White House black and white portrait of Jacqueline Kennedy

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis  1929-1994

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was born in Southhampton on New York’s Long Island to a wealthy family. As a child, she was skilled at horseback riding but was also very artistic and possessed a gift for languages. She attended Vassar College, spent her junior year in Paris, then graduated from George Washington University in Washington D.C. with a B.A. in French Literature. She then took a job with the Washington Times Herald newspaper interviewing and photographing famous Washington, D.C. residents such as Richard Nixon.

At a dinner party in 1952, she met John F. Kennedy, senator-elect from Massachusetts. Just a year later they were married. His election to the presidency in 1960 catapulted Jackie into the high pressure world of The White House where she immediately began to make her presence felt with a thorough historical renovation of the building. During JFK’s term in office, Jackie traveled with the president, setting new standards for fashion and grace. Her ability to speak French, Spanish, and Italian was extremely helpful to the president during this time.

Five years after JFK’s tragic assassination, Jackie married Aristotle Onassis, a Greek ship owner. Until his death in 1975, she lived mostly in Greece and Paris. She then returned to NYC and her roots as an editor for Viking Press and Doubleday. She was extremely dedicated to historic preservation and worked with the Central Park Conservancy, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and helped lead the successful campaign to save Grand Central Station.

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis could have led a private life of privilege. Instead, she chose to stand out and was able to make a difference in many areas. She remains an inspiration to women and girls around the world.

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