each of them.

Q: What did you then do?

A: We took them and then checked our chemistry, brought it up to temperature, and processed the negatives. We put the negatives in the drying cabinet, and when they were completed, we brought them out. We went into the dark room and made a test print on them, which we processed and color corrected, and made the final print, at which time we took all scraps and anything related to that job, and put it in an envelope and gave it to the agent, returned his film holders to him.

Q: Did you keep any material at all related to the development of those photographs?

A: Absolutely not. The agent was very specific that he wanted everything, any test scraps or anything that we might use....

Q: Did you ever see any other photographic material related to the autopsy in addition to what you have already described?

A: Just, you know, when they came out with some books and stuff later that showed autopsy pictures and stuff, and I assumed that they were done in - you know, down in Dallas or something, because they were not the ones that I had worked on.

Q: Do you recall any books that you have seen with autopsy photographs in them?

A: I can't quote the titles of them.

Q: But you have seen commercially published books with what appear to be autopsy photos in them?

A: Yes.

Q: Did you ever hear of any discussion related to autopsy photos at NPC?

A: No.

Q: So, did you ever discuss the fact that you had processed those with Mr. Madonia, for example?

A: No.

Q: Did you ever discuss it with anyone else your own work?

A: No.

Q: Or did you hear of anyone else at NPC who had worked on any other autopsy photographs?

A: No.

Q: Did you have any opportunity to observe the content of the negatives and the prints as you were working on them?

A: Yes, I did.

Q: Can you describe for me what you saw as best you can recollect?

A: Briefly, they were very, what I consider pristine for an autopsy. There was no blood or opening cavities, opening or anything of that nature. It was quite reverent in how they handled it.

Q: If I can just ask for some clarification. Do you mean that the body appeared to be clean, had been washed? Is that what you are suggesting?

A: Yes.

Q: And that was different from what you had seen in other autopsy photographs, is that right?

A: Yes. In other autopsies, they have the opening of the cavity and the removing of vital organs for weighing and stuff of this nature. The only organ that I had seen was a brain that was laid beside the body.

Q: And that was in the photograph of President Kennedy?

A: Yes.

Q: So there was a brain in the photograph beside the body, is that correct?

A: Well, yes, by the side of the body, but, it didn't appear that the skull had been cut, peeled back and the brain removed. None of that was shown. As to whose brain it was, I cannot say.

Q: But was it on a cloth or in a bucket or how was it.

A: No, it was on the mat on the table.

Q: Did you see any people in the pictures in addition to President Kennedy, such as bystanders or doctors?

A: I don't remember anybody or any real measuring material, instruments, because normally, when you are photographing something like that, you have gauges in there, so that you can determine size and everything.

Q: Did you see any cards or any identification markers that would identify an autopsy number or the victim, or something of that sort?

A: I don't remember any.

Q: Were there any photographs that would show the entire body in one frame, do you recall?

A: It seems like there was a full-length one, kind of shot at a 45-degree angle, at a slightly high angle.

Q: Did you see any photographs that focused principally on the head of President Kennedy?

A: Right. They had one showing the back of the head with the wound at the back of the head.

Q: Could you describe what you mean by the "wound at the back of the head"?

A: It appeared to be a hole, inch, two inches in diameter at the back of the skull here.

Q: You pointed to the back of your head. When you point back there, let's suppose that you were lying down on a pillow, where would the hole in the back of the head be in relationship to the part of the head that would be on the pillow if the body is lying flat?

A: The top part of the head.

Q: When you say the "top of the head," now, is that the part that would be covered by a hat that would be covering the top of the head?

A: Just about where the rim would hit.

Q: Are you acquainted with the term "external occipital protuberance"?

A: No, I am not.

Q: What I would like to do is to give you a document or a drawing, and ask you, if you would, on this document, make a mark of approximately where the wound was that you noticed.

Q: Did you see any photographs that would have shown any wounds in either the neck or shoulders or back?

A: It seems like I seen - there was at the base of the neck.

Q: When you are pointing, you are pointing to the front of your neck to the right side?

A: Yes.

Q: Do you remember approximately how large that injury was?

A: Just about the size of like your thumb pressed in.

Q: About how much time were you able to look at the photographs, did you get a good observation of them, was it fleeting? How would you describe that?

A: It was - they traveled. You placed them on the drum, they would travel around, so after you place it on, probably about 15 seconds or so, they start under the drum and it rotates around, and then they drop off, and you grab them and stack them. So probably just 10 or 15 seconds.

Q: Are your observations based upon the prints rather than the negatives?

A: Yes. Like I said, the negatives have masking on them, and you don't see too much on a color negative when you are printing.

Q: And for the prints to dry, that takes approximately how long?

A: Probably about two to three minutes by the time it goes on, it goes around the drum.

Q: And that is all entirely on the drum?

A: Yes.

Q: So the prints themselves would not hang from a wire or anything?

A: No, they have electric drum, and it puts the ferrotype finish to it. That was before RC papers when you can air-dry them.

Q: What is your best recollection of the approximate size of the wound on the throat that you identified before?

A: Just about like that, just like a finger, half-inch.

Q: Do you remember whether the wound was jagged or how that appeared?

A: No, just - it appeared just indented. It was, again, clean, pristine, no - you know, it wasn't an immediate wound, it had some cleaning done to it or something.

Q: Were you able to observe any characteristics of the room in which the photographs were taken?

A: No.

Q: Do you remember what the walls looked like or whether they...

A: No, everything basically concentrated straight on the body. It didn't appear like the normal medical setting, you know. I don't know whether they did it in a separate room or they used special coverings on their tables or what, but I don't remember, you know, hospital stainless-steel gleaming or anything, or people running around in green scrubs or anything. It was just, like I said, it looked a very reverent laid out arrangement.

Q: What is your best recollection as to how long after the autopsy you received the photographs? Let me try and put it in terms of some other events that happened. Do you remember whether you developed the photographs before or after the funeral, for example?

A: It was before.

Q: Before the funeral. But your recollection also is that it was after the black and white cards had been delivered to the White House?

A: Right.

Q: Do you recall whether it was on a Sunday or a Monday?

A: It was sometime over the weekend. It was during the day. I believe the body arrived back at the White House Saturday morning about 1:00 a.m., so because we had a black and white photograph of it being carried into the White House. It was dark, so it would had to have been - the film would have had to have been shot by that time...

Q: So you would think that the photographs that you developed were taken after reconstruction of the body?

A: Yes.

Q: In the photograph that you saw in November of 1963, with the brain lying next to the body, were you able to observe whether there had been any damage to the brain?

A: No, it was not damaged as this brain, as the brain on these photographs were.

Q: When you say "these photographs," you means that we just saw today?

A: The ones that we just viewed.

Q: Ms. Spencer, before we started I said that I would give you an opportunity to add anything if you have any additional statement that you would like to make, and I will just give you that opportunity now.

A: I had brought along a photograph that was reproduced approximately 10 days prior to the time that we printed the autopsy photographs that we produced at NPC, and because of the watermark and stuff on it does not match those that I viewed, and NPC bought all of a run, which meant every piece of paper within the house would have the same identical watermarking and logo on it, I can say that the paper was not a piece of paper that was processed or printed out of the Photographic Center within that time frame. Like I said, the only thing I can think of is that a second set of autopsy pictures was shot for public release if necessary.

What follows is a brief summary of some of the historic new evidence contained in recently released autopsy witness interviews conducted by the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) from 1976-1979 and in interviews of key witnesses conducted over the last three years by the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB).

What do the abovementioned documents reveal? As we'll see in a moment, they contain, among other things, evidence that a bullet struck Kennedy in the right temple, that there was a large wound in the back of the skull (which of course indicates the bullet came from the front and exited the rear of the head), that several important autopsy photos are missing, that there was NOT a straight path from the Oswald window to the back wound to the throat wound (because the back wound was lower than the throat wound and because Kennedy was not leaning off the seat when the back missile struck), that even Secret Service agents believed there had been a conspiracy, and that autopsy photos were altered (obviously in order to give a false impression of the direction of the gunfire that struck the president).

Here are some of the important new disclosures:

* John Stringer reported that the throat wound was probed. This is key because it's further evidence the autopsy doctors were lying when they testified they were not aware of the throat wound until after the autopsy when Dr. Humes called Dallas and spoke with Dr. Perry.

* White House photographer Robert Knudsen told the HSCA that the probe went downward from the throat wound, which means that if the throat wound was the exit point for the back wound, then the back wound was lower than the throat wound. Knudsen assisted with the handling of the autopsy photos, and may have been present at the autopsy. The fact that the back wound was lower than the throat wound destroys the single-bullet theory.

* Dr. Pierre Finck, the only forensic pathologist at the autopsy, confirmed to the ARRB that there was a fragment trail that went from a point near the external occipital protuberance (EOP) upward to the area of the right orbit (behind the right eye). This is further evidence that the rear head entrance wound was not in the cowlick but rather four inches lower, very close to the EOP and just a couple inches above the hairline. Why is this so important? Because no bullet fired from the Oswald sniper's nest could have made that wound, unless Kennedy's head was tilted nearly 60 degrees forward, which the Zapruder film and the Muchmore film clearly show it was not.

* Saundra Kay Spencer, as established by chain of evidence documentation, processed the autopsy photos that Secret Service Agent James Fox brought from the autopsy. However, she did not process any black and white photos, only negatives and color positives, and she told the ARRB she did not process any of the autopsy photos now in evidence. She said the extant autopsy photos were not the ones she processed. This suggests the black and white autopsy photos were processed elsewhere, and that there were two sets of autopsy photos.

* Joe O'Donnell, a White House photographer who worked with Robert Knudsen, told the ARRB that Knudsen showed him autopsy photos that showed a grapefruit-sized hole in the back of the head. This is yet another witness who saw a sizable wound in the rear of the skull. The evidence of a large wound in the back of Kennedy's head is important because the current autopsy photos show no such wound. In the autopsy photos the back of the head is virtually undamaged. Critics contend those photos have either been altered or the skull was cosmetically repaired before the pictures were taken, so as to conceal the large wound in the back of the head. A large wound in the back of the head, of course, would be characteristic of a shot from the front, not from behind.

* O'Donnell further told the ARRB that one of the autopsy photos Knudsen showed him showed what appeared to be an entry wound in the right temple. This is key because there were several reports out of Dallas of a small wound in one of the temples. O'Donnell's account strongly tends to confirm those reports. Also, a defect consistent with a wound of entry can be seen in the right temple area on the autopsy x-rays, according to three doctors who have examined them (one of whom is an expert in neuroanatomy and another of whom is a board-certified radiologist).

* Tom Robinson, the mortician, confirmed what he had already told the HSCA on the issue of a small wound in the temple, namely, that he saw a small hole in the area of the right temple, and that he filled it with wax. Although Robinson speculated the small hole was made by an exiting fragment, the hole is strong evidence of a shot from the front in light of the reports of a large wound of exit in the back of the head and in light of the other accounts of an entry-like wound in one of the temples. Indeed, White House press man Malcolm Kilduff told reporters at Parkland Hospital that afternoon that Dr. Burkley told him a bullet entered the right temple, and Kilduff pointed to his own right temple to illustrate the trajectory. This was all captured on film. One of the reporters who attended that press conference wrote in his notes "bullet entered right temple" (or "entered right temple").

