JFK Timeline – Early Years
1917 (29th May)
JFK was born John Fitzgerald Kennedy in Brookline Massachusetts to Joseph Patrick
and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy
. Known as Jack, he was the couple’s second child, his older brother Joseph Patrick
(known as Joe) was born on 25th July 1915. He is often referred to by his initials JFK.
1918 (13th September)
John’s sister Rose Marie
(known as Rosemary) was born.
Kennedy caught scarlet fever and was in hospital for 8 weeks.
1920 (20th February)
1921 (10th July)
John’s sister, Eunice Mary, was born.
Kennedy began his education at the Kindergarten of the Edward Devotion School.
1924 (6th May)
John’s sister Patricia Helen (known as Pat) was born.
Kennedy transferred to the Noble and Greenough Lower School.
1925 (20th November)
1926 (29th January)
Kennedy attended Dexter School, which was founded by a group of trustees, including his father, after a decision had been made to sell land from Noble and Greenough School.
The family moved to Riverdale, New York to avoid an outbreak of polio.
John Kennedy attended Riverdale Country School.
1928 (20th February)
John’s sister Jean Ann was born.
The family moved to Bronxville.
John Kennedy was sent to Canterbury School, a Catholic boarding school in New Milford Connecticut.
Kennedy had to have an operation to remove his appendix. He was taken out of Canterbury School so that he could have time to recover from the operation.
John attended Choate High School, a prestigious boarding school in Connecticut.
1932 (22nd February)
John’s brother Edward Moore (known as Ted) was born.
John travelled to London with his father, mother and sister Kathleen. He had hoped to enrol in the London School of Economics but became ill and returned to America.
Kennedy enrolled at Princeton University but was taken ill again and had to withdraw.
John began studying at Harvard University.
Joseph Kennedy was appointed ambassador to the United Kingdom.
John, and his brother Joe, went to London, where they worked for their father who was serving as American ambassador.
John Kennedy made a tour of Europe, the Soviet Union, the Balkans and the Middle East to research material for his thesis.
JFK Timeline – World War Two
1939 (1st September)
World War Two
began in Europe when Adolf Hitler invaded Poland. Two days later, Britain and France made formal declarations of war.
Kennedy’s thesis ‘Appeasement in Munich’, later published as the book ‘Why England Slept’, was published.
1941 (26th October)
Despite his medical problems, Kennedy joined the US navy as an ensign.
1942 (7th December)
John Kennedy was given command of PT-101.
1943 (24th April)
Kennedy became commander of a torpedo boat, PT-109.
1943 (2nd August)
John Kennedy’s PT-109 sank after being rammed by a Japanese ship in Blackett Strait, North Solomon Islands.
1943 (1st September)
John Kennedy took control of gunboat PT-59.
1943 (2nd November)
The gunboat PT-59 rescued 87 marines that were stranded on Choiseul Island which was held by the Japanese.
John Kennedy was admitted to the naval hospital in Boston with back problems.
1944 (11th June)
Kennedy was awarded the Marine Corps Medal and a Purple Heart for his actions in saving crew members after his PT-109 sank.
1944 (12th August)
Joseph Kennedy Jr, who was serving in the US airforce, was killed in action.
1945 (1st March)
John was discharged from the navy on medical grounds.
Kennedy began working as a special correspondent for Hearst Newspapers.
1945 (15th December)
The US Navy commissioned the ship USS Joseph P Kennedy Jr in memory of John’s elder brother.
JFK Timeline – Political Career
1946 (17th June)
Kennedy won the Democratic Primary for the Eleventh Congressional District in Boston, Massachusetts. As he rose to prominence he became known by his initials JFK.
1948 (13th May)
John’s sister, Kathleen was killed in a plane crash.
Kennedy was re-elected for a second term in the House of Representatives.
John was diagnosed with Addison’s disease. It was decided not to make the diagnosis public, because it was thought that the illness would lose votes.
JFK was elected for a third term in the House of Representatives.
