Digitization of Photographs from President John F. Kennedy’s Funeral

(An adapted version of this post was published on our previous blog on 8/12/2015.)

By Lindsay Closterman, Former White House Photographs Metadata Cataloger (currently: Archivist, National Archives at Kansas City)

White House Photographs from the state funeral of President John F. Kennedy (digitized in full) capture a time of great significance and grief in our nation’s history, and they (together with the photos from the President’s final trip to Dallas) are among some of the most requested images in the White House Photographs collection. While they were already available for research, the photos are now accessible online to researchers and users worldwide, along with all of the materials in the library’s digitized collections.

JFKWHP-AR8255-1H. Jacqueline Kennedy Departs White House for Funeral Procession to Capitol Building.
JFKWHP-KN-C30750. President John F. Kennedy’s Funeral Procession to St. Matthew’s Cathedral.

The 350 funeral photos span a period of three days, from November 23 to November 25, 1963. Events include: President Kennedy’s body returning to the White House, lying in repose in the East Room of the White House and lying in state at the U.S. Capitol; processions to the Capitol Building and St. Matthew’s Cathedral; the requiem mass at St. Matthew’s; the burial of President Kennedy at Arlington National Cemetery; a post-funeral reception at the White House; as well as photos of the newly-redecorated Oval Office with President Kennedy’s effects, the caparison of the riderless horse Black Jack, and a night view of the eternal flame near the late President’s gravesite.

JFKWHP-ST-C422-115-63. Requiem Mass at St. Matthew’s Cathedral.
JFKWHP-ST-C422-11-63. Burial of President John F. Kennedy at Arlington National Cemetery.

In addition to making the photos available to users all over the world, the process of scanning and cataloging the images makes them searchable in a way that was previously not possible. The metadata for these images enables online users to retrieve images of specific people, such as members of the Kennedy family, administration officials, military officials, heads of state, ambassadors, foreign dignitaries, and members of the clergy. These digital materials combine information found in the Kennedy Library’s collections, as well as in contemporary newspaper articles, books, correspondence from researchers, and firsthand accounts, and they serve to support the continued knowledge-building around this historic event.

JFKWHP-ST-C422-110-63. Flowers at Arlington National Cemetery.
JFKWHP-ST-C422-33-63. Post-Funeral Reception at the White House.

Browse all photos from President Kennedy’s funeral:

President Kennedy’s body returns to the White House

Lying in repose in the East Room of the White House

White House, redecorated Oval Office with President Kennedy’s effects

Departure from the White House and Procession to the United States Capitol

Lying in state at the United States Capitol, departure of Kennedy family

White House, State Rooms and floral arrangements

Procession to St. Matthew’s Cathedral

Requiem Mass at St. Matthew’s Cathedral and burial at Arlington National Cemetery

White House, post funeral Reception

Riderless horse Black Jack’s caparison (saddle, bridle, blanket, sword, boots, and spurs) delivered to White House

Eternal Flame (view from the Lincoln Memorial at night)

21 comments

  1. I still cry when ever I think on this too much. I wasn’t even old enough to vote, but I wanted to have J.F.K. as our President. What a terrible loss for Our Country.

  2. I was not born yet but I have this tremendous admiration for this man gunned down in his prime. I wonder what this country would be like had he not been killed.

  3. He was our last hero. His death does not get easier as time passes, it gets worse. We are the lesser for letting him be destroyed.

  4. I was 6 years old the day he died …it was a beautiful perfect day here in BC . I can remember in 1962 being in Seattle for Opening Day of WORLDS FAIR. President Kennedy opned the fair by telephone …so thrilled to have that memory . I will never forget his voice broadcast over the loud speakers …… He was our last true hero.

  5. I think about him often as life goes on-what the world and this country might have been like had he lived. I miss him to this day.

  6. I was 15 when the President Kennedy died. It was a Saturday morning at my catholic Boarding School in New Zealand when the news came through.The school went from shock to tears and mourning.However his life and legacy has inspired me since that terrible day in Dallas as it has inspired millions around the world. He was an inspirational leader and a great man – the world so much poorer for his loss.