* O'Donnell said that Knudsen showed him other autopsy photos that showed the back of the head intact. This corresponds with the other evidence that there were two sets of autopsy photos, one genuine and the other altered.

* Knudsen's wife, Gloria Knudsen, and both his children, told ARRB interviewers that four autopsy photos were missing and that another photo had been "badly altered" (and "severely altered"). They also reported that he told them that four or five of the autopsy photos he was shown by the HSCA did not represent what he saw during the autopsy.

* Mrs. Knudsen reported that Knudsen told her that the background in the autopsy photos he was shown was wrong. This agrees with the reports of other witnesses at the autopsy that the photos in evidence show things in the background that were not in the autopsy room at Bethesda Naval Hospital.

* Knudsen's son Bob recalled that his father mentioned seeing probes inserted into three wounds. The WC said there were only two wounds of entrance, one in the back and the other low on the back of the head. Three entrance wounds means there must have been more than one gunman.

* Knudsen himself told the HSCA that he firmly recalled at least two probes inserted into wounds and that he believed he recalled one picture in which three probes were inserted into wounds. Again, three wounds of entrance equals conspiracy, period. In fact, in this instance two probes might mean conspiracy since it's unlikely the pathologists would have probed the head wound.

* Knudsen volunteered in his HSCA interview that there was "something shady" about the third piece of film that he handled. Incredibly, the HSCA interviewer did not ask him to explain his comment.

* Knudsen confirmed that Saundra Spencer processed color autopsy photographic material at the naval lab, and that he was personally aware that the black and white photos were done elsewhere.

* The special agent in charge of the Miami Secret Service office told the HSCA he believed some elements of the Secret Service might have been involved in a conspiracy in the assassination.

* Secret Service Special Agent Elmer Moore "badgered" Dr. Malcolm Perry into changing his story that the throat wound was an entrance wound. This is revealing. Researchers have always suspected that Dr. Perry was pressured into changing his initial (and very firm) diagnosis that the throat wound was an entrance wound.

* Robert Bouck, who was the chief of the Protective Research Division of the Secret Service in 1963, told the HSCA he believed Kennedy was killed by a conspiracy.

* Special Agent Fox made black and white autopsy photo prints at the Secret Service lab.

* Dr. Robert Karnei, who viewed and assisted with the autopsy, told the ARRB he clearly remembered that a photo was taken showing a probe inserted into the body. No such photo is to be found in the autopsy photos in evidence.

* Another new witness discovered by the ARRB is John Van Hoesen. Van Hoesen was a mortician who was present when Robinson reconstructed the skull. He told the ARRB he saw an "orange-sized" hole in the back of the head. Incidentally, Robinson himself told the HSCA he very clearly recalled seeing a large wound in the back of the skull, and he even diagrammed the wound for the HSCA interviewer. Robinson, of course, not only saw this wound for a prolonged period of time, but he also HANDLED it. Is anyone going to seriously suggest that Robinson "confused" this wound for a wound that was "really" above the right ear?! (The current lone-gunman theory posits, and the extant autopsy photos show, a large wound above the right ear.

* Yet another new witness is Earl McDonald, who was a medical photographer at Bethesda Naval Hospital. McDonald trained under Stringer, in fact. McDonald told the ARRB that at Bethesda he never saw anyone use a metal brace like the one seen holding the head in the autopsy photos. Other medical technicians at the autopsy have made similar observations, i.e., that the background in the autopsy photos doesn't show the autopsy room at Bethesda.

* X-ray technician Jerrol Custer, who was present at the autopsy and assisted with the autopsy x-rays, testified to the ARRB that he was certain he took x-rays of the C3/C4 region of the neck and that those x-rays showed numerous fragments. Custer added that he suspected the reason those x-rays disappeared was that they showed a large number of bullet fragments. Custer has a point. Why else would those x-rays have been suppressed?

* Custer told the ARRB that he saw a large bullet fragment fall from the back when the body was lifted for the taking of x-rays.

* Custer further told the ARRB that he wanted to put his personal marker on the x-rays during the autopsy, so as to be able to identify them, but that he was unable to mark all of them because a senior military officer ordered him to stop marking them.

I remember her deposition well. Her comments about the watermark were indicated to be in error later when Kodak examined her print and compared it with other paper from 1963. However, she did develop post mortem photography different from that in the Archives today. (Different type of film and different images.) Her photography seemed to be of the body after reconstruction, but before it was clothed and put in the burial casket. The photos she developed would be some of those that I now consider “missing.” Her testimony is part of my analytic work. She was a very credible witness.

Depositions were soon to be released by the Assassination Records Review Board. Most of the listed names were familiar, but neither Debra Conway nor 1 had heard of Saundra Kay Spencer. So, we did what most researchers of the Kennedy assassination did in like circumstances: we contacted Mary Ferrell. True to form, Mrs. Ferrell found the name in her file and a number. I called in August 1998 and explained who I was and what I was doing. It was, indeed, the Saundra Spencer.

I told her that I had never heard of her before. (I had not yet read her ARRB deposition.) She chuckled: "Well I think they were just going through papers and came upon my name." I asked if I could videotape her for an oral history.

"No, I don't want to do that. I work behind the camera, not in front of it." However, she was happy to answer my immediate questions, for which I was grateful.

In November, 1963, she was petty officer in charge of the White House Laboratory at the Naval Photographic Center in Anacostia, Washington, DC. Within a day or two of the assassination, a Secret-Service agent arrived, carrying films in four holders-exposures of President Kennedy's corpse.

Law: Did someone call and tell you he was coming?

Spencer: Yep. Chief Robert L. Knudsen had called saying that an agent would have film negatives to be developed. We were not to pay too much attention to what was on them.

Law: Did you look at the negatives?

Spencer: Yes, I had to. I had to get the color balance right.

Spencer said the agent's name was James K. Fox. He stayed with her while she developed the films, even in the darkroom.

Spencer: They were basic shots of the president's head. He was on his back. They weren't like autopsy pictures. They did not have the incisions, you know, or the cutting of the head.

Law: Did the body have the classic Y-incision denoting the autopsy had been performed?

Spencer: I didn't see any Y-incision. The chest wasn't showing. I don't know when these pictures were taken. They could have been shot in Dallas when the Dallas doctors started their work, or it could have been after everything was finished. There is no way to tell. I was not informed.

Law: Can you describe the wounds on the body?

Spencer: The two that I remember were at the back of his head and at his throat. The throat wound was small and slightly off to the right, about thumbnail size.

This was a startling revelation. Spencer had developed a photograph showing a thumbnail-sized throat wound, the picture had to have been taken before the official autopsy at Bethesda. Those I had spoken to from the Bethesda autopsy had confirmed that the throat wound was an open gash as seen in the "stare-of death" photograph. There is no record of photographs of the corpse taken in Dallas

Spencer: The wound in the back of the head was about two and a quarter (inches) around, slightly off to the right.

Law: Was there massive damage to the head?

Spencer: No. Have you viewed the photos in the National Archives? Law: Yes, I have.

Spencer: There was none of the massive head trauma that is shown in those photos.

Law: Can you offer an opinion on the wound in the back of the head-was it an entrance wound or an exit?

Spencer: I don't know how it hit. There was no large wound on the face, so I think that it would have to be an exit wound. But that's just my opinion.

Law: I understand. Would you say the top and front of the head were intact.

Spencer: Yes. His face looked normal and relaxed. It didn't have the grimace that is on the other photos.

The negatives she developed were in color and of good quality.

Law: From what angles where the photographs taken?

Spencer: Well, I remember a three-quarter length view of the body, a profile, back of the head, and the throat. There was one of the brain next to him.

I almost screamed "WHAT?" in her ear, but somehow I maintained composure. I tried to sound nonchalant: "Was the brain whole?"

Spencer: Yes - the more I think of it - it's almost like they reconstructed his head for the photos so, if they had to show the public something, that's what they would show.

Law: Did the brain have damage to it?

Spencer: No, which surprised me and I doubt that it was his because I didn't see any cutting on the head). I didn't see how they could get it out.

Law: It was just beside him?

Spencer: Yes. It was next to the body. The head had no opening big enough to take the brain out. This set of pictures differed from those that are in the National Archives. This was a more respectful set of poses - almost like the body was posed for these pictures. But like I said, after looking at the other (National Archives) photos, I almost think these were shot in case some had to be shown. So the family and everybody could see them. I know they closed the casket, and I never could understand that from the pictures I'd seen.

She went on to say the president's body and hair were clean and free of blood. I asked about the bullet wound in the president's back: none of the photographs that she developed showed the rear of the torso.

She developed and dried the negatives and then ran some test prints; in all, it took an hour or so. Agent Fox then gathered up the negatives and prints and the papers that Spencer had signed, and told her to forget that he had been there.

The ARRB seemed disappointed that she could not identify the autopsy pictures in the National Archives as the one she developed. In her opinion, they were trying to obtain as much information as possible.

There have also been interesting developments from the crime scene, perhaps the most important of which may seem like a no-brainer: The famous 26-second Zapruder home movie of JFK's murder contains original undoctored photographic imagery of the assassination. This authentication was deemed necessary by the Assassination Records Review Board, created by Congress to oversee the release of JFK records, because a vocal faction of JFK conspiracy theorists in the 1990s started claiming that the film had been surreptitiously altered to hide evidence of a conspiracy. (Their theory refuted, these conspiracy theorists abandoned the JFK field for greener pastures of 9/11 speculation.) However, this isn't to say that there aren't some legitimate and uncomfortable questions about assassination-related photographs.

"The only caution I have in the photographic record concerns the JFK autopsy material," says Richard Trask, a photo archivist in Danvers, Massachusetts who has the world's biggest collection of JFK assassination imagery, and has written two books on the subject. "That is an area that always makes me pause. What was happening during the autopsy if there was a cover-up or just incompetence, I don't know. It is the only area of the JFK story that I have some doubts about."

As well he should. The JFK medical evidence is worse than a mess -- it is a documented national scandal that awaits decent news coverage. The new evidence shows beyond a reasonable doubt that the photographic record of Kennedy's autopsy has been tampered with by persons unknown. The sworn testimony and records developed by the Assassination Records Review Board in the late 1990s allow no other conclusion.

Among the key post-Stone revelations in the JFK medical evidence:

Autopsy photographs of Kennedy's body are missing from government archives, according to sworn testimony from doctors and medical technicians involved in the autopsy. The origins of other autopsy photos in the collection cannot be determined.

Two FBI agents who took notes during the autopsy gave detailed sworn testimonies rejecting the so-called single bullet theory which girds the official story that Oswald alone killed Kennedy.

Dr. James Humes, the chief pathologist at JFK's autopsy, admitted under oath that he destroyed a first draft of his autopsy report. Humes had previously only admitted to destroying his original notes.

