The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is proud to present a new exhibit highlighting Mrs. Kennedy's 1964 oral history interview. Sealed for 47 years and published in September 2011, it is a series of wide-ranging conversations with historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., in which Mrs. Kennedy reveals her thoughts and impressions on topics spanning John F. Kennedy's early campaigns to the Cuban Missile Crisis.
The conversations cover Mrs. Kennedy's impressions of world leaders and events, her role as First Lady, and her life as a wife and mother living inside the White House.
Selections from the Exhibit
In the spring of 1964, a few months after President Kennedy's death, Jacqueline Kennedy recorded a series of interviews with historian and family friend Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. At the age of thirty-four, with the White House years behind her, she was speaking for the historical record—to preserve and shape her husband's legacy. The interviews, held on deposit here at the Kennedy Library, were sealed for forty-seven years. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis died in 1994. In 2011, the 50th anniversary year of the Kennedy Presidency, her daughter, Caroline Kennedy, decided it was the right time to share these conversations with the public. Selections are featured in this exhibit.
Mrs. Kennedy had a rare combination of gifts—intelligence, courage, discipline, artistic creativity, and a style all her own. She had an adventurous spirit and was an accomplished horsewoman who lived life at a full gallop. Her oral history interview reflects these gifts. As wife of the President, she witnessed historic events at close range and had first-hand experience with world leaders. She had a clear sense of her place in history and significant accomplishments as First Lady, yet she also believed that her primary obligation was to her family. This exhibit joins Mrs. Kennedy's words—her unique way of seeing the world—with the photographs, documents, and artifacts she describes, adding new illumination both to the great events and personalities of the 20th century, as well as to the sensibilities of the woman describing them. Click here to see selections from the exhibit
The White House Years "The Happiest Time"
In her 1964 oral history interview, Jacqueline Kennedy opened a window into the family quarters at the White House, revealing an intimate, multifaceted portrait of her husband, and chronicling the details of domestic life with their children, Caroline and John Jr., that made the years in the White House what Mrs. Kennedy called "the happiest time."
"It was really the happiest time of my life. It was when we were the closest-- I didn't realize the physical closeness of having his office . . . in the same building and seeing him so many times a day."
- Jacqueline Kennedy
Photograph by Cecil Stoughton