Date of Award

Fall 12-13-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in History


History & Political Science


College of Arts & Humanities

Committee Chair

Dr. James Moses

Second Committee Member

Dr. Peter Dykema

Third Committee Member

Dr. Gregory Michna

Program Director

Dr. Peter Dykema

Dean of Graduate College

Dr. Jeff W. Robertson


“In Search of Veritas: Kennedy Assassination Conspiracy Theories and the Emergence of an American Culture of Suspicion, 1963-1993” argues that the evolving theories and concepts contained in the literature and media surrounding the Kennedy assassination demonstrate the deteriorating trust in American government institutions that resulted from the political and social climate of the 1960s through the 1980s. The assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas, marked a pivotal and horrific point in American history. The shocking murder and unanswered questions that surrounded the young president’s death traumatized the nation, leaving a psychological wound that persists decades after the event. Utilizing both primary and secondary sources, including assassination literature, public opinion polls, and scholarly articles, the work contends that acceptance of Kennedy assassination theories represented a broader symptom of distrust in public government and reflected how Americans felt of their own history and national trajectory in the latter part of the twentieth century. From substantial to absurd, the theories around President Kennedy’s shocking death reflect a pursuit for personal meaning; one designed to provide a sense of closure to the American public in the wake of the public tragedies and political turmoil in the three decades after the assassination.