Dr. Gary Aguilar, a San Francisco ophthalmologist who has written about the autopsy, is emphatic. "The medical evidence is really stark evidence of a cover-up in my view," he says. "The story is so extraordinary that it is hard for some people, especially in mainstream media organizations, to come to grips with it. There's just no doubt that there were very strange things going on around the president's body that weekend."

Sounds like a paranoid fantasy? More than a few of the people who participated in the JFK autopsy have sworn to it.

Saundra Kay Spencer was a technician at the Navy's photographic laboratory in Washington. She developed the JFK autopsy photos on the weekend after Kennedy's death. She kept her oath of secrecy for 34 years. When she spoke to the ARRB in 1997, Spencer displayed the efficiency of a career military woman. She was well prepared with a sharp memory for the details of her involvement in the amazing events of November 22-24, 1963. Her testimony, after reviewing all the JFK autopsy photographs in the National Archives, was unequivocal. "The views [of JFK's body] we produced at the [Naval] Photographic Center are not included [in the current autopsy collection]," she said. "Between those photographs and the ones we did, there had to be some massive cosmetic things done to the President's body."

FBI agent Francis O'Neill was present during the autopsy and took notes. In 1997, he also viewed the photographs. Referring to an autopsy photograph showing the wound in the back of Kennedy's head, O'Neill said, "This looks like it's been doctored in some way. I specifically do not recall those -- I mean, being that clean or that fixed up. To me, it looks like these pictures have been. It would appear to me that there was a -- more of a massive wound. ." O'Neill emphasized he was not saying the autopsy photographs themselves had been doctored but that the wounds themselves had been cleaned up before the photograph was taken.

James Sibert, another FBI agent present at the autopsy, had a similar reaction to the photos. "I don't recall anything like this at all during the autopsy," he said under oath. "There was much -- well, the wound was more pronounced. And it looks like it could have been reconstructed or something, as compared with what my recollection was."

What both men were objecting to was the lack of a big hole in the back of JFK's head which would be somewhat indicative of a so-called blowout wound caused by a shot from the front.

The retired FBI agents were especially scathing about the single bullet theory positing that one bullet caused seven non-fatal wounds in Kennedy and [Texas] Governor Connally and emerged largely undamaged on a hospital stretcher.

They took notes on the autopsy as Dr. Humes examined Kennedy's body. Both said the autopsies concluded the bullet that hit Kennedy in his back had not transited his body. But chief pathologist Humes took another view in his autopsy report, writing that the bullet had emerged from Kennedy's throat and gone on to strike Governor Connally. But Humes's credibility is undermined by the ARRB's discovery that he destroyed not only his notes, but also his first draft of the autopsy report without ever revealing its contents or even existence.

Sibert later told a JFK researcher of the single bullet theory: "It's magic, not medicine."

First basemen never go No. 1 in the MLB draft: Here's why Spencer Torkelson is about to change that

In this most abnormal of springs, the Detroit Tigers may make an abnormal pick with the first selection in the 2020 MLB draft: a first baseman.

Arizona State slugger Spencer Torkelson is regarded not just as the top talent in the draft, but as the safest pick in a draft with an extra dosage of uncertainty due to the sudden halt of college and high school seasons back in March. He mashed 48 home runs his first two seasons at ASU, he produced in two summers while using a wood bat, and he was off to a great start this year, hitting .340 with six home runs in 50 at-bats despite seeing few pitches in the strike zone.

Still, Torkelson is a first baseman and, depending on how you judge these things, only one pure first baseman has ever been selected with the first overall pick since the draft began in 1965: Adrian Gonzalez, by the Marlins in 2000. No college first baseman and no right-handed-hitting first baseman has ever gone with the first pick, so Torkelson is aiming for a unique spot in draft annals. It's not a lock that the Tigers will select him, but it's worth noting the scouting director who drafted Gonzalez for the Marlins was Al Avila. The general manager for the Tigers? Al Avila.

The JFK Autopsy Cover-Up: The Testimony of Saundra Spencer

Ever since people began questioning the official findings of the Warren Commission regarding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the popular retort of Warren Commission supporters has been “Conspiracy theory!”

That retort was somewhat successful in the early years — that is, during the time that the CIA and the Pentagon were successful in keeping their records relating to the assassination secret — but its effectiveness was stymied when increasing amounts of previously undisclosed JFK assassination-related evidence began to be released to the public, especially during the 1990s, when the JFK Records Act and the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) forced federal departments and agencies to disclose much of their assassination-related records to the public.

As the newly disclosed circumstantial evidence mounted, it increasingly pointed in the direction of the national-security establishment as the orchestrator of the assassination, which made the decades-long secrecy make more sense.

Keep in mind that the Warren Commission, which conducted much of its work in secret, ordered that much of the evidence it acquired during its investigation be kept secret from the American people for 75 years. Then, when the House Select Committee on Assassinations reinvestigated the Kennedy assassination in the 1970s, it ordered that much of its evidence be kept secret for 50 years.

Imagine: All that secrecy in a case that involved nothing more than a supposed lone nut who supposedly assassinated the president.

What many Americans still don’t realize is that there is still a mountain of assassination-related records that are still being kept secret, especially by the CIA, but which are set by the JFK Records Act of 1992 to be released in October 2017. An article about those records was published this week in Politico. It’s entitled “Why the Last of the JFK Files Could Embarrass the CIA” by Bryan Bender. The article is an excellent overall analysis of the situation and is really worth reading.

Those still-secret records are being held by the National Archives, which has announced that the records will be released in October 2017, pursuant to the JFK Records Act, which itself set a time limit of 25 years for all JFK-related assassination records to be released.

However, there is one possible out: The CIA and other federal agencies can ask the president to extend the time for secrecy, on grounds of “national security.”

Time will tell, but my hunch is that the CIA and possibly other segments of the national-security establishment will end up requesting a further extension of secrecy, on the ground of “national security” of course. The reason I say that is not because the records are going to contain confessions or admissions of guilt but because of the likelihood that the still-secret records contain even more circumstantial evidence pointing in the direction of the national-security establishment as the orchestrator of a regime-change operation that took place on November 22, 1963.

In his article, Bender, citing a former Justice Department official in the Kennedy administration, utilized an interesting phrase regarding the autopsy that the U.S. military conducted on Kennedy’s body: “purposely botched autopsy.” Here’s the complete paragraph:

Adam Walinsky, who worked in the Kennedy Justice Department, believes that the mounting evidence over the years of a purposely botched autopsy of the president and the multiple “suicides” of so many figures connected to the events strongly suggests such a cover-up from high levels.

In the years following the Warren Commission Report, supporters of the Commission’s findings often alluded to a “botched” autopsy or to the “incompetence” of the military pathologists. It seems to me that the term “purposely botched” connotes something different. To me, the phrase connotes an intentional act.

That, in fact, is the theme of my ebook book The Kennedy Autopsy, which has continuously been on Amazon’s list of Top 100 Best-Selling Books in 20th-Century American History since last January. In that ebook, you will not find any wild-eyed conspiracy theories. All you will find is a compilation of circumstantial evidence relating to the autopsy that was conducted on Kennedy’s body by the national-security establishment.

That circumstantial evidence leads inexorably in one direction — that the U.S. national-security state conducted a false and fraudulent autopsy on President Kennedy’s body and then issued a false and fraudulent autopsy report, as part of a cover-up of the Kennedy assassination itself.

In my newest ebook, Regime Change: The JFK Assassination, which is also now on Amazon’s list of Top 100 Best-Selling Books in 20th-Century American History and also in Amazon’s list of Best-Selling Short Reads, I place that false and fraudulent autopsy in a larger context — one relating to Cold War regime-change operations, such as those that the national-security state conducted in Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, Cuba in the 1960s, and Chile in the early 1970s.

Also, see FFF’s third ebook on the JFK assassination, which focuses on motive: JFK’s War with the National Security Establishment: Why Kennedy was Assassinated by Douglas Horne, which until recently has also been on Amazon’s 20th-Century U.S. History list since January. Horne served on the staff of the ARRB.

Permit me to set forth a dramatic example of this circumstantial-evidence phenomenon — the testimony before the ARRB on June 5, 1997, of Saundra Spencer.

As you read through Spencer’s testimony, keep two things in mind:

One, Spencer was never called to testify before the Warren Commission and the House Select Committee on Assassinations.

Two, when Congress enacted the JFK Records Act, for some unknown reason it included a provision that prohibited the ARRB from reinvestigating the Kennedy assassination. Therefore, the ARRB was precluded from following up on Spencer’s testimony with an investigation.

Who was Saundra Spencer? In November 1963, she was petty officer in charge of the White House Laboratory at the Naval Photographic Center in Anacostia, D.C.

As you read through Spencer’s sworn testimony before the ARRB, keep in mind the following important fact: the official autopsy photographs show the back of Kennedy’s head to be intact — that is, without a big exit hole that would imply a shot having been fired from Kennedy’s front. Here is a link to the official autopsy photograph showing the back of Kennedy’s head to be intact. Recall that Lee Harvey Oswald, the accused assassin, was situated in Kennedy’s rear.

Excerpt from the Sworn Testimony of Saundra Spencer before the ARRB

(Taken from pages 302-332 of Volume II of Inside the Assassination Records Review Board by Douglas P. Horne. Italics added for emphasis.)

GUNN: What was your position in the White House Lab in 1963?

SPENCER: I was Petty Officer-in-charge.

GUNN: Did you have any supervisor who was also within the White House Lab?

SPENCER: Chief Knudsen was our liaison and supervisor from the White House, but we fell under the Officer-in-Charge of the color lab, but they pretty much left us alone, [and we] did our own thing….

The Kennedy Autopsy and Regime Change: The JFK Assassination. Knudsen claimed to have been the official photographer for Kennedy’s autopsy. Yet, John Stringer, a civilian who worked for the Navy, was the official photographer for the autopsy, and there is no evidence that Knudsen participated in the official autopsy — that is, the one that Stringer participated in.>

GUNN: How many people worked under you in the White House Lab in November ’63?

Spencer: It averaged four to five at various times, people would come and go [and] as they transferred in and out, they were assigned to the Photographic Center, and they were then detailed to us.

GUNN: Now, I would like to go to November 22 nd of 1963, and ask you what you were doing when you first heard about the assassination of President Kennedy?

SPENCER: I was sitting and color correcting a photo of John-John [taken] in President Kennedy’s office, and it came over the NPC radio speaker that the President had been shot.

GUNN: After you heard that, what did you do?

SPENCER: We just continued to work until we got word that they wanted to go ahead and close the NPC down and move all except our personnel out of the immediate areas….

GUNN: When you say they moved all the personnel out of NPC except “our area,” do you mean the White House area or the color lab area?

SPENCER: They secured the color lab crews and we [the White House Lab unit under Knudsen] stayed.

GUNN: Ms. Spencer, did you have any work after November 22, 1963 that was related to the death of President Kennedy?

