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“Dearest Jackie”: On the Death of JFK


November 20th, 2013 - December 15th, 2013

 1548925Posthumous portrait of John F. Kennedy (1917–1963), 35th President of the United States, by Bernard Fuchs. Digital ID: 1548925

To mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy (November 22, 1963), NYPL remembers the horrific tragedy that shook the nation—and the world. A special exhibition, “Dearest Jackie”: On the Death of JFK, features the work of 20th-century masters Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg, as well as a heart-wrenching photograph by the great Elliott Erwitt. At the heart of the exhibition is a poignant condolence letter to Jacqueline Kennedy from Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., written within hours of the assassination. An intimate associate of both Kennedy and the First Lady, Schlesinger puts into words the grief and despair of a nation.

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Letter of condolence from JFK aide Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. to Jackie Kennedy. From the Library's Manuscripts and Archives Division.Letter of condolence from JFK aide Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. to Jackie Kennedy. From the Library's Manuscripts and Archives Division.


Dearest Jackie:

Nothing can mitigate the shame and horror of this day. Your husband was the most brilliant, able, and inspiring member of my generation. He was the one man in whom the country could confide its destiny with confidence and hope. He animated everything he did with passion and gaiety and wit. To have known him and worked with and for him is the most fulfilling experience I have ever had or could imagine.

Dearest Jackie, the love and grief of a nation may do something to suggest the feeling of terrible vacancy and despair we all feel. Marian and my weeping children join me in sending you our profoundest love and sympathy. I know that you will let me know when I can do anything for you.

With abiding love, Arthur


Support for The New York Public Library’s Exhibitions Program has been provided by Celeste Bartos, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, Mahnaz Ispahani Bartos and Adam Bartos Exhibitions Fund, and Jonathan Altman.

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