An Arrestingly Intimate Look At the Kennedy Family And Their Personal Photos

© John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. Kennedy Family Collection. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston

In the year that’s passed since the centennial of his birth, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum has been hard at work digitizing and publishing no less than 1,700 fragile nitrate negatives from the Kennedy family’s personal collection. Now, it’s clear that it was well worth the wait; altogether, the online photo book of sorts paints a rare portrait of the family that’s so arrestingly intimate, they come across as snapshots of your neighbors, rather than some of the most storied figures in America. Beginning just before the birth of John F. Kennedy and leading up to the early 1950s, the photos do, after all, skip out on most of the family tragedy, stopping a decade short of his and Bobby’s assassinations. There’s no hint of their future or even the White House, though, to be found in the photos of the brothers, whether crammed into a miniature wagon or shirtless on the beach. Indeed, even their mysterious sister, Rosemary Kennedy, is all smiles in the snapshots taken in what turned out to be the years before her ill-fated lobotomy, everywhere from Ireland to Palm Beach. Take a look back at those scenes and more from the good ole days, here.


John F. Kennedy wearing sun tape on his nose on a docked boat with Robert F. Kennedy in Edgartown, Massachusetts during the Edgartown Regatta, July 1941.


Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., Kathleen Kennedy, Rosemary Kennedy, and John F. Kennedy on the porch steps of the house the Kennedy family rented in Cohasset, Massachusetts, circa 1922.


Rosemary Kennedy outside the Kennedy family home in Palm Beach, Florida, circa 1937.


Robert F. Kennedy, Eunice Kennedy, and Jean Kennedy play on a swing set on Halloween in Bronxville, New York, October 1934.


The Kennedy family children swimming at the beach in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, circa 1925-1927.


John F. Kennedy with friends in Charleston, South Carolina, 1942.


Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. and John F. Kennedy outside of the Kennedy family home on Beals Street in Brookline, Massachusetts, circa 1919.


Kathleen Kennedy outside of the Kennedy family home in Bronxville, New York, circa 1935-1937.


Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy with their children in Palm Beach, Florida, December 1937.


John F. Kennedy on the sea grass near the shore of Nantasket Beach, Massachusetts, 1918.


Joseph P. Kennedy Jr., Robert F. Kennedy, Edward M. Kennedy, and a friend swimming in Palm Beach, December 1941/January 1942.


Kirk LeMoyne “Lem” Billings (right) and Robert F. Kennedy (left) playing with a fishing net aboard a boat off the coast of Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, summer 1941.


Rosemary Kennedy near Kilcroney Castle in Bray during her trip to Ireland, circa July-August 1938.


Robert F. Kennedy outside of the Kennedy family home in Bronxville, New York, April 1933.


John F. Kennedy, Kirk LeMoyne “Lem” Billings, and Mary O’Keefe at the Kennedy family pool in Palm Beach, Florida, April 1936.