Exemplars: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

Continuing our year of honoring extraordinary women, today we remember Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. In addition to the entry that appears in Old Money, New Woman below, she’ll be remembered for raising two very fine children. Happy Birthday, Ms. Kennedy.

After attending Vassar, the Sorbonne, and George Washington University, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis landed her first job working as a reporter for the Washington Times-Herald in 1952. As the paper’s “Inquiring Photographer,” she roamed the streets of the nation’s capital asking strangers their opinions on current topics. 

Shortly thereafter, she met and married Jack Kennedy, a senator from Massachusetts. When he was elected President of the United States in 1960, she turned her keen eye for style and design toward overhauling the then-shabby décor of the White House. After burning through her $50,000 budget in a matter of days (!), she created the Fine Arts Committee for the White House, courted private donors, and went to work acquiring pieces of historically significant furniture from museums and collectors.

She soon transformed the presidential mansion into a more elegant space adorned with tasteful antiques, as well as priceless artifacts once owned by the likes of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. In 1962, she gave a nationally-televised tour of the renovated White House. The performance won her a special Emmy Award and helped cement her celebrity status. 

In 1975, when New York City’s Grand Central Terminal train station was dilapidated and in danger of being demolished, she marshaled her considerable resources and saved an architectural and civic treasure.

Today, Jackie—as she will be forever known to millions of women—is widely acknowledged as one of the most stylish women of the 20th century. As an Old Money Gal, she consistently dressed in classic, understated style, and carried herself with dignity and grace, even in the most difficult of circumstances.

The New York Times recently published THIS ARTICLE by author and journalist Ann Mah. Ms. Mah revisits the places and people the future First Lady encountered during her junior year of college in post WWII Paris. Enjoy.

“You have to be doing something you enjoy. That is a definition of happiness.”

Jackie Kennedy

6 thoughts on “Exemplars: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

  1. Interesting article about her, and she echos the sentiment to do (work) that you love! It mentions something that sounds like my absolute dream: “Horse in the City Paris”. I never before had a dream to do an activity, but this is IT for me.

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