Timeline: Kennedy Family Chronology


1888
September 6: Joseph Patrick Kennedy is born in Boston to former stevedore, saloon owner, and local politician Patrick Joseph Kennedy and his wife Mary Augusta Hickey, daughter of an affluent family from suburban Brockton, Massachusetts.

1890
July 22: Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald is born in Boston to local politician John F. Fitzgerald and Mary Josephine Hannon.

1895
P. J. Kennedy helps to organize the Columbia Trust Company, Boston's only Irish-owned bank.

1908
Joe Kennedy graduates from Boston Latin School and enters Harvard College as a member of the class of 1912.

1910
June: Rose Fitzgerald graduates from Manhattanville Sacred Heart School in New York.

1912
July: Joe begins his banking career as a clerk for Columbia Trust Company; two years later he will organize resistance to a takeover bid, and become president of the bank at age 25.

1914
October 7: Joe Kennedy marries Rose Fitzgerald. They settle in Brookline, Massachusetts, and start their family.

1915
July 25: Joe and Rose Kennedy's first-born, Joseph Patrick Kennedy Jr., known as Joe Jr., is born.

1917
May 29: John Fitzgerald Kennedy, known as Jack, is born.

October: Joe Sr. opposes World War I. He becomes assistant general manager of Bethlehem Shipbuilding's Fore River Plant in Quincy, Massachusetts, and is able to avoid active military service.

1918
September 13: Daughter Rosemary is born. Within her first year, it is apparent that she has serious learning disabilities.

1919
June: Joe Sr. joins the Hayden, Stone and Co. brokerage firm in the heyday of the unregulated stock market. He will open his own stock trading business four years later.

1920
February: Kathleen Kennedy, known as Kick, is born. Jack, not yet three years old, nearly dies of scarlet fever.

1921
July 10: Joe and Rose Kennedy's third daughter, Eunice Kennedy, is born.

1924
May 6: A fourth daughter, Patricia Kennedy, is born.

1925
November 20: A third son, Robert Kennedy, is born.

1926
February: Joe Sr. enters the movie business as a producer.

1927
September: The Kennedy family moves to Riverdale, New York. They will continue to live in the New York area, summering at Hyannis Port on Cape Cod, Massachusetts and maintaining a residence in Palm Beach, Florida.

1928
February 20: Joe and Rose's fifth and youngest daughter, Jean Ann Kennedy, is born.

1929
October 29: The New York stock market crashes. Anticipating problems, Joe Sr. has already liquidated his substantial long-term investments. Joe will later deny, then admit, that he continued to make money in the stock market by selling short while the market fell.

1932
February 22: Edward Moore Kennedy is born. He will be the last of Joe and Rose Kennedy's nine children; oldest brother Joe is nearly seventeen years old.

Joe Sr. energetically backs Franklin Delano Roosevelt's successful bid for the presidency.

1933
Anticipating the repeal of Prohibition, Joe Sr. capitalizes on his relationship with President Roosevelt by securing lucrative liquor distribution licenses in Great Britain.

1934
July 2: FDR appoints Joe Sr. chairman of the new Securities and Exchange Commission, charged with regulating the manipulation of stock prices that Kennedy had mastered decades earlier. "The appointment is appalling," says one editor. "Kennedy is that worst of economic parasites, a Wall Street operator." Yet after 14 months of service, even critics will concede that he has served well.

September: After a year spent studying in London, Joe Jr. enrolls as a freshman at Harvard.

1935
October: Jack enrolls at Princeton, having withdrawn from the London School of Economics and Political Science with an attack of jaundice. He will leave after one semester due to ill health.

1936
Joe Sr. joins Roosevelt's presidential re-election campaign. With help from New York Times journalist Arthur Krock, Kennedy publishes I'm for Roosevelt, a book that explains how Roosevelt helps capitalists.

September: Jack enters Harvard College as a freshmen.

1937
April: Joe Sr. is appointed head of the newly-established U.S. Maritime Commission. He publicizes his achievements successfully enough to be featured on the cover of Fortune magazine.

