First lady, fashion icon, photographer, editor, world traveler, arts patron, historic preservationist — Jackie Kennedy had many roles. Born Jacqueline Lee Bouvier on July 28, 1929, the woman known affectionately as “Jackie O” is arguably the most-beloved first lady in American history. Her style and grace, even in the midst of unspeakable events such as the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, inspired our nation. Join us as we walk through her life in photographs.
Young Jackie rides a pony led by her father, John Vernou Bouvier III, in 1934. Horse riding was one of Jackie’s lifelong loves.
Jackie, pictured at age 9, was only 1 when she first rode a horse. By age 11, she was winning national championships.
“A darling child”
Jackie was an avid reader from an early age, and had read every book on her bookshelves before she started school. According to her first grade teacher at Miss Chapin’s School, Jackie was “a darling child, the prettiest little girl, very clever, very artistic, and full of the devil.”
A child of divorce
Jackie, right, with her mother, Janet Lee Bouvier, and sister, Lee, look very fashionable as they walk through New York City in 1941. After Jackie’s parents divorced in 1940, she split her time between their homes. Always a quiet person, Jackie became quieter and more reserved following the divorce.
Jackie graduated from Miss Porter’s boarding school in Connecticut and entered Vassar College in 1947. After spending her junior year in Paris, Jackie transferred to George Washington University. In 1951 she began a career in journalism as an inquiring photographer for the Washington Times Herald in Washington, D.C. For her newspaper column she interviewed Richard M. Nixon and covered the inauguration of Dwight D. Eisenhower and the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
During her time working in Washington, Jackie met U.S. Sen. John F. Kennedy. Here the young engaged couple is seen sailing while on vacation at the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts in June 1953.
The photographer had become the photographed.
Jackie and Jack married in Newport, Rhode Island on September 12, 1953.
Jackie’s stunning wedding dress was designed by Ann Lowe (1898-1981), one of the first black women to receive acclaim as a fashion designer.
Jackie spent seven years as the wife of a U.S. Senator. When her husband beat Richard Nixon in the 1960 presidential election, her political responsibilities and her family were about to expand. Here Jackie and the Kennedy clan (from left Rose Kennedy, Jackie, John, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, and Patricia Kennedy Lawford) celebrate JFK’s election in November 1960. Jackie would give birth to her second child, John Jr., two-and-a-half weeks later.
Jackie lifts the skirt of her inaugural ballgown as she and her husband, president-elect John F. Kennedy, leave their Georgetown home in the snowfall en route to the inaugural concert in Washington, D.C., Jan. 19, 1961.
Jackie Kennedy in 1961. The first lady quickly became a style icon thanks to designer Oleg Cassini.
As first lady, Jackie had to balance the obligations of the office with the responsibilities of taking care of her young family. Here Jackie, JFK, and their children, John Jr., left, and Caroline, vacation at their summer house in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, in 1962.
Jackie felt a great obligation to her country, but her first priority was her family. “If you bungle raising your children,” she told a reporter, “I don’t think whatever else you do well matters very much.” Here Jackie and JFK Jr. share a moment in the White House nursery.
Jackie is shown here with CBS reporter Charles Collingwood during her Emmy-winning television tour of the White House in February 1962.
Jackie rides horses with her children, John Jr., on his mother’s lap, and Caroline, in 1962.
Here Jackie, right, rides a camel with her sister, Princess Lee Radziwill, in Karachi, Pakistan during a goodwill visit in 1962.
Jackie and the president greet the crowd at Love Field in Dallas upon arriving for a campaign tour, Nov. 22, 1963.
In an instant, everything changed. John Jr., age 3, salutes his father’s casket in Washington, D.C., Nov. 25, 1963. Widow Jackie, center, and daughter Caroline are accompanied by the late president’s brothers, U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, left, and U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.
Life goes on
Jackie marries Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis in 1968 and becomes Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy Onassis aka Jackie O.
Jackie’s second marriage was short-lived (Ari Onassis died of respiratory failure in 1975) but the Jackie O nickname endured.
Following Onassis’ death, Jackie began a new career as a book editor in 1975. She worked for Viking Press for several years before moving to Doubleday in 1978.
In the 1970s, Jackie (pictured with Bess Myerson) led a successful campaign to save New York City’s Grand Central Terminal from demolition.
Jackie and Caroline attended JFK Jr.’s graduation from the New York University School of Law in 1989.
Jackie with deputy president of the African National Congress Nelson Mandela during his 1990 visit to the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston.
Jackie with Maurice Tempelsman, her companion from the mid-1970s until her death in 1994.