Young Jack

As a high school student, Jack Kennedy was an underachiever with a rebel streak. But he grew up to be one of the most compelling figures of the twentieth century. More than fifty years after his Presidency ended in tragedy, John F. Kennedy's vision, intellectual intensity, and personal magnetism continue to fire the public imagination.

Visitors to this exhibit will catch glimpses of "Young Jack" as a boy, a student, a decorated war hero, a young man seeking his life's path. Drawn from the collections of the Kennedy Library, the exhibition presents touchstones of JFK's early life.

Highlights from the exhibition include:


A young Jack Kennedy perches atop the roof at the Hyannis Port house, early 1940s.

© John F. Kennedy Library Foundation in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston. Accession number KFC3008P



John F. Kennedy's Navy "dog tag" from World War II, which he wore with a St. Christopher's Medal and an 1854 gold dollar coin given to him for good luck. The oval silver tag is engraved: John/Fitzgerald/Kennedy/Ensign/USNR-O/T-9/42.

Credit Line: John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston, MA; Gift of Senator and Mrs. Edward M. Kennedy

Museum accession number: MO 2008.13


Coconut Bearing Rescue Message

A Coconut shell with message from Lieutenant John F. Kennedy carved on the surface.  After the crash of his PT 109 boat, Lt. Kennedy gave the coconut to two native coastwatchers to deliver to PT base at Rendova so he and his crew would be rescued. He later had the coconut shell encased in wood and plastic and used it as a paperweight on his desk in the Oval Office.

The message carved on coconut shell reads "NAURO ISL…COMMANDER…NATIVE KNOWS POS'IT…HE CAN PILOT…11 ALIVE…NEED SMALL BOAT…KENNEDY". 

Credit Line: John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston, MA

Museum accession number: MO 63.4852