Mass card designed by Jacqueline Kennedy for the slain president’s funeral at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington, DC, on November 25, 1963.

The Condolence Mail
The letters came addressed to Mrs. John F. Kennedy, The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D. C.; they came addressed to Madame Kennedy, Washington; to Mrs. President, America. For weeks they arrived at a rate of thirty or forty thousand letters a day. “Mail was coming in and it was being piled in the corridors . . . stacked in enormous cardboard cartons, one on top of another, from the floor to the ceiling,” noted Jacqueline’s press secretary Pamela Turnure in the oral history she and social secretary Nancy Tuckerman recorded for the Kennedy Library.
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More About Dear Mrs. Kennedy


Facsimiles of some of the letters in Dear Mrs. Kennedy

From Chapter 2, “Family and Close Friends”

Pat Skakel Cuffe; handwritten letter to Mrs. Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. Pat Skakel Cuffe was the older sister of Bobby Kennedy’s wife Ethel, and the first of the Skakel girls in whom Bobby Kennedy had taken a romantic interest.


From Chapter 3, “Memories”

Anthony Rosslyn, handwritten letter. Lord Tony Rosslyn (Anthony St.-Clair Erskine, Earl of Rosslyn); had been one of several young British admirers of JFK’s younger sister Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy before she married into the influential Cavendish family.


From Chapter 4, “Political Friends and Foes”

Dr. Benjamin Spock, pediatrician, bestselling author and political activist with SANE; handwritten letter. During his last few months in office, JFK’s standing among liberal activists like Spock rose considerably.


From Chapter 5, “The Written Word”

Arthur Ochs (“Punch”) Sulzberger, President and Publisher of the New York Times; handwritten letter. JFK’s relationship to the Times was cordial but not close, unlike that to Philip Graham, the publisher of the Washington Post.


From Chapter 6, “Hollywood and the Jet Set”

Vivien Leigh, English actress, most famous for her roles as Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind and as Blanche Dubois in A Streetcar Named Desire. At the time she wrote this condolence letter to Jacqueline Kennedy she was recovering from the severe episode of manic depression that had forced her to quit Tovarich, the Broadway musical for which she had recently won a Tony.


From Chapter 7, “Mourning in Every Nation”

Nina Khrushcheva, wife of the Premier and First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union; handwritten New Year’s card. Impeccably gracious during her and JFK’s trip to Vienna for the 1961 summit, Jacqueline Kennedy had gone out of her way to include Mrs. Khrushchev in press photographs and when the crowds called enthusiastically for “Jackie!”


From Chapter 8, “Voices of the Young”

Alice Gloria Crayton, handwritten letter.


From Chapter 9, “A Hero to Every American”

Mass cards made up a substantial portion of all the condolence mail sent Mrs. Kennedy