1938
January 5: After intense lobbying, FDR nominates Joe Sr. ambassador to Great Britain . Two months later, Joe Sr. will arrive in London, followed soon after by Rose, Kick and the four youngest Kennedys.

June: Joe Jr. graduates from Harvard College. Joe Sr.'s pique at not being offered an honorary degree from the university prevents him from attending his son's graduation.

October 19: Ambassador Kennedy argues for co-existence with dictatorships in a speech at the Trafalgar Day dinner of the Navy League.

1939
March 13: The Kennedy family attends the coronation of Pope Pius XII. Jack travels through Germany, Poland and Russia on the eve of World War II, reporting to his father on the imminence of war.

August 23: Germany and the Soviet Union sign a ten-year non-aggression pact.

1940
June: Jack graduates from Harvard College. With Arthur Krock, he reworks his senior thesis, "Appeasement at Munich," into a book published as Why England Slept. It receives positive reviews and becomes a bestseller.

June 14: Paris falls to the German army.

September 7: Germany begins the Blitz: nightly bombings on the city of London.

October: Joe Sr. returns to the United States, asking to be relieved of his ambassadorial post.

November 5: Roosevelt is reelected to a third term.

November 8: In an interview with The Boston Globe, Joe Sr. reiterates his views on staying out of the war for an American audience.

December 2: Joe Sr. officially resigns as ambassador to England.

1941
Joe Jr. and Jack both enlist in the Navy. Joe Jr. is sent to flight school; Jack is commissioned as an ensign, joining the Office of Naval Intelligence.

Kathleen joins the Washington Times-Herald.

Without consulting Rose, Joe Sr. arranges for Rosemary to have a frontal lobotomy. The operation leaves their daughter in worse condition, and she will be institutionalized for the rest of her life.

Jack begins an affair with Inga Arvad, a married Dane falsely suspected of being a Nazi spy. The FBI monitors the relationship.

1942
January: Jack is transferred from Naval Intelligence to the Navy shipyard at Charleston, South Carolina. Within the year he graduates from Officer Training at Northwestern University and Torpedo Boat School as a PT boat skipper.

May 6: Joe Jr. receives his naval wings -- with his father in attendance.

1943
June: Kathleen begins working for the Red Cross.

August 2: A Japanese destroyer rams PT 109 off the Solomon Islands; skipper Jack Kennedy loses two men immediately. Despite being stranded in the middle of the Pacific, he manages to save the rest of his crew. His valor will earn him Navy and Marine Corps medals.

October 5: Just shy of his eighteenth birthday, Robert Kennedy enlists in the Naval Reserve.

1944
May 6: Kathleen marries a British lord, William Cavendish.

August 12: Joe Jr. dies on a secret mission flying over the English Channel. The Naval Cross will be awarded posthumously. Joe Sr. begins to transfer his ambitions to his second son.

September 9: William Cavendish is killed in battle against the Germans. Kathleen Kennedy is widowed after only four months of marriage.

November: Robert Kennedy enrolls in Harvard College.

1945
Out of the military, Jack begins a career as a journalist, reporting on the charter for the new United Nations in San Francisco and on the British Parliament.

November: Joe Sr. buys Chicago's Merchandise Mart, the largest privately-owned building in the world.

1946
February: Robert F. Kennedy begins a tour of duty aboard the U.S.S. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr.

April: Jack announces that he will run for Massachusetts' 11th Congressional district seat, left vacant by once-again-mayor James Michael Curley. His grandfather, John "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald, who held the seat a half-century earlier, campaigns with him. Once Kennedy wins the primary, he is a shoo-in for the seat in Democratic Boston. He will represent his district for the next six years.

1947
May 13: Kathleen is killed in a plane crash over southern France.

Fall: Jack becomes ill in London. He is diagnosed with Addison's disease, a hormonal disorder that causes fatigue and compromises the immune system.

1948
Robert Kennedy graduates from Harvard College and enters law school at the University of Virginia.

1950
John "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald dies.

Robert Kennedy marries Ethel Skakel.

Edward M. (Ted) Kennedy enters Harvard College.