SPENCER: Yes. We were requested to develop 4” by 5” color negatives and make prints of an autopsy that was — we were told it was shot at Bethesda after the President’s body was brought back from Dallas.

GUNN: I would like to come back to that in a minute. Prior to that, did you have any other work or responsibilities related to the death of President Kennedy?

Spencer: We were trying to put together the prayer cards. Mrs. Kennedy had selected a black-and-white photograph [taken by Jacques Lowe in 1960], and so we needed a number of them. What we did was take four prints, 4” by 5” prints, and do the vignetting on those, and then they were copied to a master negative, and we took it downstairs and put it on the automatic black-and-white printers to print out the required numbers. Then, we brought them back and we did not cut them here. We brought them to the White House. They took them to the printers and evidently they were printed and cut there.”

GUNN: Now, a few minutes ago you mentioned some work related to the autopsy photographs of President Kennedy. When did you first receive information that you would be doing some work on that issue?

SPENCER: We received a call from the quarterdeck, and they said an agent was there, and we were supposed to perform photographic work for him. They logged him in and brought him up. He had in his hand 4 by 5 film holders, so I am estimating — he was a large man — so he probably had four or five film holders. [This is consistent with the number recalled by Knudsen in his HSCA deposition.]

GUNN: Did you have any opportunity to observe the content of the negatives and the prints as you were working on them?

GUNN: Can you describe for me what you saw as best you can recollect?

SPENCER: Briefly, they were very, what I consider pristine for an autopsy. There was no blood or opening cavities, opening[s] or anything of that nature. It was quite reverent in how they handled it.

GUNN: If I can just ask for some clarification, do you mean that the body appeared to be clean, had been washed? Is that what you are suggesting?

GUNN: And that was different from what you had seen in other autopsy photographs, is that right?

SPENCER: Yes. In other autopsies, they have the openings of the [body] cavities and the removing of vital organs for weighing and stuff of this nature. The only organ that I had seen was a brain that was laid beside the body.

GUNN: Did you see any photographs that focused principally on the head of President Kennedy?

Spencer: Right. They had one showing the back of the head with the wound at the back of the head.

GUNN: Could you describe what you mean by the “wound at the back of the head?”

SPENCER: It appeared to be a hole … two inches in diameter at the back of the skull here. [In her telephone interview with us the previous December, she had said 2 to 2.5 inches in diameter.]

GUNN: …Ms. Spencer, could you go to the light box and tell me whether you can identify the color transparency of view no.1 … image no. 29, as having seen that before?

GUNN: In what respect is the image no. 29 different from what you previously saw?

SPENCER: Like I said, there was none of the blood and matted hair.

GUNN: Can you explain what you mean by that? Are you seeing blood and matted hair on image no. 29?

SPENCER: On the transparency.

GUNN: But that was not present, the blood and matted hair was not present—

GUNN:–on the images you saw?

GUNN: Do you recall whether there was a metal holder for the head on the images you developed?

SPENCER: I don’t remember a metal holder.

GUNN: Do you remember what kind of cloth or any other material was identifiable in the photograph in comparison to what you see in this image?

SPENCER: As I remember, it was a darker cloth. This image [image no. 29] appears to be a towel over one of the trays, stainless-steel trays.

GUNN: Previously, you said that, if I recall correctly, that the background in the photograph looked different from what you had previously seen in terms of — I understood that you said that it didn’t look like a hospital.

GUNN: Could you describe the photograph that you see in front of you now, whether that is the same sort of background that you noticed in the photographs that you developed?

SPENCER: Well, it could be the dark background, because normally, when you are doing the autopsies, the overhead lights and stuff are on. It appears that the lights have been turned off and that they were using a flash rather than just overall general lighting.

GUNN: Do those two images [the color positive transparency and the print] correspond to the photographs that you developed at NPC in November of 1963?

GUNN: In what way are they different?

SPENCER: There was no — the film that I seen [sic] or the prints that we printed did not have the massive head damages that is [sic] visible here….

GUNN: Putting aside the question of the damage of the head, does the remainder of the body, the face, correspond with what you observed?

GUNN: Ms. Spencer, you have now had an opportunity to view all the color images, both transparencies and prints, that are in the possession of the National Archives related to the autopsy of President Kennedy. Based on your knowledge, are there any images of the autopsy of President Kennedy that are not included in those views that we saw?

SPENCER: The views that we produced at the Photographic Center are not included.

GUNN: Ms. Spencer, how certain are you that there were other photographs of President Kennedy’s autopsy that are not included in the set that you have just seen?

SPENCER: I could personally say that they are not included….

GUNN: Is there any doubt in your mind that the pictures you saw in November 1963 also were photographs of President Kennedy?

SPENCER: No, that was President Kennedy, but between those photographs [that you showed me today] and the ones that we did, there had to be some massive cosmetic things done to the President’s body.

End of Excerpt from Saundra Spencer’s Sworn Testimony Before the ARRB

Do you see the problem? Two different sets of autopsy photographs, one set that makes it into the official records and another set that is kept out of the official records and kept secret — one set (the secret set) showing a big exit hole in the back of Kennedy’s head (implying a shot from Kennedy’s front) and another set (the official set) showing the back of Kennedy’s head to be intact (i.e., with no big exit hole).

All this obviously means but one thing: If Saundra Spencer was telling the truth — and there is absolutely no reason to doubt that she was — then there is but one conclusion any reasonable person can arrive at based on her testimony: that the U.S. military conducted a false and fraudulent autopsy on President Kennedy’s body, including the preparation of false and fraudulent photographs falsely depicting the back of the president’s head to be intact.

Of course, it’s conceivable that there could be those who might accuse Saundra Spencer of being a liar. But then they would have to deal with the sworn testimony of Francis X. O’Neill and James W. Sibert, two FBI agents who were present at the autopsy taking meticulous notes, who, for some unknown reason, were never called to testify before the Warren Commission. The following is an excerpt from the sworn testimony they provided to the ARRB in the 1990s (as taken from chapter 8 of volume III of Horne’s book):

GUNN: Mr. Sibert, does that photograph [autopsy photo no. 42, which shows the back of the head to be intact] correspond to your recollection of the back of the head?

SIBERT: Well, I don’t have a recollection of it being that intact…. I don’t remember seeing anything that was like this photo.

GUNN: But do you see anything that corresponds in photograph 42 to what you observed on the night of the autopsy?

SIBERT: No. I don’t recall anything like this at all during the autopsy. There was much — well, the wound was more pronounced. And it looks like it could have been reconstructed or something, as compared to what my recollection was.

GUNN: Okay. Can we take a look now at view number six, which is described as “wound of entrance in right occipital region,” color photograph no. 42. I’d like to ask you whether that photograph resembles what you saw from the back of the head at the time of the autopsy?

O’NEILL: This [photograph of the back of the head] looks like it’s been doctored in some way. Let me rephrase that, when I say “doctored.” Like the stuff has been pushed back in, and it looks like more towards the end than at the beginning [of the autopsy]. All you have to do was put the flap back over here, and the rest of the stuff is all covered on up.

GUNN: [using the head wound diagram Frank O’Neill made in 1978 for the HSCA] Do you see the wounds that you identified in the drawings that you made in 1978 on autopsy photograph no. 42?

O’NEILL: No, I don’t see the wounds.

GUNN: [now using autopsy photograph no. 38] Does the back of the head in photograph 38 [“posterior view of wound of entrance of missile high in shoulder”] … does the head wound [a small apparent entrance wound in the cowlick of the hair in the photograph is visible, whereas the right rear of the head appears to be intact] look like what you saw on the night of the autopsy?

O’NEILL …quite frankly. I thought that there was a larger opening in the back … opening in the back of the head.

GUNN: Do you recall the stirrup that’s being used to hold the President’s head? Do you remember whether that was—

O’NEILL: No, I don’t recall that.

GUNN: Do you recall a towel being under the President’s head at any time during the autopsy?

O’NEILL: No. I don’t recall a towel being there, because I didn’t’ see the towel. Yes, but that would look pretty much like the mess that was there.

So, there you have it: Not just Saundra Spencer saying that there was a large wound in the back of Kennedy’s head, implying an exit wound, but also two FBI agents who were testifying separately before the ARRB.

Still not satisfied that the U.S. military’s autopsy photographs are false and fraudulent?

See this video interview of Dr. Robert McClelland, who was one of President Kennedy’s treating physicians at Parkland Hospital. Click to 5:39 in the interview and proceed to watch McClelland describe the huge hole in the back of Kennedy’s head.

What are the chances that Navy petty officer Saundra Spencer, FBI Agents Francis O’Neill and James Sibert, and Dr. Robert McClelland are all lying or that they somehow entered into a conspiracy with each other to pin Kennedy’s assassination on the national-security establishment? No reasonable chance at all. Their statements constitute proof beyond any and all reasonable doubt that the national-security establishment conducted a false and fraudulent autopsy on the president’s body.

For more on how and why they conducted the false autopsy, including how and why President Kennedy’s body was secretly brought into the Bethesda morgue almost 1 and ½ hours before the start of the official autopsy, see FFF’s trilogy of books: The Kennedy Autopsy by Jacob Hornberger, JFK’s War with the National Security Establishment: Why Kennedy was Assassinated by Douglas Horne, and Regime Change: The JFK Assassination.

Do you see now why the CIA and other elements of the national-security establishment are likely to ask for another extension of secrecy on the records that are set to be released by the National Archives in October 2017?

  • Mary on Comments Policy
  • Mary on Josiah Thompson on how to think about November 22
  • G.W.Hicks on Breaking a promise, Trump blocked the release of JFK files a year ago
  • G.W.Hicks on Ex-flame says Jack Ruby ‘had no choice’ but to kill Oswald
  • Keyvan Shahrdar on A closer look at Orville Nix’s film

In Our Man in Mexico, investigative reporters tells the remarkable story of CIA station chief and what he really thought of JFK's assassination. Click on the cover image to buy it now.


Located in Oklahoma County, Spencer is nine miles northeast of Oklahoma City, and a part of that metropolitan area, and three miles north of U.S. Highway 62. Spencer was one of the earliest towns in a region that was opened to settlement in the Land Run of 1889 into the Unassigned Lands.

Spencer was developed in 1901 in Crutcho Township by Louis F. and Henry W. Kramer, early area settlers and businessmen of Oklahoma City. Originally from Spencer County, Indiana, they had come to Guthrie, Oklahoma Territory, in 1889 and had moved on to Oklahoma City. Louis Kramer built the city's first hotel, organized the Oklahoma City Mill Elevator Company, and constructed Sportsman's Park and racetrack. In company of several other Indiana capitalists, he acquired property east of the city near a milldam on the North Canadian River. The partners formed the Canadian River Water Power Company to develop a townsite there. The location lay near the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway line.

Crutcho Township was a fertile agricultural area within the flood plain of the North Canadian River. Local farmers grew wheat, some of which had been sent to Chicago for the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893 and won first place in the crop competition. The township's population in 1900 stood at 805 and in 1907 at 1,020. Kramer's company improved the dam, built a water-powered flouring mill and grain elevator, laid sidetracks to them, and obtained a postal designation called Spencer, after their Indiana home. A fifty-acre tract was surveyed into lots and sold.

