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Jackie Kennedy was born Jacqueline Lee Bouvier in Southampton, New York, on 28 July 1929. Her heritage is French, Irish and English, and Jacqueline had a wealthy upbringing that included horseback riding competitions and ballet. Her Catholic family caused a bit of a stir though when her parents divorced when she was 10. After graduating from a Connecticut boarding school, attending Vassar College and George Washington University, Jacqueline worked for the Washington Times-Herald newspaper questioning political figures of the day. This is how she met the man who would become the 35th American president as well as her husband, John F. Kennedy.
Jacqueline Bouvier became known to the public as Jackie Kennedy after her wedding day on 12 September 1953 in Rhode Island. Her official name at the time was Jacqueline B. Kennedy. In 1957, the Kennedys welcomed their first child, Caroline. In 1960, John F. Kennedy campaigned for the United States presidency. Jacqueline wrote a political newspaper column and helped with John's campaign communications while pregnant with their second child.
John Jr. was born a few weeks after his Democrat father was elected on 8 November 1960 as the 35th president of the United States, beating Republican Richard Nixon. As first lady of the White House, Jacqueline, who had studied history and art at college, undertook a large restoration project. She refurbished many of the rooms in the White House and appointed a curator. Jackie Kennedy also started a kindergarten in the building for her own children as well as some others.
Although somewhat reluctantly on her part, Jacqueline became appreciated by the public for her tasteful fashion sense such as her signature pillbox hats, sleeveless dresses, pantsuits and large sunglasses. Jackie Kennedy's easygoing yet elegant style was much emulated by her female fans. Yet, Jacqueline was also very much appreciated in political circles for her communication skills and appreciation of other cultures when she traveled on presidential trips abroad with her husband. In 1963, Jackie Kennedy gave birth to the couple's third child, but the baby, Patrick, only lived for two days due to a severe lung problem.
Several months later, on 22 November 1963, tragedy struck again when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated by a gunman as he and Jacqueline drove through Dallas, Texas. In 1968, Jackie Kennedy married Aristotle Onassis, a wealthy Greek shipping entrepreneur. Jacqueline was once again a widow when Aristotle died in 1975. She spent time with her family and friends as well as working as an editor at Viking Press and Doubleday in New York. Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis died 19 May 1994, at age 64, of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who was Jackie Kennedy and why is she a significant figure in American history?
Jackie Kennedy, born Jacqueline Lee Bouvier, was the First Lady of the United States from 1961 to 1963 as the wife of President John F. Kennedy. She is a significant figure for her influence on American culture, fashion, and historical preservation. Her grace under pressure following her husband's assassination and her efforts to honor his legacy, including the establishment of the Kennedy Library, cemented her status as an icon of dignity and resilience.
What were Jackie Kennedy's contributions to the White House and American culture?
Jackie Kennedy is renowned for her extensive restoration of the White House, where she aimed to showcase the historical significance of the presidential residence. According to the White House Historical Association, she established a White House Fine Arts Committee and a curatorial department to preserve its heritage. Her sense of style also had a profound impact on American fashion, popularizing trends and setting a standard for elegance and sophistication in the 1960s.
How did Jackie Kennedy influence the preservation of historic landmarks?
Jackie Kennedy's passion for history and preservation led to significant contributions in saving and restoring historic landmarks. Her advocacy is credited with the preservation of Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C., and her televised tour of the White House raised public awareness about the importance of historic preservation. According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, her influence helped to inspire the creation of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966.
What role did Jackie Kennedy play following the assassination of President Kennedy?
Following President Kennedy's assassination in 1963, Jackie Kennedy played a crucial role in shaping his legacy. She organized the state funeral, which was watched by millions around the world, and was instrumental in the creation of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. Her poise and strength in the face of tragedy earned her the admiration of the global community and helped to immortalize President Kennedy's memory.
What were some of Jackie Kennedy's achievements after leaving the White House?
After leaving the White House, Jackie Kennedy continued to lead a life of cultural and literary significance. She became a successful book editor, working for Viking Press and later Doubleday, where she helped to bring important works to the public. Additionally, she was a prominent figure in the preservation of New York City's Grand Central Terminal, as noted by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and she remained a respected voice in the arts and humanities until her death in 1994.