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John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK) was born to Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy and Joseph Kennedy on May 29, 1917 in Brookline, Massachusetts.  One of nine children, JFK attended Harvard University.  After graduating, he joined the Navy​ and served in the South Pacific during World War II.  Upon his return, he served three terms in the House of Representatives, representing the 11th Congressional district in Massachusetts.  He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1952.  In 1960, at the age of 43, JFK defeated then Vice President Richard Nixon becoming the 35th President of the United States - the youngest man to serve in this office and the first Catholic.  On November 22, 1963, President Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas, Texas.

His Presidency

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is dedicated to the memory of the thirty-fifth president.  Located on a ten-acre park in Boston, MA, the library also offers a digital collection of documents, images and artifacts of JFK's Presidency, including his presidential and personal papers, campaign files, national security files, presidential recordings and personal photographs.

Getting to Know the President: Intelligence Briefings of Presidential Candidates, 1952-2004 by John Helgerson is an online e-book in the Library's collection that provides insight into the "First Customer," the individual who, more than any other, determines the role of intelligence in national security.  Chapter Two explores the presidencies of JFK and Lyndon Johnson.

The Office of the Historian, U.S. Department of State provides insight into crucial historical moments in the presidencies of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson in their online summaries of Milestones: 1961-1968, including the Laos Crisis, the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis, USAID, and the Peace Corps.

Learn about America's decision to go to the moon and JFK's role in that crucial debate from the NASA History Office.  The site offers links to text and audio versions of Kennedy's May 25, 1961 speech, information about Project Apollo, a two-part radio program about the political story behind it, and other information.

For a comprehensive review of JFK's public communications, read Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy.  It is available in the Library's Law Collection, located on the fifth floor of Burton Barr Central Library. 

Explore a Local Connection

The Arizona Memory Project provides access to the wealth of primary sources in Arizona libraries, archives, museums and other cultural institutions. Visitors to the site will find some of the best examples of government documents, photographs, maps, and objects that chronicle Arizona's past and present. Some of the items in its online collection related to JFK include:

JFK throwing the first pitch at a ballgame with Del E. Webb in Sun City

JFK seated with Cabinet members including Stewart Udall

JFK and Stewart Udall at the White House

Audio clip of JFK and Carl Hayden at the Golden Jubilee in Phoenix

The Assassination Image of the eternal flame at JFK's gravesite

In 1992, Congress enacted the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act, mandating that all assassination-related material be housed in a single collection in the National Archives and Records Administration. This collection consists of more than 5 million pages of assassination-related records, photographs, motion pictures, sound recordings and artifacts. Most of the records are open for research and compiled into several databases that are searchable online.  The National Archives also offers access to digitized images, including bullet fragments, Oswald's rifle, revolver and clothing, and the windshield of the President's limousine.

Phoenix Public Library's Government Documents collection also includes the Investigation of the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy: Hearings Before the Select Committee on Assassinations of the U.S. House of Representatives.  All 11 volumes are available for in-library use only.

The official, digital version of the Warren Commission Report is available online from the U.S. Government Printing Office's Federal Digital System.  The 900-page report reflects the work of the commission created by President Johnson and chaired by Chief Justice Earl Warren, charged with investigating President Kennedy's assassination.  The report contains numerous photos, maps and diagrams.

Learn More​

Phoenix Public Library offers a variety of books and DVDs about JFK and his times that are available for checkout.  Among these are:

JFK in the Senate: Pathway to the Presidency by John T. Shaw

Camelot's Court: Inside the Kennedy White House by Robert Dallek

Dallas 1963 by Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis

JFK (Warner Bros.)


JFK, A Presidency Revealed (A&E)

JFK: A Personal Story (A&E)

A Ripple of Hope (Covenant Productions/PBS)

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