After extensive promotion, by 1909 Spencer had grown to approximately 300, with 1,111 in the surrounding township. The populace supported six stores, a hotel, two churches, a public school, and a bank and enjoyed telephone service. Over the years the Spencer News and Spencer Star have informed the citizens. The population remained around 300 for several decades.

Spencer grew after World War II, as nearby industries such as General Motors Assembly Plant and Tinker Air Force Base offered employment. In 1948 an opportunity to obtain gas utility service created a movement that resulted in incorporation. A new post office building was constructed in that year. The 1960 census, Spencer's first, recorded 1,189 residents, and as Oklahoma City spread out around various suburban communities, Spencer's population tripled in the next decade, rising to 3,713, in 1970. After annexing several nearby housing additions in the 1960s and 1970s, Spencer peaked at 4,064 in 1980 and had 3,972 in 1990.

In the 1990s the residents supported fifteen retail businesses. The largest employer was Willow View Hospital. At the end of the twentieth century Spencer remained a residential suburb of 5.34 square miles generally lying between Twenty-third (U.S. Highway 62) and Sixty-first streets on the south and north and Midwest Boulevard and Post Road on the west and east. Oklahoma City borders the town on three sides and Midwest City on the south. The city maintained a statutory council-manager form of government. The Oklahoma City Independent School District provided education. Most wage earners worked in nearby parts of the Oklahoma City metropolitan area. The 2000 census recorded a population of 3,746, and the 2010 census found 3,912 residents.


"Spencer," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City.

Marilyn Staten, "Original Farm Settlers Brought Name, Relaxed Atmosphere to Spencer," Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 2 November 1979.

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Kagan's Articles - FREE Kagan Articles

It is now 23 years, almost a quarter of a century, that I have been developing structures. We now directly train over 25,000 teachers a year in our workshops and in-services, and many times that number are learning about structures through our presentations at conventions, publications, and the work of others. Our books are being translated into numerous languages. Training companies in various parts of the world have arranged agreements with us to train teachers in Kagan Structures. Teachers worldwide use Kagan Structures on a daily basis in their classrooms. Thus it may be time to collect a few thoughts on the history of structures.

Origins: Kagan Structures

The first work in developing Kagan Structures sprang from years of experimentation with children from many parts of the world. Before turning to applied work in classrooms, I had done basic research on the social motives and social interaction of children. Years of research revealed that the single most powerful determinant of the cooperativeness of children is the situations in which they are placed. All people can be made to be extremely cooperative or extremely competitive, depending on the type of situations they are in. My research had revealed that regardless of nationality, race, culture, and childrearing practices all students became dramatically more cooperative in certain kinds of situations and dramatically more competitive in other types of situations.

It was a natural step to apply those findings to the classroom by designing situations that elicited cooperation among students. If teachers create the right kinds of situations for students, they foster a range of positive outcomes among students including cooperativeness. Thus the development of structures was rooted in situationism, a powerful approach to social psychology. The Kagan Structures are applied situationism — they apply to the classroom the finding that situations more than anything else determine social behavior.

The first structures I taught teachers had their roots in experimental research methodology. As a graduate student at UCLA, I worked under the guidance of Millard Madsen. Dr. Madsen had developed a methodology of behavioral choice points to study very young children and children cross-culturally. Our research team developed a number of games to reveal the cooperativeness and competitiveness of children. By observing what children did when placed at behavioral choice points, we could side-step the problems inherent in translation of language and study the cooperativeness-competitiveness of very young children, even before the emergence of fluent language. As a professor I continued researching cooperativeness-competitiveness and other social behaviors by developing novel games. When I began to apply the work to classrooms, some of the experimental games were easily adapted for instruction.

For example, in many of our research studies we had used variations of RoundRobin and RoundTable: students in small groups taking turns contributing. The same structure worked well to equalize participation in cooperative learning teams. If students in small groups discuss a topic with no interaction rules, in an unstructured way, often one or two students dominate the interaction. If, however, students are told they must take turns as they speak, more equal participation is ensured. RoundRobin is a simple, time-honored way of structuring interaction. RoundTable is a natural extension — each student in turn writing something on a common piece of paper.

Another structure I had developed for research purposes moved naturally into the classroom. In one experimental task to measure the impact on participation of children, I had made a rule that each time a student talked, he/she had to relinquish one of a limited supply of tokens. Adapted for classroom work the technique worked well to equalize participation within cooperative learning teams. Given a limited supply of tokens, students think before speaking, are more aware of how much they are dominating the conversation, participate more equally, and focus more intently on the speaker. I called the strategy Talking Chips.

Why Did We Give Structures Special Names?

The strategies I was developing were unique. Other cooperative learning trainers emphasized providing teachers with activities they could do in their classroom. For an hour of training the teacher learned an activity that would last an hour in the classroom, an activity the teacher would "use up." I wanted to provide something more enduring. So I emphasized developing and sharing strategies that could be used over and over with different content.

Because I wanted teachers and students to learn and remember the strategies and to use them often with academic content, I gave them unique, catchy names. "Numbered Heads Together" is far more descriptive and easier to remember than something like "Teammates Consult Prior to Individual Accountability." Giving the strategies catchy names was useful because it distinguished the strategies from each other and from one-time cooperative activities,

A turn-taking structure: Each member of a team, in turn, shares orally with the group.

— Kagan Structures for Success™

round robin
1. Sports. A tournament in which each contestant is matched in turn against every other contestant.
2. A petition or protest on which the signatures are arranged in a circle in order to conceal the order of signing.
3. A letter sent among members of a group, often with comments added by each person in turn.

— American Heritage Dictionary

Giving the structures distinct names has a number of advantages:

1. Students know exactly what to do when the teacher says "Do a RoundRobin" or "Turn to your face partner and RallyTable possible explanations for. "
2. The structures are easier to remember for teachers and students.
3. The structure names facilitate communication among teachers. It is far more descriptive to say, "I had the students RallyRobin prime numbers" than it is to say, "I had the students do cooperative learning during math." When a teacher says "I did a RoundRobin naming events from the chapter," we know just what happened in the classroom.
4. The structures become a quantifiable curriculum for teachers. When I say to a teacher, "Do you know the steps of "Circle the Sage," the answer is either yes or no a teacher knows immediately if he/she has mastered that instructional strategy.

How They Came to be Called "Structures"

The strategies I was developing were like rules of a game. They feel natural to students in part because students are familiar with board games with their various rules. For students, structures are like games, easy-to-learn and easy-to-play. Whenever teachers use them, however, they make a profound difference in the way students participate, how they interact, how they treat each other, and how much they learn. As I developed more of these strategies I realized I was developing a fresh approach to teaching. We needed a name for these powerful new strategies.

I had been teaching teachers these simple interaction sequences for several years before I came up with the word "structures." The methods I was teaching were instructional strategies, but the term "strategies" did not distinguish the methods from the many reading, writing, and math strategies teachers had used for years. These strategies were different. They were not ways to better deliver specific content they were ways to shape student interaction over any content.

I remember the moment I came up with the word "structures." I was sitting at my computer, writing. I wanted a word that communicated that these strategies were not tied to any specific content, that they were content-free. RoundRobin could be used to help teach reading, writing, or any other curriculum content. The word "structure" came to mind — probably because one of my first jobs had been as an ironworker. I remembered how as steelworkers we would put up a structure, and then later the cement workers, carpenters, plumbers, and electricians would come in after us to put in their content. The steel structures I built with my fellow ironworkers could hold anything. New plumbing or electrical outlets could be put into our structures, but the underlying structure stood. The analogy held: Once a teacher had a structure, the teacher could put reading content into the structure, or math content, or science or history. Regardless of the content, the underlying structure remained the same.

I liked the word "structure" for a second reason. It conveyed the idea that through a simple sequence of steps we could structure the interaction of students toward specific outcomes. Prior to the concept of structures it was generally assumed that all you had to do to get students to be productive in groups was to give them an interesting problem. As I observed groups working on problems it was clear that often one or two of the students would do most or even all of the work. Teachers wanted and hoped for equal participation, but they were not structuring for that outcome. They were allowing the students to interact any way they wanted. Unstructured interaction in a group, especially a heterogeneous group, almost always leads to unequal participation. If we want to have more equal participation and learning, we need to structure the interaction among teammates. For example, if we structure the interaction of students so each teammate in turn contributes an idea, more equal participation is ensured. This RoundRobin structure dramatically alters the participation and learning among students compared to unstructured group discussion. Structures allow us to create desired outcomes. Or, put another way, we structure for the outcomes we desire.

The Road to Acceptance: Bumpy

In those early days of cooperative learning, not everyone was as excited about structures as I was. Different trainers had different notions regarding the essence of cooperative learning. I was elected the first president of CACIE, the California Association for Cooperation in Education. The organization consisted of educators developing, training, and implementing cooperative learning. To create greater understanding and unity among the leaders of that group, I called for a retreat at which each person would share a bit of the work they were doing. When it was my turn, I chose to share RoundTable, a simple structure in which a paper was passed around the table of teammates, each person in turn adding an answer or idea to the paper. My goal was to convey the idea of structures — these content-free interaction sequences I was developing and training. I wanted to first do a RoundTable with some math content (write down two numbers that sum to 21) and then planned to move to language arts (write down adjectives that describe our President). To my surprise, I did not get to complete my lesson. After a few rounds of writing sums, one of the cooperative learning trainers jumped up and angrily declared, "This is not cooperative learning!" She refused to participate any further and her upset reaction put an unexpected end to the activity.

I was astonished. In the discussion of cooperative learning that ensued, it turned out that each of us had very different notions. My notion of cooperative learning was content-free: For me cooperative learning was simply working together to learn together. For the participant that refused to do RoundTable, the essence of cooperative learning was giving problems to groups and letting them interact to construct meaning. For her, if there was a right/wrong answer or too much structure, it was not cooperative learning!

Although I could not convince some of the early leaders in cooperative learning that the idea of structures was important or even positive, the response of almost all teachers was extremely favorable. Before structures, teachers were struggling with complex lesson designs. They were trying to convert traditional lessons into cooperative learning lessons by re-writing their lessons to incorporate essential elements of cooperative learning like positive interdependence, individual accountability, and face-to-face interaction. It was hard work to incorporate all the essential elements of cooperative learning in each lesson, and many teachers burned-out in the process. I visited many classrooms where cooperative learning had come and gone. The teachers reported it was simply too hard to spend their days teaching and their nights lesson planning. Whenever I shared the idea of structures, the enthusiasm of teachers was re-ignited. Structures made it easy.

I began telling teachers "Don't do a cooperative learning lesson! With structures you can make cooperative learning part of any lesson." Rather than replacing traditional lessons with cooperative learning lessons, our goal is to deliver content via structures. It is an integrated rather than replacement approach.

