By Gaia Cloutier, Graduate Student Intern (Simmons University)
We are pleased to announce the opening of Series 14 in the Edward M. Kennedy Senate Files. This collection contains records that are principally connected with Edward M. “Ted” Kennedy’s career in government service, specifically material that was generated by his official duties as Senator from Massachusetts (1962-2009). The newly available series is titled Invitation and Appointment Files, 1962-1966. It consists of 54 archival boxes of records.
Series 14 contains invitations and appointment requests received by Senator Kennedy from 1962 to 1966. It includes invitations to a number of events such as campaign events, speaking engagements, fundraisers, meetings, conventions, performances, receptions, and weddings. In addition, the series contains appointment requests that Senator Kennedy received from Massachusetts constituents, the general public, and government officials. The files hold the initial invitation or appointment request as well as additional material such as a reply from Senator Kennedy, memoranda from his staff, and related correspondence. The invitations are arranged chronologically according to the date of the event. There are also summarized lists of invitations received by Senator Kennedy, which indicate the date an invitation was received, a brief description of the event, who sent the invitation, the date and location of the event, and, often, whether the invitation was accepted or declined. Finally, Series 14 also includes a daily schedule from 1964 and a fall campaign schedule from 1966.
Senator Kennedy received invitations to a wide range of events during his time in office. These included invitations to meet with his constituents, student groups, the general public, labor unions, political groups, and religious organizations. Senator Kennedy also received invitations from public figures, foreign dignitaries, and fellow government officials. While many of these invitations related to his official duties as Senator, others were more informal. In the following invitation, Senator Philip A. Hart from Michigan invites Senator Kennedy to a luncheon of “superb Lake Superior whitefish” in order to help reassure the public that Great Lakes fish are safe to eat following a botulism outbreak, “striking a blow for the fishing industry and for all those citizens who are currently missing the eating enjoyment that our fisheries can provide.”
Not surprisingly, Senator Kennedy received many invitations to local events held in Massachusetts. While he could not always attend these events due to his responsibilities in Congress, he did make an effort to accept as many as his schedule would allow. During his early years in the Senate, he often spent the week of St. Patrick’s Day in Massachusetts, attending festivities throughout the state and serving as the Honorary Chief Marshal of the Evacuation – St. Patrick’s Day Parade in South Boston. The following letters were sent regarding parade arrangements in 1964.
When living in Washington. D.C., during the legislative session, Senator Kennedy and his wife, Joan Bennett Kennedy, were invited to many social events. The couple attended charity events, fundraisers, performances, galas, luncheons, and dinner receptions. They were also frequently invited to formal ceremonies and events hosted by the President, such as this invitation to a White House reception to commemorate the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation.
Many letters in this series bear handwritten notes from Senator Kennedy reflecting his decision to accept or decline the invitation in question, which provides an interesting view into how he chose to allocate his time and arrange his schedule. This material also documents a wide variety of events throughout Massachusetts in the early 1960s and the local organizations that sponsored them.
Please note that the collection contains additional invitation files dating from 1968 to 1975, which are currently closed pending processing. Additional series from the Edward M. Kennedy Senate Files will be made available as they are processed. For the full collection finding aid, please see Guide to the Edward M. Kennedy Senate Files.