5 Things You Didn't Know About Jacqueline Kennedy

On February 14, 1962, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy gave a televised tour of the White House after a massive renovation project in which she searched for and found missing historical artwork and furniture. Here are five things you didn't know about Jacqueline Kennedy and that tour...


Kennedy's Dedication to Furnishing the White House Stemmed From Her Own Frustration as a Tourist # Jacqueline Bouvier first visited the White House in the 1940s as a tourist and was upset by the fact that she couldn't get information about the history behind the art and furnishings in the house. She knew the house must have had Before parade of objects and art over the years, but there were no informative guides to help her. When she made it to the White House as a First Lady, she made it her mission to bring back all of the historical objects and create a guide for anyone who wanted to know about them.

She Needed No Notes When Giving the Tour to CBS Reporter Charles Collingwood # Photo credit: By Robert L. Knudsen - https://www.jfklibrary.org/learn/about-jfk/media-gallery/first-lady-jacqueline-kennedy, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9077738. Kennedy had done such an extensive job restoring the White House that when it came time to film the tour, she was able to tell CBS reporter Charles Collingwood about every piece and room without notes or a script. In fact, she was so good that there was only one scene that had to be filmed again, when she got one person's name wrong.


The Televised Tour Accomplished Two Media Firsts and One Presidential First Kennedy was the first First Lady to ever give someone a tour of the White House on TV—not that surprising a first given how comparatively young TV was in the early 1960s. However, the special was also the first hosted by a woman, and it was the most successful documentary from CBS at the time. Viewer estimates vary, but one put the total as high as 80 million viewers.

So Many Furnishings Were Languishing in Different Storage That Kennedy Had National Park Service Employees Catalog Each Piece Prior to Kennedy's efforts, much of the furniture and art that had been in the White House in various administrations was languishing in several different storage areas all over town. The objects were treated like any other, packed away and forgotten. As part of the restoration, the items were reupholstered and restored at the White House and then cataloged by three women who worked for the National Park Service.

Kennedy's Desire to Restore and Record the History of the White House's Furnishings and Art Led to the Formation of the White House Historical Association Kennedy had a genius idea for funding the restoration. She didn't want to use public money because she knew that the restoration seemed more of a cosmetic project, rather than a historical one. So, she created the White House Historical Association, which is still around today. The association created a guidebook to the White House, and the money earned from those sales became the funding source for the restoration.

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