Different structures could be used to create a set or closure for a lesson, to generate higher-level thinking or mastery of high consensus content, to help students share information, or bond as a team or class. In our trainings and in my writings I emphasized the concept of "Domains of Usefulness," that different structures had different functions. For example, when students did an Inside/Outside Circle, regardless of the content (they could rotate to share personal experiences, or to practice spelling words) they were interacting with others in the class as a whole, getting to know and like their classmates. I coined the term "Classbuilding" to capture the idea that certain structures had a positive impact on the class as a whole.

The work on structures led to a string of publications. The most comprehensive book on structures was simply titled Cooperative Learning 1 . That publication was followed by books on structures for Classbuilding 2 , Teambuilding 3 , Higher-Level Thinking 4 , as well as specialty books on how to use structures in the primary grades 5, 6 , and in all of the content areas 7 . Recently our work has extended to the use of structures to reach the standards in all content areas 8, 9, 10, 11 , as well as books for specific high school content areas 12, 13, 14, 15 .

My belief in the power of structures has been sustained over the years by watching the reactions of students and teachers when structures are used. My initial persistence in developing structures was vindicated in another way a number of years ago during a chance meeting in an elevator at a national conference. As I was getting out of the elevator, the person about to enter was none other than the cooperative learning trainer who initially had such a strong hostile reaction when I first introduced the concept of structures. She stopped me to describe the very positive reaction from participants she received in her workshops when she trained structures!

How Different Structures Were Developed

As the work with structures progressed, my co-workers and I developed more and more structures. There were benefits in creating new structures: Different structures were good for different purposes plus teachers and students love variety. To date we have developed over 160 distinct structures. Different structures were developed in different ways.

The first structures, as I have indicated, were adaptations from basic research. Others were adapted from watching what excellent teachers did. Some were teacher-created. Some were derivations from basic principles. Others were developed spontaneously as I taught workshops. Yet others appeared, literally, in a dream! Most have been tweaked and modified over the years, as we have discovered more efficient and powerful ways to have students interact.

Video Analysis: Numbered Heads Together. At the time I was coining the word "structures" to describe the simple content-free instructional strategies I was developing. I was analyzing what worked and what did not work as we trained teachers and student teachers. Roger Skinner, the principal at Chapparal Middle School in Diamond Bar California had graciously opened up his school for me to study. I had trained his teachers in some cooperative learning methods and was visiting classes to observe what teachers were doing.

Roger said to me, "You have to see the classroom of Russ Frank. Russ is a madman. I don't know what he is doing, but the kids love him and they are learning." Sylvia Andreatta and I went to Russ' class. Sylvia was taking videos so we could analyze what we were observing and share it with student teachers. When we entered Russ' class, it was like no other class we had ever seen. Students were seated in teams and Russ was at the overhead, teaching a language arts lesson. Russ would project a sentence on the overhead and ask a question about the sentence. There would be an animated buzz of interaction within teams. Russ would then touch his ear and one student would jump up from each team. Russ would call on a student and if that student answered correctly the team would earn a point. Russ had a frenetic pace and had all sorts of signals, and if one team missed, another could challenge. The classroom was controlled chaos and the students loved it. At the time I couldn't understand what was going on. All I could see was Russ giving all sorts of non-verbal signals to which the students responded, with kids jumping out of their chairs, yelling answers, earning points.

A few days later Sylvia said to me, "You have to look at the video of Russ' class! He really has something." As we ran and re-ran the video, it was clear to me that underlying the chaos in Russ' room was a structure. To make this structure something any teacher could do, my job was to adapt and transform the unique 'Russ-only language arts performance' into a content-free calm sequence of steps any teacher could use to better deliver any curriculum. Russ was asking a question, having the students interact, and then giving a signal to indicate which student in each team had a right to respond. If that student was the first to jump up, be called on, and respond correctly, the student earned a point for a team. If not, another team would have the opportunity to win the point. Later when I sat at my computer, I gave this simple sequence a name I called it Numbered Heads Together to convey the idea that each student had a number and that all the students on the team put their heads together to come up with their best answer. Numbered Heads Together was one of the first cooperative learning structures I began training.

Teacher Innovation: Simultaneous Numbered Heads. As I trained teachers in Numbered Heads Together, they came up with variations and improvements. Becky Nehan of Coachella Unified School District developed a tremendous improvement for the structure by having more than one student at a time respond. Rather than calling on just one team, Becky would have a representative from each team go to the blackboard to write his/her answer, correct answers earning a point for their team. Becky's variation multiplied by eight the active participation among students and the number of students who were held accountable for giving an answer. I loved it. A teacher who had never met Russ was collaborating with him, building off his ideas to help develop methods that would benefit any teacher. I gave the name "Simultaneous Numbered Heads Together" to Becky's variation and in my training began pointing out the advantages of simultaneous response modes.

Soon teachers flooded me with additional ways students could respond when their number was called including slates, response cards, thumbs up/down. The structural approach was becoming richer and more varied. There were structures and variations on structures.

Applying Basic Principles: Improving Numbered Heads Together. My co-workers and I developed and modified many structures by simply applying four basic principles: Positive Interdependence, Individual Accountability, Equal Participation, and Simultaneous Interaction (PIES). For example, recently we modified Numbered Heads Together, inserting a new step, individual write, after the teacher asks a question. Why did we insert a step? — To increase individual accountability. Without having to respond on his/her own, a student could get away without thinking about the answer at all, just waiting to be told the answer by teammates during the heads together time. Adding an individual write strengthens individual accountability. Over the years we have modified existing structures and created new structures to implement the PIES principles.

Two of the four PIES principles, Positive Interdependence and Individual Accountability are common to almost all approaches to cooperative learning. I developed the other two principles they are unique to the Kagan approach. Whereas others call for "face-to-face" interaction, the Kagan approach calls for equal participation and simultaneous interaction. Implementing the "E" and "S" of PIES strengthens structures dramatically. Students can be "face-to-face" while one does most are even all the talking asking "How Equal?" pushes us to design structures in which no student is left behind. "Face-to-face" does not inform us about the quality of a structure nearly as much as does Simultaneous Interaction. Simultaneous Interaction focuses us on exactly what percent of our class is overtly active at any one moment — it is a quantitative rather than just qualitative. Unlike "Face-to-face," the "S" of PIES informs us that pair work doubles the active engagement compared to square work and that with regard to increasing engagement, teams of four are better than teams of 5 or 6. Testing structures against the PIES principles elevates our endeavor — it gives us a yardstick with which to measure the quality of a structure.

Applying Basic Principles: Paired Heads Together. Paired Heads Together is a new structure I recommend over Numbered Heads Together for most learning tasks. I developed Paired Heads Together to apply a different basic principle — the simultaneity principle. In Paired Heads Together the teacher asks a question, students write their answer on their own, and then turn to their shoulder partner to share and discuss their answers. They then turn to their face partners to share their answer one on one. Why would I recommend Paired Heads Together over the tried and true Numbered Heads Together? Because applying the simultaneity principle reveals Paired Heads Together doubles the overt active participation — twice as many students are sharing their answers at any one moment during the heads together time.

How Salt Melts Snow: Circle the Sage. Some structures have been created on the fly. On the way to the workshop I was giving in Maine we drove behind a truck salting the snowy roads. I was curious how salt melts snow, so I asked my workshop host who was driving. When I asked her, she was at a loss for an answer. During the workshop that day, without pre-thought, I asked the workshop participants, "How many of you know how salting the roads is a catalyst for the snow to melt?" About ten people raised their hands. I said, "Please stand up." I then asked for people to leave their teams and gather around the experts, each teammate from each team gathering around a different "sage." After the sages shared, I had the teammates return to their team to compare notes. We all got an unexpected bonus: There are two different ways to salt the roads, so when teammates compared notes, even many of the "experts" learned something they did not know. Circle the Sage is now used on a regular basis by many teachers to have students teach each other how to solve a problem or to share special information they have gathered.

Late for a Workshop: Sages Share. One structure came into existence through rather inglorious means. I got caught in traffic one morning driving to a workshop in Los Angeles. It was about the tenth meeting of a yearlong training for trainers. In spite of having left in plenty of time to set up the workshop, I arrived after all the participants because of the traffic, just in time to stand in front of them to start the workshop. Without a thought about what I was about to do, I asked the participants to each take out about eight or so small slips of paper. I then asked them to do a RoundRobin each naming structures they had tried with students or trainees, writing the name of the structure on a slip of paper and placing the paper in the center of the table. After a number of rounds, the tables were full of slips of paper with structure names. I then asked each person to initial all the structures they had tried. Next, I had the teammates do a RoundRobin each in turn asking questions about a structure they had not initialed, with those who had initialed them, the "Sages," answering.

Although I had initiated the structure as filler to keep the participants occupied while I unpacked my briefcase, the structure worked so well, it became an integral part of our trainings. Sages Share is good for recall and review of information from a chapter, procedures from a lab, or vocabulary definitions. It can be used also by having the homework problems each on a separate slip of paper, so those who get the problem right can initial the slip and become sages to share with the others.

A Dream: Stir The Class. Some structures have literally appeared as dreams. When you think structures all day your mind does not stop thinking structures while you sleep! One morning I woke with a clear picture of students in a classroom standing in teams around the class. The teacher asked a question. The students put their heads together to formulate their best response. The teacher then called a student number and how many teams to rotate: "Student three, rotate two teams clockwise." The student with that number in each team responded and then shared her/his answer with the new group, receiving praise.

I was excited about the structure because it combined mastery, movement, and classbuilding. In fact, I was so excited I wanted to try it with students right away. Unfortunately, I was committed to being at home for the next four days. So I did the next best thing. I called my wife Laurie who was in North Carolina training teachers. I described the structure to her and asked her to share it with the teachers she was working with. Four days later when I flew from California to North Carolina, Laurie and four teachers met me at the airport. They had all tried the structure and had glowing reports of how much their students enjoyed it and how well it worked to promote mastery. In fact, they had put their heads together to give the structure its name: Stir the Class.

A Discovery: There is Always A Structure

After developing and training teachers in structures for a few years, I made a discovery that deepened my understanding of the power of structures and changed my conceptualization of what we, as teachers, are doing and what skillful teaching is. I realized at every moment in the classroom, there is always a structure!

If a teacher lectures, that is one way to structure the interaction in the classroom. If the teacher calls on one student to respond to a question, that is a different way to structure the interaction in the classroom. If instead, the teacher says to a group, "Talk it over as a group," that is a different way to structure. If the teacher says, "Do a RoundRobin in your group," that is yet another way. Because each of these ways to structure the interaction in the class has different consequences for academic and non-academic outcomes, the question at any one moment becomes, "Have I chosen the best structure to reach my objectives?" Skillful teaching includes knowing a range of structures and when to use each.

