Miller Center

John F. Kennedy (1917 – 1963)

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Life in Brief: John F. Kennedy was born into a rich, politically connected Boston family of Irish-Catholics. He and his eight siblings enjoyed a privileged childhood of elite private schools, sailboats, servants, and summer homes. During his childhood and youth… more life in brief »

Essays about John F. Kennedy

About His Administration

First Lady
Jacqueline Kennedy
Secretary of State
Dean Rusk (1961–1963)
Secretary of Defense
Robert S. McNamara (1961–1963)
Secretary of the Interior
Stewart Udall (1961–1963)
Secretary of the Treasury
C. Douglas Dillon (1961–1963)
Secretary of Commerce
Luther Hodges (1961–1963)
Secretary of Agriculture
Orville L. Freeman (1961–1963)
Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare
Anthony J. Celebrezze (1962–1963)
Abraham Ribicoff (1961–1962)

Facts about John F. Kennedy

35th President of the United States (1961 – 1963)
May 29, 1917, Brookline, Massachusetts
Political Party
November 22, 1963
“JFK,” “Jack”
Harvard (1940)
Roman Catholic
September 12, 1953 to Jacqueline Lee Bouvier (1929–1994)
Caroline Bouvier (1957– ); John Fitzgerald, Jr. (1960–1999); Patrick Bouvier (1963)
Author, U.S. Navy Officer, Journalist, Public Official
Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia

Why England Slept (1940); Profiles in Courage (1956)

John F. Kennedy Exhibits

‘JFK and Harold Macmillan on the Cuban Missile Crisis’

Kennedy placed this call after having held crisis meetings with advisers all day. Macmillan received the call around midnight London time. U Thant, acting secretary-general of the United Nations, had been holding round-the-clock talks in New York. In the latest development, US Ambassador to the United Nations, Adlai Stevenson, had met with U Thant earlier that day in New York. U Thant, in turn, had been talking Soviet Ambassador to the United Nations Valerian Zorin.

‘The Ole Miss Crisis’

In the summer of 1962, James Meredith wanted to enroll in the University of Mississippi, the first black ever to do so, and the Kennedy administration was determined to make this possible. These excerpts from an all night crisis management meeting that started late on September 30 reveal the tension that gripped Kennedy and his brother, the Attorney General. September 1962.

‘John F. Kennedy on Politics and Public Service’

In anticipation of someday writing his memoirs, John F. Kennedy periodically dictated notes on recent developments or on other issues he might one day want to include in the book.

‘Troop Levels’

Sending troops into harm's way is arguably the most difficult decision a president confronts. The White House tapes of presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon capture remarkably intimate and candid behind-the-scenes views of presidents agonizing over this decision in another war fought in distant lands for complex geo-political reasons.

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Kennedy White House Tapes

“Fly Me To the Moon”
“March on Washington”

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Citation Information

Consulting Editor

David Coleman

Professor Coleman is an assistant professor at the University of Virginia and Chair of the Presidential Recordings Program, overseeing the John F. Kennedy project, at the Miller Center of Public Affairs. His writings include:

Real-World Nuclear Deterrence: The Making of International Strategy (Co-authored with Joseph Siracusa, Praeger Security International, 2006)

Depression to Cold War: A History of America from Herbert Hoover to Ronald Reagan (Co-authored with Joseph Siracusa, Praeger Publishers, 2002)

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