John F. Kennedy

Friday 22 November is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy,  an event which, arguably, defined a generation. As the thoughts of the world turn once more toward this tragic event it seemed appropriate to research our holdings relating to it. On Sunday 1 December 1963, Archbishop Michael Ramsey delivered the sermon at the memorial service held at St. Paul’s Cathedral.

JFK (3)

Amongst the papers we hold relating to the service is a typescript of the Archbishop’s tribute. (Ramsey 41 ff. 32-33). In it he honours a man ‘who touched something universal in the human heart. … brave to the point of heroism as his actions in wartime shewed, youthful beyond the age when youthfulness always lasts, tenacious when there could be no compromise, infinitely patient when the human touch could win conciliation…’. It is a moving, heartfelt tribute to an inspirational figure, and a reminder that we should not let his tragic end overshadow all the good he did in his lifetime.

Following the assassination, the President Kennedy Memorial Fund was set up in order to construct a memorial plinth in Runnymede, and to provide scholarships for UK citizens to study at select universities in the United States. An appeal was put out to members of the British public for support of this fund. Archbishop Ramsey accepted an offer from the Lord Mayor of London to serve as a member of the Advisory Council for the appeal. We hold several papers relating to this (Ramsey 59 ff.290-298).

A major four year digitisation project has just been completed in Dallas, meaning that thousands of items relating to the assassination are now readily available online. The collection can be found on the Portal of Texas History.

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