A key concept in the work with structures was to distinguish three general approaches to structuring classrooms, what we call Teacher A, Teacher B, and Teacher C. Teacher A is the traditional teacher who asks a question of the class, calls on a student, and responds to the student's answer. In Teacher A's classroom, there is no interaction among students. Teacher B, rather than calling on one student at a time gets far more active engagement by using teams and saying, "Talk it over in your teams." Teacher B has students interact, but it is unstructured interaction. Anyone in the group can talk as much or little as they want. We call this group work. In contrast, Teacher C uses Kagan Structures to carefully structure the interaction of students in the group, to maximize positive outcomes. Kagan Structures are carefully designed to, among other things, equalize participation.

Thus, in the classroom of Teacher A, many students seldom or never raise their hands, leading to unequal participation and unequal learning gains. In the classroom of Teacher B, more students participate because participation is occurring in small groups, but there are still some students who can choose not to participate, allowing their teammates to do most or all the talking. In Classroom C, all students participate because the Kagan Structures are designed to equalize participation, ensuring more equal educational outcomes. Built into the Kagan Structures are four basic principles that increase and equal positive outcomes: Positive Interdependence, Individual Accountability, Equal Participation, and Simultaneous Interaction.

Redefining Activities and Lessons

A structure is content-free. A teacher puts her/his content into the structure to create an activity. For example, if I have students RoundTable writing descriptive adjectives for a political character as part of an integrated social studies/language arts lesson, that is one activity. If I have them RoundTable alternative ways to present data as part of an integrated science/math lesson, that is a different activity. Each structure can be used to generate an infinite number of activities. Thus the basic formula in the Kagan approach is:

Content + Structure = Activity

To deliver content we use a structure and which structure we choose determines, to a great extent, not only how well the content will be retained, but also a host of other outcomes.

Given this basic formula, we began to develop a new concept of a lesson. If content plus a structure is an activity, then a lesson is merely a series of activities. A good lesson is a series of activities carefully sequenced to reach an important educational objective. Some of the early work with structures was designed to show teachers how they could reach their objectives through a sequence of structures. We called these lessons Multi-Structural Lessons. Two of our early publications were books of multi-structural lessons for mathematics 16 and language arts 17 .

The Big Leap: Beyond Cooperative Learning

For many years as I worked to develop structures, I thought Kagan Structures were simply an approach to cooperative learning. To that point in the development of structures I had defined a structure as "a content-free sequence of steps designed to structure the interaction of students with each other." It never occurred to me that with the concept of structures I had stumbled onto something much bigger than cooperative learning, something that could extend beyond structuring the interaction of students with each other. The breakthrough occurred when I began to apply the Kagan Structures to implement multiple intelligences theory.

Multiple Intelligences Lessons. I watched with interest as educators attempted to implement the theory of multiple intelligences. What I saw was a lesson-based approach, similar to what was used when educators first attempted to implement cooperative learning. Depending on the trainer, the multiple intelligences lessons took different forms. Some trainers emphasized the use of learning centers so students would rotate through a Mozart center, a Picasso center, a Tiger Woods center, etc. Others emphasized MI lessons or theme units. Yet others emphasized assessing students and attempting to teach each student the academic curriculum through that student's strongest intelligences, creating a "clear window onto the curriculum."

Multiple Intelligences Structures. As I watched the early implementation of multiple intelligences theory, I realized that no matter how great the multiple intelligences lessons were, they were feeding the replacement cycle. If the implementation of Multiple Intelligences Theory was dependent on complex multiple intelligences lessons, regardless of how powerful those lessons were, this too would pass. Why? Educational innovation is inevitable and when the next new innovation was to come, it would replace Multiple Intelligences. A teacher simply does not have time to rotate the student through the MI learning centers and change the content of those centers on a regular basis and also implement next year's new thing. A great innovation would be set aside. Tragic. Tragic for students. Tragic, too, for teachers who once again would be told to set aside an innovation they had labored to implement.

It was then that I asked, "Couldn't we do for multiple intelligences what we had done so successfully for cooperative learning? Couldn't we apply the structural approach so that, rather than planning complex multiple intelligences lessons, a teacher could make multiple intelligences part of any lesson?"

The result was a large book, Multiple Intelligences, I co-authored with my son Miguel Kagan 18 . We identified and created dozens of MI structures, structures to engage each of the intelligences as part of any lesson. Some structures engaged many intelligences others only a few or primarily just one. When teachers use a range of multiple intelligences structures, they make their curriculum more accessible and enjoyable for the range of learners and in the process engage and develop the range of intelligences. We began to tell teachers, "Don't do MI lessons, make MI part of every lesson."

After a number of years of successfully developing and implementing Kagan Structures for multiple intelligences, I realized the work had redefined structures. Prior to that work I was happy to define structures as ways to structure the interaction of students with each other. But many of the multiple intelligences structures we had developed and teachers were using successfully had no interaction between students. To engage the intrapersonal intelligences, for example, we had structures like Journal Reflections, and Guided Imagery that had no social interaction component. A new, broader definition of structures had emerged: A structure is a content-free sequence of steps designed to structure the interaction of students with each other and/or the curriculum.

Structures for Everything: The Embedded Curriculum. Having broken the set that structures were simply cooperative learning methods, I realized they could be applied to almost any educational innovation. For example, rather than teaching lessons on character, we could make character education part of any lesson by using structures that developed honesty, caring, citizenship, or any of the other character virtues.

Similarly, instead of teaching separate higher-level thinking lessons, higher-level thinking can be made part of any lesson by using Kagan Structures for higher-level thinking. Rather than redesigning lessons or creating new lessons to make our instruction brain-based, we can align any lesson with the principles of brain-based instruction by using Kagan Structures for brain-friendly instruction.

The structures deliver an embedded curriculum. By choosing structures carefully teachers can foster character, cooperativeness, multiple intelligences, higher-level thinking, and just about any other positive educational outcome. For example, if a teacher has students practice their math problems using Boss/Secretary, the students learn their math well, but at the same time, they learn to be responsible, caring, and patient hone their communication skills engage the interpersonal intelligence and learn to take the role of the other. When students do Find My Rule they develop their interpersonal skills while developing their inductive reasoning skills. Each structure delivers an embedded curriculum. By using a range of structures a teacher produces a range of positive outcomes without losing time from academics.

In the last few years, following this line of reasoning we have been busy developing structures that, with no time off academics, target and develop:

• The eight intelligences of Multiple Intelligences Theory
• The fifteen most important Character Virtues
• The fifteen most important Thinking Skills
• The five dimensions of Emotional Intelligence
• The five most important Memory Systems identified by brain research
Language acquisition for students at all stages of language development

Another Discovery: Instruction and Curriculum are Inseparable

There has been a long-standing distinction in education between curriculum and instruction. Curriculum is what we teach instruction is how we teach it. People are hired in schools and districts as a specialist in either curriculum or in instruction. Historically, the emphasis has been on curriculum. Interestingly, although the largest educational association in the world is called the Association for Curriculum and Supervision, when you go to the meetings of ASCD, you find more presentations on instruction than on curriculum. What is going on? There has been an historical shift to increasingly recognize the importance of instruction. The name of ASCD leaves instruction out because it was created before that shift had occurred.

The work we have been doing with structures led us to discover that the distinction between curriculum and instruction is a false distinction! In our basic formula curriculum is represented as "Content" and instruction is represented by "Structure," but every time we change the structure, we change not just how content is delivered but what content is delivered. Structures contain an embedded curriculum — arguably the most important curriculum!

For example, if students are learning about World War I, we can have them work alone from their text to master the facts. Alternatively, we can have students use any number of Kagan Structures. For example, if the students use Debate, they not only retain more facts, they learn also to prepare oral arguments, take the role of the other, detect fallacies, analyze and sequence an argument, listen with respect. In addition they acquire teamwork skills, responsibility, and respect, among other things. What is learned is a function not just of the content studied but how it is studied. If we choose a different Kagan Structure, very different skills are acquired. A different curriculum is delivered with each structure. Because there is an embedded curriculum within each structure and we always have to choose some structure, curriculum and instruction are inseparable.

With a fast-changing knowledge base and greater emphasis on thinking skills and teamwork skills, the curriculum embedded in structures is actually more important than the traditional curriculum. After all, what will serve a student more throughout her/his lifetime? — Knowing one more fact about a past war, or knowing better how to work with others and how to assume, present, and defend a point of view?

The Big Advantage: Breaking the Replacement Cycle

Structures foster character virtues, emotional intelligence, multiple intelligences, and thinking skills as part of any lesson. To deliver these important facets of curriculum, teachers do not have to plan new or different lessons they just deliver their lessons using structures. This feature of structures, the ability to deliver an embedded curriculum through the way we teach, has tremendous implications.

The most important feature of structures is that they break the replacement cycle. Because the structures are not a new content to teach but rather a better way to teach anything, they do not get dropped when a school or district adopts a new initiative. Instead of adopting a new character education program to be used for a few years before it is replaced by some new innovation, character education is taught on a daily basis through the structures a teacher uses. And because the structures become a stable part of the teacher's repertoire, they are not abandoned when a new initiative is adopted. If character education is embedded in the way teachers teach, we have character education in all grades, for all years. We cannot transform for the better the character of the nation if after two or three years we abandon character education in favor of next year's new thing.

Similarly, we cannot engage and develop all of the intelligences of students to their capacity if after two or three years of work on multiple intelligences we move on to the next educational innovation. The development of thinking skills, too, is a life-long process, not to be relegated to a few years of a school or district push. All of the wonderful innovations in education will not add up if they come and go. Structures do not come and go. Once learned, structures become the way a teacher teaches for a lifetime. New structures do not replace old structures — they are additional tools for the teacher, each additionally enriching outcomes for students.

In the early days of training cooperative learning, when I trained teachers in cooperative learning lessons rather than in structures, initial enthusiasm was high, but when I would check back on the teacher later, I would find little cooperative learning being implemented. "Oh, you should have been here Wednesday, we did our cooperative learning lesson on Wednesday." Or, worse yet, if I came back a few years later, I would hear "Oh, you should have been here last year. We were into cooperative learning. Now we have moved on. Now we are doing brain-based learning (or character education, or multiple intelligences, or higher-level thinking, or differentiated instruction, or. ")

This pattern of dropping one positive educational innovation for another is not unique to cooperative learning. Education is plagued by the replacement cycle. Year after year schools or districts drop one powerful positive program in favor of another. Educational programs have a short half-life. As a result, teachers become cynical, hesitant to invest too much in any new program, knowing "This too will pass."

The reason for the replacement cycle is lesson-based innovation. If teachers are trained to do a type of complex lesson to implement a new school or district innovation, even if that lesson works very well, they will eventually stop doing that type of lesson because when the next innovation comes along, there is no way to do two different types of complex lessons at once.

The beauty of structures, an unanticipated benefit, is that they break the replacement cycle. Instead of doing complex cooperative learning lessons, through structures teachers make cooperative learning part of any lesson. So when the next educational innovation comes along, teachers continue to do cooperative learning. Cooperative learning lessons feed the replacement cycle cooperative learning structures break the replacement cycle — they are an integrated approach, not a replacement approach.

What's Just Down the Road?

