Remembering JFK

The assassination of John F. Kennedy 50 years ago shook the nation and the world. Those who remember it recall that everything stopped. Schools, businesses, normal life stood still for four days. By 1963, most people had television, and the televisions were on when the assassination was reported on live TV. A national day of mourning allowed for all to view the funeral.

President John F. Kennedy’s family leaving the Capitol Building after Kennedy’s funeral,
President John F. Kennedy’s family leaving the Capitol Building after Kennedy’s funeral, 11/24/1963. From the JFK White House Photographs Collection. National Archives Identifier 595952.

But what was the lasting impact? I once asked my grandmother if this was the worst national event she had experienced. “Mercy, no,” she replied. “I have lived through other assassinations and two World Wars. It’s terrible, but we’ll be fine.”  Over time, we all gain historical perspective so that we can view events within a broader context.

So many horrible things had happened in 1963, for some Americans of African descent, the death of JFK symbolized a horrible blow to Civil Rights, to freedom, and to safety.

The National Archives has plenty of resources about John F. Kennedy, his administration, and also the assassination.

Look on and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum’s website.

Some links of particular interest will be:

The President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection—In 1992, the National Archives and Records Administration established this collection pursuant to Public Law 102-526. The Collection contains more than 4 1/2 million pages of assassination-related records, photographs, motion pictures, sound recordings and artifacts.

JFK Fast Facts from the Kennedy Library—Find quotations, dates, and all kinds of useful resources.

The November 22, 1963 Press Kit from the Kennedy Library—Prepared for use by the national and international press, you’ll find a comprehensive set of resources.

LBJ taking the Oath of Office on Air Force One
LBJ taking the Oath of Office on Air Force One, 11/22/1963. Read the oath, see more images, and listen to the audio recording of LBJ taking the oath on the Tragedy and Transition website. (National Archives Identifier 194235)

Nov. 22, 1963: Tragedy and Transition from the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum—This new multimedia site includes more than 400 historic photos, videos, audio, and documents, some available to the public for the first time.

JFK Profile in Courage Essay Contest—Invite your high school students to participate.  The contest deadline is January 6, 2014.

If you are in Boston for the anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination, the National Archives at Boston will offer “Remembering JFK: Observance of the 50th Anniversary of the End of John F. Kennedy’s Presidency.”  This program of music and poetry features a concert by the U.S. Navy Band Northeast Top Brass Quintet, readings by actor Michael Hammond, and a reflection on JFK’s legacy by Jeanne M. Lenza, Massachusetts Teacher of the Year. This free event will take place November 21, 2013, at 6 p.m. at the National Archives at Boston. Registration is requested—email us at

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