Kennedy Presidential Library Opens the John Saltonstall and Al Webb Collections

For Immediate Release: August 1, 2006
Further information: Brent R. Carney (617) 514-1662, Brent.Carney@JFKLFoundation.org

Boston, MA– Today, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum announced it has processed and made available for research the personal papers of John Saltonstall and Al Webb. John Saltonstall was the Director of the Committee of Arts, Letters, & Sciences for PresidentKennedy (1959-1960). Al Webb was a PT boat serviceman and a friend of John F. Kennedy, as well as the Vice President of Sales for Hat Corporation of America (Cavanagh Hats).   The Library’s holdings currently include 246 collections of personal papers.  

The Personal Papers of John Saltonstall, Director of the Committee of Arts, Letters, & Sciences for Kennedy for President(1959-1960) consist of correspondence, letters, campaign materials, newspapers, and magazines from the 1960 presidential campaign of John F. Kennedy.  These record the internal workings of the Committee of Arts, Letters, & Sciences for President Kennedy, including correspondence and form letters that reflect the process of garnering support from “liberal” members of the Democratic Party, as well as political cartoons depicting the political climate of 1960.

John Saltonstall, who was born in Massachusetts in 1916, became part of the eleventh generation of Saltonstalls to graduate from Harvard University.Saltonstall became involved with politics in 1950 when he served for two years as Deputy General Counsel for the Department of the Army. He served as the Director of the Committee of Arts, Letters, & Sciences for President Kennedy and served as delegate to the Democratic National Convention from Massachusetts in 1960 and 1972. Saltonstall ran for U.S. Representative from Massachusetts’s 10th District in 1958, and was a candidate in the primary race for mayor of Boston in 1971.

The Personal Papers of Al Webb, who was a PT boat serviceman and a friend of John F. Kennedy, as well as the Vice President of Sales for Hat Corporation of America (Cavanagh Hats) has also been opened for research. The box of material documents his relationship with John F. Kennedy and includes one series of letters from John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline B. Kennedy and their staff.  Such was their friendship that at a 1961 PT reunion in Washington, DC, Webb approached the President and chastisedhim for ruining the hat industry.  Kennedy disliked wearing hats, but told Webb to wait a week until after Kennedy met with Eisenhower.   In a photograph documenting the event, President Kennedy is seen shaking hands with Eisenhower holding a hat with the label of Webb’s company clearly visible.  It was because of his friendship with Al Webb that President Kennedy carried a hat as often as he did.

Mr. Webb was born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania on February 15, 1920.He grew up in Harrison, New York and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1942. He served on a PT boat in the South Pacific during World War II and became friends with John F. Kennedy. After his discharge from the Navy, Webb returned to New York working with the Hat Corporation of America.

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library’s Archives include 48 million pages of documents from the collections of 340 individuals, organizations, or government agencies; oral history interviews with 1,300 people; and more than 30,000 books.  The Audiovisual Archives administers collections of more than 400,000 still photographs, 7,550,000 feet of motion picture film, 1,200 hours of video recordings, over 7,000 hours of audio recordings and 500 original editorial cartoons.

The Research Room is open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each weekday, and is closed on weekends and Federal Holidays.  Appointments may be made by calling (617) 514-1629.

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is administered by the National Archives and Records Administration and supported, in part, by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, a non-profit organization. The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum and the Kennedy Library Foundation seek to promote, through scholarship, educational and community programs, a greater appreciation and understanding of American politics, history, and culture, the process of governing and the importance of public service.

The Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., with the exceptions of Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.  The Library is located in the Dorchester section of Boston, off Morrissey Boulevard, next to the campus of the University of Massachusetts/Boston. Parking is free. There is free shuttle-service from the JFK/UMass T Stop on the Red Line. The Museum is fully handicapped accessible. For more information, call (866) JFK-1960.