Kennedy went on a foreign trip with his younger brother, Robert and sister, Pat. They visited India, Israel, Japan and Vietnam.
Charles L Bartlett introduced John to Jacqueline Lee Bouvier
, a journalist at the Washington Times-Herald. They were attracted to each other and began dating.
John Kennedy’s younger brother Robert (Bobby) resigned his post at the US Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn to become campaign manager for John’s election to the Senate.
John Kennedy beat Republican candidate Henry Cabot Lodge and was elected to the U S Senate.
1953 (25th June)
The engagement of John Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier was officially announced.
1953 (12th September)
John F Kennedy married Jacqueline Bouvier, daughter of John Vernon and Janet Lee Bouvier at St Mary’s Church in Newport, Rhode Island. The wedding was followed by a reception at Hammersmith Farm which was attended by around 1200 people.
1953 (13th September)
John and Jackie Kennedy left for a honeymoon in Acapulco, Mexico. When they returned they moved into Hickory Hill, McLean, Virginia.
1954 (21st October)
JFK had surgery to his back to help alleviate his back pain.
John Kennedy had further surgery to his back. While recovering from surgery he began writing a book ‘Profiles in Courage’.
John and Jackie Kennedy sold Hickory Hill to John’s younger brother, Robert Kennedy. They moved to N Street, Georgetown, Washington. They also bought an apartment in Bowdoin Street, Boston, Massachusetts.
John Kennedy’s book ‘Profiles in Courage’ was published.
1956 (17th August)
1956 (23rd August)
John and Jackie Kennedy’s daughter, Arabella, was stillborn.
John Kennedy’s book ‘Profiles in Courage’ won the Pullitzer Prize.
1957 (27th November)
A daughter, Caroline, was born to John and Jackie in New York.
1958 (8th November)
JFK was re-elected for a second term in the Senate.
1960 (2nd January)
John Kennedy announced his intention to run for President of the United States.
1960 (13th July)
JFK won the Democratic nomination for President. He chose Lyndon Johnson as his running mate.
1960 (26th September)
John Kennedy and Republican Candidate Richard Nixon took part in the first televised presidential debate.
JFK Timeline – President of the United States 1960 – 1961
JFK was elected 35th President of the United States.
1960 (25th November)
A son, John Fitzgerald Jr, was born to John and Jackie Kennedy at Georgetown University Hospital.
1961 (20th January)
John Kennedy was sworn in as President of the United States. He was the youngest elected President and the first Roman Catholic President. During his inaugural speech he spoke his famous words “ask not what your country can do for you .. ask what you can do for your country”.
Bobby Kennedy was appointed Attorney General
. The appointment was controversial because he had no previous government experience.
1961 (1st March)
JFK created the Peace Corps. The Peace Corps arranges for volunteer Americans to help in underdeveloped nations providing help with education, health, farming and construction.
1961 (6th March)
Kennedy signed Executive Order 10925 which stated that government contractors had to make sure that everyone was given equal opportunities without prejudice to their colour, race, nationality or religion.
1961 (17th April)
Bay of Pigs
This American backed invasion of Cuba to overthrow Communist Fidel Castro failed and many troops lost their lives.
Vice President Lyndon Johnson was sent to South Vietnam to meet President Ngo Dinh Diem to assess the situation and advise how best to prevent the spread of communism.
1961 (25th May)
John Kennedy stated that America would put a man on the moon by the end of the decade.
1961 (31st May)
John and Jackie Kennedy made an official three-day trip to Paris
1961 (4th June)
John Kennedy met Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev, in Vienna to discuss the escalating crisis over the status of Berlin.
1961 (12th August)
During the night, the Soviet Union erected a wall through Berlin separating the East and West of the city.
1961 (27th October)
A standoff in Berlin between US and Soviet tanks ended after JFK decided that a wall through Berlin was preferable to a war.
JFK Timeline – President of the United States 1962
JFK increased the number of military advisers and special forces in South Vietnam to 11,000.