  7. Thinking back on those sad and emotional days It still hits me VERY hard. I was a young wife and mother of three expecting my 4th. He had been to San Diego Ca that year to deliver a commencement speech at San Diego State University. I will ALWAYS regret not going to see our AWSOME and BELOVED President JFK . Since I was in my 9th month I felt I could not drive from Oceanside to San Diego with my 3 small children. My husband couldn’t take time off his job.The day he died I cried all day and cried my self to sleep many nights. I always wonder what this country would have been like if he had served 3 terms like FDR did. God REST the soul of JFK .. I will always feel a strong feeling for Caroline.. God Bless her.

  8. I was seven years old when President Kennedy was killed in Dallas in 1963.I remember I was in the playground at Primary School in Buenos Aires when the news was spread at four o’clock in the afternoon. No live TV at that time. We watched the funeral on TV three days after it had happened.

  9. The mostra importante President of contemporary age! A great, great list vor Usa and the world.I was only 6 years old, but deeply emozionale concerned. And RFK also…the end of our youth, according to Salinger

  10. I don’t mean to be overly dramatic. This is simply a fact. This event began the chiseling away at the heart of our country. I was 10 years old. Now I am 62 years old. This has been to date, one of the three, worst days of my life. It remains as a wound too deep for our country to heal. It was just “too big” for us.

  11. Dynamic, charismatic, articulate, intelligent, handsome, charming, progressive, youthful, optimistic, caring and empathetic. These are some of the many dimensions to JFK’s persona that endeared him to not just America, but to the world. He was a family man; a much loved husband, father, son, brother and uncle. He was God fearing. We loved him because we wanted to see ourselves reflected in him. He projected all that was good about America to the world and it made us feel good about ourselves and made us feel very proud of him and who we were in the 1960s. He gave us hope which was very much in need in the early 1960’s much like it is in great need to day. Is it any wonder that any picture you see of him in crowds of people whether as a Presidential candidate, or as President that people have a glow in their eyes and megawatt smiles? Where is that glow today? Today, that glow is replaced with contempt. JFK’s greatest skill was his leadership. JFK could inspire, he could motivate, he could make us feel good about ourselves yet want to be better. There can be no doubt that the world would be a better place today had both he and Bobby lived to be old men. A final quick remark. I have voraciously consumed a great deal of Kennedy family biographical and political material throughout my lifetime and have had the pleasure of visiting the museum numerous times. Meeting Caroline at a book signing in 2012 was a big thrill. Seeing these pictures, many of them for the first time is very exciting for me. They remind me just how remarkable a woman Jackie was don’t you think? How many women in the universe would have had the personal strength to do what she did in the three days following November 22? Look at the pictures in the receiving line in the Rose Room. Incredible how she could hold it together and muster a smile for so many dignitaries paying their respects.

  12. The memories are still vivid, those were some of the most awful days I have ever experienced. The entire nation was grief stricken, we were glued to the screens of live television from the time of the assassination throughout the burial. I’m still saddened with these memories. As a nation we lost so much promise.It was the beginning of chaotic events that continues until today. The nation still weeps for JFK.

  13. The Kennedy Years – unforgettable, brought back the hope, dreams and aspirations not only of the American people but people the world over.

  14. Too young to remember this great man. I read lots about jfk and I strongly admire his whole great beliefs and his passion for his children perhaps one day I could get to Arlington and pay my respects.

  15. A great leader with a fabulous outlook for hope just a terrible tragic end to one of lives great inspirations.

  16. Gone too soon Mr. President John F. Kennedy, his vision and devotion for peace still active in every corner of the globe. We felt sad even these days, he was a unique friend of Venezuela. My country was so close to his legacy via President Romulo Betancourt another legend of democracy. Both leaders gave their life for a better world. Viva Kennedy, God Bless the Kennedy’s.

  17. Looked through every single photo and cried. Just cried. Couldn’t do anything but. President Kennedy will always be my hero.

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