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 John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, 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.