1951
May: Ted is caught cheating on an exam and is expelled from Harvard. He enlists in the Army and will serve for the next 16 months.

July 4: Kathleen Hartington Kennedy is born to Robert and Ethel. She is Joe and Rose's first grandchild. Robert and Ethel will have 10 more children.

1952
Jack wins a place in the United States Senate, unseating the descendant of a Boston Brahmin family, Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. Jack's brother Robert manages the campaign.

1953
January: Robert Kennedy becomes assistant counsel to the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations chaired by Joseph McCarthy.

May 23: Eunice Kennedy marries Robert Sargent Shriver Jr.

September 12: Jack marries Jacqueline Bouvier.

1954
April 24: Patricia Kennedy marries Peter Lawford.

October 21: Jack nearly dies during a major spinal operation. A second operation, four months later, will also have complications. During his convalescence, he will write Profiles in Courage, published in 1956.

May 19: Jean Ann Kennedy marries Stephen Edward Smith.

June: Ted graduates from Harvard and enrolls in the University of Virginia Law School.

August: Adlai Stevenson throws the choice of a running mate to the Democratic convention. Senator Kennedy is a candidate, but Estes Kefauver is chosen.

1956
Jacqueline Kennedy gives birth prematurely to a stillborn daughter. Jack is in France.

1957
Profiles in Courage wins the Pulitzer Prize for biography.

The Senate Rackets Committee investigates organized labor. Jack Kennedy is a member; Robert Kennedy is the chief counsel.

As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Jack Kennedy argues for the independence of Algeria from France.

November 27: Daughter Caroline Bouvier Kennedy is born to Jacqueline and Jack Kennedy.

1958
November 4: Jack is re-elected to the Senate.

November 29: Ted Kennedy marries Virginia Joan Bennett.

1960
January: Jack announces his candidacy for the presidency. The viability of a Catholic candidate is tested in state primaries throughout the year.

July: Jack Kennedy wins the nomination for president at the Democratic convention in Los Angeles.

September 26: Kennedy debates Republican candidate Richard Nixon in the first of four televised meetings.

November 8: John F. Kennedy is elected the 35th president of the U.S. He is the youngest president ever to be elected -- and the first Roman Catholic.

November 25: John Fitzgerald Kennedy Jr. is born to Jacqueline and Jack Kennedy.

1961
January: Joe Kennedy insists that Robert F. Kennedy be given a cabinet appointment; Robert is named attorney general.

In his inaugural address, Jack Kennedy urges Americans, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."

At a time of deep Cold War fears, Jack is counseled on a counterinsurgency plan against Fidel Castro's Communist government in Cuba.

March: President Kennedy signs into law the creation of the Peace Corps.

April 16-18: The U.S.-backed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba is a failure.

May 25: President Kennedy announces his goal to land a man on the moon and return him to earth before the end of the decade, and before the Soviets do.

May 29: President Kennedy meets Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev in Vienna. The meeting ends badly.

August: The Soviets build a dividing wall in the German city of Berlin.

December 19: Joe Sr. suffers a stroke. He is paralyzed and will remain unable to speak for the last eight years of his life.

1962
March: Ted resigns as assistant district attorney in Suffolk County and announces his candidacy for his brother Jack's unexpired Senate seat.

May 19: At President Kennedy's 45th birthday party at Madison Square Garden, Marilyn Monroe sings a breathless "Happy Birthday" to the president.

September: James Meredith, the first black student to enroll, arrives at the University of Mississippi. Local protesters stridently oppose school desegregation. On orders of attorney general Robert Kennedy, three hundred federal marshals accompany Meredith; a deadly riot breaks out.

October: The discovery of Soviet ballistic missiles in Cuba engulfs the presidency in crisis. After numerous rounds of public and private diplomacy, the Cuban Missile Crisis is resolved. The Soviets will remove their missiles, and the United States will remove similar missiles from Turkey in the near future.

November 6: The people of Massachusetts elect Ted Kennedy to the U.S. Senate.

1963
June: President Kennedy calls for a moratorium on nuclear weapons tests.

Kennedy gives a national television address on civil rights.

