(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.
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.
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.
Browse all photos from President Kennedy’s funeral: