A fascinating album of the Kennedy matriarch’s collection of family photos focusing on the first half of the 20th century.
As with most photo albums, this one includes, among an abundance of static group shots and portraits, loads of candid shots of happy-seeming children playing sports, holding pets, reaching milestones, at home, at school, at holidays abroad and by the sea. Rose (nee Fitzgerald) and Joseph P. Kennedy’s family portraits are densely populated. Their brood, begun with Joe Jr. in 1915, grew to include nine children in all with the birth of Teddy in 1932. As if the sheer size of the clan were not enough to engage the casual observer, what makes these photos particularly interesting is that they are, of course, of the Kennedys. They may look at first glance like an ordinary, if privileged, group of American kids marching (or running, swimming and sledding) inexorably toward maturity through the Jazz Age, the Depression and World War II. But among these sometimes-gawky, sometimes-silly, often proud-looking children are the eerily recognizable young faces of the future president, his attorney general, and the longtime senior senator from Massachusetts. “A mother knows,” Rose said of the first time she held her own infant, “that hers is the influence that can make that little, precious being into a leader, an inspiration, a shining light to the world.” The handsomely displayed photos are explicated by straightforward history, snippets of family correspondence, and precise and informative captions. The themes of the collection are happiness, innocence and achievement; the collection ends with Jack’s successful run for Congress in 1946, with only occasional tastes of the tragedies to come.
For students of American politics and history, an intriguing, unique window into the formation of one of the country’s most enduring and controversial dynasties.