August 7: A third child, Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, is born to the President and First Lady; he will live only two days.

August 25: Robert Kennedy declares his candidacy for a U.S. Senate seat for New York held by Republican Kenneth Keating. He will resign as attorney general weeks later.

November 22: President Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas. Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson takes the oath of office on Air Force One.

November 29: Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren chairs a commission established to investigate the death of President Kennedy.

1964
June: Senator Ted Kennedy's back is broken in a plane crash that kills his aide and the pilot.

September 24: The Warren Commission report concludes that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in the assassination of President Kennedy.

October: Pursuit of Justice by Robert Kennedy is published.

November 3: Lyndon Johnson is elected president; Robert Kennedy is elected to the Senate.

1966
February: Patricia Kennedy divorces Peter Lawford.

June: On one of his many foreign trips, Senator Robert Kennedy addresses students in racially segregated South Africa, and emphasizes "the enlargement of liberty for individual human beings."

December 8: Robert Kennedy announces the creation of the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, a private-public partnership designed to address poverty in a Brooklyn, New York neighborhood.

1967
April: Traveling through the Mississippi delta, Robert Kennedy is confronted with extreme poverty in rural America.

1968
March: After much deliberation, Robert Kennedy announces his candidacy for the presidency. Although late to the race, he wins primaries in Washington, D.C., Indiana, Nebraska, and South Dakota.

June 5: After winning the California primary, Robert Kennedy is shot in Los Angeles; he dies the next day. The Los Angeles Police Department determines that Sirhan Sirhan, a deranged Palestinian, acted on his own.

July: Eunice Kennedy Shriver convenes the first Special Olympics for people with mental retardation in Chicago's Soldiers Field. The organization quickly expands and by 2003 will boast 1 million participants in more than 150 nations.

1969
July 18: Following an appreciation party for volunteers on Robert Kennedy's campaign, Senator Ted Kennedy drives his car off a bridge at Chappaquiddick, Massachusetts. Kennedy manages to escape; his passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne, does not. Kennedy will not report the accident for hours.

July 25: Ted Kennedy delivers a national television address to explain his actions at Chappaquiddick.

November 18: Joe Sr. dies. He is survived by five of his nine children and by his wife Rose.

1970
November 3: Ted Kennedy is reelected to the Senate, but loses his post as Majority Whip. He chairs the Senate Health Committee.

1979
November: Ted Kennedy announces his candidacy for the 1980 presidential election.

1980
January-August: Ted Kennedy wins Democratic primaries in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia, California, New Mexico, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and New Jersey. The rest go to the incumbent, President Jimmy Carter.

August: In an emotional speech to the Democratic national convention, Ted withdraws his bid for the presidency.

1984
David Kennedy dies of an apparent drug overdose on April 25.

1982
December: Ted Kennedy announces he will not run for president in 1984. After 24 years of marriage, he divorces his wife Joan.

1985
December: Ted Kennedy announces he will not be a candidate for President in 1988.

1987
Joseph Patrick Kennedy II, son of Robert Kennedy, is elected to Congress from the 8th District of Massachusetts. He will serve until 1999, when he steps down to run the Citizens Energy Corporation, a non-profit organization negotiating affordable energy for the poor.

1992
Ted Kennedy marries Victoria Reggie.

1994
Ted Kennedy's son, Patrick Joseph Kennedy, is elected to Congress from Rhode Island's First District. He still serves in 2003.

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis dies in her apartment of cancer on May 19, 1994.

1995
January 18: Robert Kennedy's oldest child, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, is sworn in as lieutenant governor of Maryland. Her bid to be Maryland's governor in 2002 will fail.

January 22: Family matriarch Rose Kennedy dies, just a few months short of her 105th birthday.

1997
Michael Kennedy dies in a skiing accident on December 31, 1997 in Colorado.

1999
July 16: En route to the wedding of cousin Rory Kennedy, John F. Kennedy, Jr. and his wife Carolyn Bessette Kennedy die in an airplane accident off the coast of Massachusetts.


Information on this page is credited to PBS from their show The Kennedys, The American Experience


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