What's around the corner in our work with structures? We are in progress with a number of advances in our development of structures, including:

Structures for Administrators. This summer we will release a new publication, the culmination of years of work. The publication, Cooperative Meetings 19 , is written for school administrators. It, navigates a step-by-step course toward creating a community of leaders and learners. How do we transform individual teachers into a cohesive community? Cooperative Meetings charts how to use cooperative structures in faculty meetings to build stronger relations, improve staff development, and make collaborative decisions. The Co-op Meetings structures have been proven through years of extensive field-testing.

Kagan Coaching. Laurie Kagan has developed a coaching model for administrators helping their staff implement structures. The model, Kagan Coaching, involves giving teachers feedback in real time while teachers are teaching. After Laurie models Kagan Coaching for an administrator, she steps back and coaches the administrator as she/he steps into the role of Kagan Coach. To accompany Kagan Coaching, Laurie has developed structure-specific observation methods and forms. Her book, Kagan Coaching, is destined to be published before long. Just as a football coach would find it a mistake to wait until the game is over to give his players feedback, the administrators using in-the-moment coaching discover the traditional method of coaching — after the lesson — is too little and too late. Through Kagan Coaching, teachers see immediate benefits from correct implementation of structures.

Secondary Workshops. In the last few years, we have developed a number of content-specific books and workshops for secondary teachers. They love it. "Finally a workshop just for me." Although the structures can be used with any content, secondary teachers love their content and love to have workshops which focus on how to use the structures with their own specialty content. The success of these secondary books and workshop makes it easy to predict that we will be developing more secondary-specific resources as we travel the road ahead.

Structures for the Workplace. For a number of years we have given trainings to apply structures to the commercial world. Major corporations have sent their trainers to our institutes and we have gone out to corporations to give tailor-made trainings. Leaders from General Motors, Xerox, Saturn, Pacific Bell, Firestone Tires, and WalMart are among those we have trained in structures. Positive results include more efficient trainings and improved motivation, teamwork skills, and morale. Given the positive response of the business world to structures, soon we will be publishing a book, Cooperative Learning for a Collaborative Workplace. My crystal ball tells me it will be but the first of a number of publications on structures for the workplace.

Structure Sequences. As teachers become more familiar with structures, they begin to create meaningful, repeatable sequences . Just as the beginning instrumental music student first learns chords and then puts the chords together to play increasingly complex sequences, the teacher creates increasingly complex and meaningful learning experiences by combining and sequencing structures.

Simple structures are combined to make more complex structures: A Three-Step Interview is a Timed Pair Interview followed by a RoundRobin. Mix-N-Match begins with a Stand Up, Hand Up, Pair Up. Timed Pair Share and RallyRobin are steps within Corners and Agree-Disagree Line-Ups. For this reason we carefully sequence our trainings of structures, beginning with simpler structures and using them as building blocks toward more complex structures.

Certain structure sequences become habitual. For example, after I have students brainstorm ideas, it is natural to have them categorize, prioritize, or choose among the ideas. Therefore some of my favorite structure sequences include Four S Brainstorming followed by Categorizing, and Jot Thought followed by Sum the Ranks. It is natural to follow the production of a product with sharing. Thus Team Mind Maps is often followed by Same Number Group Interview.

Frank Lyman developed a frame that can be used to sequence structures, Think-Pair-Share. In his model, there are many ways to think, many ways to pair, and many ways to share, many of which are structures. Sequencing a way of thinking, a way of interacting in pairs, and a way of sharing, the teacher creates a structure or sequences several structures. For example, the teacher wanting students to reflect on the effects of bullying might choose the following sequence: Think/Write: Write some effects of bullying. Tell/Repeat: Students pair up and each tells his/her answers to a partner who repeats them. Suggest: Each pair generates a suggestion to end bullying. Because there are over a dozen ways to think, to pair, and to share, the Think-Pair-Share framework is a structure generator or structure sequencer.

As more teachers become more fluent in a range of structures, it will be natural for us to place greater emphasis on combining and sequencing structures to help teachers create more meaningful learning experiences.

Structures for Next Year's New Thing. Educational innovation is inevitable. We cannot predict what will be around the next bend in the road. We can predict, however, that whatever next year's new vision is, structures will help us realize that vision. How we teach on a daily basis and how we structure the interaction of students with each other and with the curriculum determines the most import outcomes of schooling.

Peeking Through the Telescope

If I try to look beyond the road just ahead, beyond the work in progress, I get more expansive. In a relatively short time we have come so very far in the development of structures. It gives me courage to dream.

When I allow myself to dream of where our work with structures will lead us, some thrilling images come to mind:

• Structures become used so frequently in all classrooms that the next generation of student-teachers find it as natural to use a wide range of structures in their classrooms as the past generation found it to rely almost exclusively on the traditional one-at-a-time question-answer and individual worksheet work structures
• Student teachers are trained in a wide range of structures during pre-service training so each is prepared to give their very first class using a range of structures to deliver a full range of educational experiences
• Schools all adopt some form of SAM club meetings — Structure-A-Month Club meetings—at which teachers work together as a community of learners, learning at least one new structure a month
• All students are fully engaged in every lesson in every class through a range of structures
• All schools show dramatic academic and social gains — like those we have proven occur for schools adopting structures
• All students learn to value the uniqueness and the contributions of every other student
• The wide-spread use of structures brings about a general transformation of social character — each person approaches each other not as someone to best but as a valuable resource to know, understand, and team up with

We have seen dramatic improvements in race relations among students in desegregated classrooms and schools using structures. Is it too much to dream that one day, people of all nations will not see each other as "us" and "them" but rather as "we?" If on a daily basis we make that transformation in our classrooms, when we send our students out into the world, it cannot help but bring us closer to our shared goal of a peaceful and mutually supportive humanity.

Wedding to Prince Charles

Diana Spencer became Diana, Princess of Wales, when she married Charles on July 29, 1981. Their wedding took place at St. Paul’s Cathedral in the presence of 2,650 guests. The couple arrived separately and departed together by a carriage ride through the streets of London.

Diana wore a taffeta wedding dress made with silk and antique lace and 10,000 pearls, created by husband-and-wife design team David and Elizabeth Emanuel. She donned an 18th-century Spencer family tiara with a 25-foot veil. Her ensemble barely fit in the carriage, and it took Diana 3 and a half minutes to walk down the aisle.

The royal wedding ceremony was broadcast on television around the world nearly one billion people from 74 countries tuned in to see what many considered to be the wedding of the century. 

About this Database

This database lists individuals who applied for the Dawes Roll and membership in the Five Tribes: Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee (Creek), and Seminole. Enrollment for the Dawes Rolls began in 1898 and closed in 1907.

I have found my ancestor in the database. What now?

Once you have located your ancestor on the roll, look up their census card and enrollment packet. You can do this at the Research Center or use subscription websites (such as Fold3.com and Ancestry.com). You may also order a copy of a packet from the Research Center. Order online | Order by mail

Before being the Princess, Diana was Lady Diana Spencer. She was the daughter of the 8th Earl Spencer, John Spencer. The Spencer family originated in the 15th century, and it includes a lot of prominent members, like the Princess of Wales, knights, earls, barons, and even Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Even though she wasn’t a Princess before marrying Prince Charles, Diana did have a royal title – Lady. It came from a family of great wealth and status.

Kitty Spencer

Kitty Spencer is Princess Diana’s niece, and her net worth is about $100 million. She is a model.

Charles Spencer

The 9th Earl Spencer, Charles Spencer is the father of Kitty Spencer and Princess Diana’s brother. His net worth is about $154 million.

Princess Diana

When Princess Diana died in 1997, her estimated net worth was about £21 million, which is around $26.5 million today. Much of her money came from her divorce from Prince Charles.

History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925Spencer K. Warnick

[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 469-470 of History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925 , edited by Nelson Greene (Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1925). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 974.7 G81h. This online edition includes lists of portraits, maps and illustrations. As noted by Paul Keesler in his article, "The Much Maligned Mr. Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

Constant study and broad experience have ripened the ability of Spencer K. Warnick, who for more than a quarter of a century has successfully engaged in the practice of law in Amsterdam, his native city. He has aided in framing the laws of his state, also filling other public offices of trust and responsibility, and is now serving as postmaster of Amsterdam. He was born September 14, 1874, a son of Middleton and Marion (Kellogg) Warnick, the former a member of the Green Knitting Company and long a forceful figure in industrial circles of Amsterdam. His death occurred in 1905 but the mother passed away in 1904. The other children of their family were: Lauren K. Katherine, the wife of Joseph L. Hall and Elizabeth, who married N. Carleton Phillips.

Spencer K. Warnick supplemented his public school training by a course in Yale University, from which he was graduated in 1895, winning the A. B. degree. He read law in the office of Judge Nisbet of Amsterdam, and in 1897 was admitted to the bar. He has since engaged in the general practice of law in this city and his clientele is an extensive one. He is a counselor whose judgment is to be relied upon and is equally able in his presentation of a case before the courts. He is retained in a legal capacity by several large corporations and enjoys an enviable degree of professional prestige.

Mr. Warnick was first called to public office in 1900, when he was made assistant district attorney, being at that time but twenty-six years of age. He was a member of the state senate from 1904 until 1906 and left the impress of his individuality upon the laws enacted during those sessions, opposing every measure inimical to the best interests of the commonwealth. In 1916 Governor Whitman appointed Mr. Warnick director for Montgomery county of the New York state military census, and in 1917 he was commissioned major in the New York National Guard. He was assigned to duty in the department of the judge advocate general and served in that capacity until the termination of the World war. On October 1, 1922, he was appointed acting postmaster of Amsterdam and since March 1, 1923, has been postmaster, giving to the city service of a high order. He possesses rare qualities as a public official and has acquitted himself with dignity, fidelity and honor in every position he has occupied. Mr. Warnick has been elected by the board of directors of the Montgomery County Trust Company, first vice president and general manager, and will assume the duties of this position on February 1, 1925.

On June 1, 1898, Mr. Warnick was married to Miss Jane M. Greene, of Amsterdam, and they have two sons: Spencer K. Warnick, Jr., and Henry G. Warnick. The former was born May 23, 1899, and the latter on April 15, 1902. Mr. Warnick is a Mason and belongs to the chapter at Amsterdam, the commandery at Gloversville, Oriental Temple of the Mystic Shrine, and is also an Elk. He is a director of the Antlers Country Club and also a member of the Masonic Club. His name likewise appears on the directorates of the Montgomery County Trust Company and the Young Men's Christian Association and he is one of the trustees of the Amsterdam Public Library, the First Presbyterian church, and the Montgomery County Historical Society. Mr. Warnick is also one of the enterprising members of the Amsterdam Board of Trade, being in complete sympathy with the aims of this organization, as he is with everything pertaining to municipal growth and advancement, and his political allegiance is given to the republican party. The breadth of his mind is indicated by the scope of his interests and an upright, honorable life of great activity and usefulness has earned for Mr. Warnick the unqualified esteem of his fellowmen.

http://www.schenectadyhistory.org/resources/mvgw/bios/warnick_spencer.html updated June 10, 2018

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