Peace Corps Resources from the JFK Library Website

In 1961, President Kennedy signed Executive Order 10924 establishing the Peace Corps. Teachers who are working on civic engagement projects with students may be particularly interested in primary and secondary sources related to the formation and first years of the Peace Corps including audio, video and textual materials.

About this Resource

Grade Level
Curricular Resource Type
Resource Guides / Packets
Curricular Resource Subject Area
Civics and US Government
US History
Curricular Resource Topic
Civic Education and Engagement
The Cold War
International Relations
Curricular Standards
Common Core
C3 Framework for Social Studies
National History Standards (UCLA)
National Council of Teachers of English
Massachusetts Framework - English Language Arts
Massachusetts Framework - History and Social Science

JFK in History: The Peace Corps
Explore a brief overview of the Peace Corps with links to an audio clip of JFK’s March 1st statement upon signing Executive Order 10924 forming the Peace Corps and a Universal Newsreel about the Peace Corps dated March 13, 1961.

San Francisco Cow Palace Speech, November 2, 1960
View the text of this campaign speech in which President Kennedy promotes the idea of a peace corps.

President Kennedy’s March 1, 1961 News Conference
View a video of Kennedy’s press conference during he which discusses the formation of the Peace Corps. An audio recording and transcript can be found here.

Audio Recording of Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt and President Kennedy discussing the Peace Corps, March 1, 1961
In this ten-minute audio recording, former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt asks Kennedy how he came upon the idea of the Peace Corps and for more details about the program.

Remarks on the Peace Corps, March 9, 1961
Listen to an audio recording (approximately three minutes) from the White House of President Kennedy discussing the mission of the Peace Corps and the importance of public service among America’s youth.

Undated, handwritten letter from Sargent Shriver to President Kennedy concerning his proposed appointment as Director of the Peace Corps
These pages come from the President’s Office File collection in a folder titled “Peace Corps, 1961: January-June.”
Page 1, Page 2, Page 3

Undated Peace Corps Volunteer Questionnaire
These pages come from the President’s Office File collection in a folder titled “Peace Corps, 1961: January-June.”
Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4

Sargent Shriver Biography
Visit this web page to access a brief biography of Sargent, Shriver, the first director of the Peace Corps.

Image of Sargent Shriver and first Peace Corps volunteers scheduled for overseas assignment, August 28, 1961
Shriver leads eighty Ghana and Tanganyika Peace Corps Volunteers to the White House where President Kennedy gave them a personal sendoff. A description of the meeting can be found here.

January 8, 1962 Shriver correspondence with President Kennedy expressing concern about the Peace Corps' reputation abroad
From the President’s Office File collection in a folder titled “Peace Corps, 1962: January-March.”
January 8, 1962 letter from Shriver to Kennedy
Clipping from the January 6, 1962 Washington Post
Overseas statements about the Peace Corps:  Page 1, Page 2

President Kennedy’s Remarks on the Peace Corps, June 14, 1962
In this brief audio clip (1:39), recorded in the White House Cabinet Room, President Kennedy invites people to join the Peace Corps.

Undated 26-page Peace Corps Volunteer Application (From United States Peace Corps Records, General Publications, 1963-1989)
View a full Peace Corps volunteer application from our archives (undated).

President’s Desk Recording: Peace Corps Director Sargent Shriver and President Kennedy
In this April 2, 1963 telephone conversation, Shriver expresses concern that the CIA is inserting CIA agents among the Peace Corps volunteers and Kennedy discusses his desire to get returned Peace Corps volunteers in the Foreign Service.

Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Collection (some digitized)
Some of this collection has been digitized. Scroll down to the “Container List’ and expand it. You can find many oral history recordings that have been digitized and are available on our website.

Kennedy Library Forum: 50th Anniversary of the Peace Corps (video)
Watch the video from this March 3, 2011 Kennedy Library Forum celebrating the Peace Corps with former Peace Corps volunteers Sarah Chayes, Chris Dodd, Elaine Jones, Joe Kennedy III and Paul Theroux, who shared their memories of serving and how their experiences changed their lives. Stanley Meisler, author of When the World Calls: The Inside Story of the Peace Corps and Its First Fifty Years, moderated.

Kennedy Library Forum: Remembering Sargent Shriver (video and transcript)
In this June 15, 2012 Kennedy Library Forum,  Mark Shriver discussed his book, A Good Man, about his late father R. Sargent Shriver, the first director of the Peace Corps, with Richard Parker, Lecturer in Public Policy and Senior Fellow at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.