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Jacqueline Kennedy – Born on this day in 1929

Jacqueline Kennedy became the First Lady of the United Stated at the age of 31. With her gracious personal style and her passion for history and the arts, she worked hard to transform the White House into a center for American culture.

Jackie soon set about making the White House into a real home for her family. She turned the sun porch on the third floor into a kindergarten school for Caroline and 12 to 15 other children, who came every morning at 9:30. There was also a swimming pool, a swing set, and a tree house on the White House lawn for Caroline and John Jr.

Jackie also thought about what the White House represented to its many visitors and to citizens everywhere. She wanted people to have a greater appreciation of the history of America’s most famous residence and its past inhabitants. 

Her first major project as First Lady was to restore and preserve the White House. She enlisted the aid of many experts, established a White House Fine Arts Committee, and created the post of White House curator. Gathering outstanding examples of American art and furniture from around the United States (including many items that had belonged to former presidents and their families), she restored all the public rooms in the White House.

As FLOTUS, Jacqueline Kennedy planned important dinners and events at the White House and invited artists, writers, scientists, poets, and musicians to mingle with politicians, diplomats, and statesmen. 

After a visit to the White House, the world-renowned violinist Isaac Stern wrote to Mrs. Kennedy to thank her. “It would be difficult to tell you,” he wrote, “how refreshing, how heartening it is to find such serious attention and respect for the arts in the White House. To many of us it is one of the most exciting developments on the present American cultural scene. 

More photos and Jackie history at the JFK Library

What’s your favorite project Jacqueline Kennedy did as First Lady?