John Kennedy’s name was linked to that of Marilyn Monroe amid rumours of an affair.
1962 (27th September)
A situation arose in Mississippi when state governor Ross Barnet refused to allow black student James Meredith to attend Mississippi University. Meredith had been granted permission by the courts to enrol at the University.
1962 (29th September)
A riot broke out in Mississippi by whites opposed to the integration of black students. Robert Kennedy responded by sending in the National Guard.
1962 (1st October)
James Meredith became the first black student to enrol at the university of Mississippi
1962 (15th October)
1962 (22nd October)
Cuban Missile Crisis
John Kennedy ordered that a naval blockade be placed around Cuba.
1962 (28th October)
Cuban Missile Crisis
After a tense six-day standoff, the Soviet Union backed down and agreed to remove missiles from Cuba.
1962 (7th November)
Edward Kennedy became Senator for Massachusetts.
JFK Timeline – President of the United States 1963
The number of advisers and special forces in South Vietnam was increased to 16,000. JFK maintained his reluctance to deploy troops.
Kennedy realised that America could not win the Vietnam War. However, he also knew that if South Vietnam fell to the Communists, his popularity would fall and he may not be elected for a second term as President.
1963 (10th June)
JFK signed the Equal Pay Act which promised equal wages for men and women.
1963 (11th June)
Kennedy intervened after Alabama Governor George Wallace refused to allow African American students, Vivian Malone and James Hood, from entering the university. That night he made a television address stating that he would impose legislation to ensure that everyone had equal access to education and equal voting rights.
1963 (23rd June)
John Kennedy began a 4-day visit to Germany.
1963 (26th June)
JFK made a speech in Berlin that included the words “Ich bin ein Berliner”.
1963 (26th June)
John Kennedy began a 4-day visit to the Republic of Ireland.
1963 (5th August)
The United States and the Soviet Union agreed to a nuclear test ban.
1963 (7th August)
A son, Patrick was born to John and Jackie Kennedy.
1963 (9th August)
Patrick Kennedy died aged 2 days from a lung condition.
JFK proposed a joint space exploration project with the Soviet Union but Kruschev declined the offer.
1963 (1st November)
The United States backed a coup that overthrew the government of South Vietnam.
1963 (16th November)
John Kennedy made a visit to the Cape Canaveral space centre.
1963 (17th November)
Kennedy spent the day with his family at Palm Beach.
1963 (18th November)
JFK spent the day visiting various locations in Florida.
1963 (20th November)
John and Jackie hosted a cocktail party at the White House.
1963 (21st November)
John and Jackie Kennedy began a tour of Texas.
1963 (22nd November)
John and Jackie attended a Breakfast at Fort Worth before flying to Love Field, Dallas.
1963 (22nd November, 12.30 pm)
John Kennedy was shot in the head in Dealey Plaza, Elm Street, Dallas, Texas as he was riding in an open-top limousine. During the shooting, the Governor of Texas, John Connally was also hit. Both casualties were rushed to Parkland Memorial Hospital.
1963 (22nd November, 1 pm)
John Fitzgerald Kennedy was pronounced dead by doctors at the Parkland Memorial Hospital.
1963 (22nd November, 1.50 pm)
Lee Harvey Oswald
was arrested and charged with the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
1963 (24th November)
Jack Ruby assassinated Lee Harvey Oswald.
1963 (25th November)
Jackie Kennedy walked behind her husband’s casket to the Cathedral of St Matthew the Apostle in Washington where a funeral service was held. Afterwards John F Kennedy was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
First published 2016, updated and republished Jul 06 2022 @ 11:44 am – Updated –
Harvard Reference for John F Kennedy JFK Timeline:
Heather Y Wheeler. (2016 – 2022). John F Kennedy JFK Timeline 1917-1963. Available: https://www.totallytimelines.com/john-f-kennedy-jfk-timeline-1917-1963. Last accessed July 26th, 2022