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Jackie Kennedy: Queen of Camelot and Style Icon of the 1960s

Today’s post comes from Marisa Hawley, intern in the National Archives Strategy and Communications office.

As part of the “six weeks of style” celebration to recognize the Foundation for the National Archives’ partnership with DC Fashion Week, we are showcasing fashion-related records from our holdings. This week’s fashion theme is 1960s: The Times (and Fashion) They Are A’ Changin

Mrs. Kennedy in the Diplomatic Reception Room, 05 December 1961. (John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, National Archives)

Mrs. Kennedy in the Diplomatic Reception Room, 05 December 1961. (John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, National Archives)

When John F. Kennedy became President of the United States at the age of 43, he became not only the youngest President elected but arguably one of the funniest, intelligent, and charismatic. The charm and optimism that he and his family embodied captivated the American public in an entirely new way, and his term—though tragically cut short—was affectionately known as Camelot. If President Kennedy was the King Arthur of this golden era, however, there is no doubt that Jacqueline Kennedy was the trendsetting queen.

First Lady Jackie Kennedy, along with her husband, firmly believed that the White House was a place where America’s thriving culture was to be promoted, showcased, and celebrated. Her respect for the arts was also reflected in her own signature style as she became a symbol of sophisticated fashion.

Although Jackie discouraged the excessive focus on her appearance in the media, her unique and refined wardrobe certainly set a new standard during her time in Washington. She quickly became an international style icon, influencing the fashion of not only women across America, but around the world—and continues to do so today.

In this photograph of a presentation of a silver pitcher to the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Jackie is pictured in one of her distinctive looks: a bold red ensemble of a boxy jacket with a straight skirt.

Jackie’s own personal fashion icon was Audrey Hepburn, which is why the First Lady’s style typically reflected Hepburn’s old Hollywood glamour. Jackie was known for wearing classic, tailored suits and ladylike dresses in strong, solid colors—especially pink, yellow, red, and ivory.

First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Feeds Horse in India, 19 March 1962. (John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, National Archives)

First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Feeds Horse in India, 19 March 1962. (John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, National Archives)

Her daywear generally consisted of simple sleeveless dresses, wrist-length gloves, and strands of pearls or a brooch. Around the White House, it was common to see Jackie in high-waist trousers with a trim blouse, turtleneck, or cashmere sweater. She almost always topped off her daytime look with her iconic black, oversized sunglasses—a trend that has yet to go out of style.

When she was traveling to foreign countries—like India—she was mindful to dress according to the custom of the host nation.

For eveningwear, Jackie usually went for the sleeveless, single-colored dress with a bateau neckline—one that runs horizontally, front and back, across the collarbone.

President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy visit with members of the American Ballet Theatre, 22 May 1962. (John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, National Archives)

President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy visit with members of the American Ballet Theatre, 22 May 1962. (John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, National Archives)

She also could be found at nighttime events wearing long sheath dresses or off-the-shoulder gowns. Jackie is pictured at a White House dinner here with a white dress and matching elbow-length gloves.

Perhaps her most recognizable outfit is the watermelon-pink suit with her trademark pillbox hat that she wore the day her husband was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.

This iconic pink suit was designed as an exact replica of the Chanel suit with Chanel fabric, but made in the U.S. to avoid political criticism. Despite the bloodstains from the tragic motorcade, Jackie insisted on keeping the suit on for the swearing in of Lyndon B. Johnson later that day.

The suit is currently housed in the National Archives in College Park, Maryland, although the pink hat has disappeared before the rest of the outfit made its way to the Archives.

Another of her pillbox hats, however, is available for viewing in the National Archives online collection.

Examine more “signature styles” and history-making signatures in our current exhibition, “Making Their Mark: Stories Through Signatures,” in the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC.

To further explore Jacqueline Kennedy’s signature style, check out the First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Collection online at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library website.

President and Mrs. Kennedy Deplane from Air Force One at Love Field, Dallas, Texas, 11/1963. (National Archives Identifier 6816409)

President and Mrs. Kennedy Deplane from Air Force One at Love Field, Dallas, Texas, 11/1963. (National Archives Identifier 6816409)


The Name Speaks for Itself

George Washington’s nomination of Alexander Hamilton and others, front, September 11, 1789. (Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives)

George Washington’s nomination of Alexander Hamilton and others, front, September 11, 1789. (Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives)

Today’s post comes from Dan Ruprecht, intern in the Center for Legislative Archives at the National Archives in Washington, DC. 

On September 11, 1789, President George Washington sent the first cabinet nomination under the new U.S. Constitution to the Senate. Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution gave the power to determine federal officers to both the executive and legislative branches:

[The President] shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law.

Washington’s message was brief and to the point: “Gentlemen of the Senate, I nominate. . .” followed by a list of names and their respective positions, establishing a precedent for brief nominations that continues today.

George Washington’s nomination of Alexander Hamilton and others, back, September 11, 1789. (Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives)

George Washington’s nomination of Alexander Hamilton and others, back, September 11, 1789. (Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives)

The President’s message did not list the credentials of the nominees nor did it include any comments from Washington regarding his choices; it simply listed the names.

It was then up to the Senate to debate each candidate’s ability and determine whether or not the nominee would receive the Senate’s consent.

This first nomination included Alexander Hamilton to be Secretary of the Treasury. On the same day the Senate received the President’s nomination, it unanimously consented to Hamilton’s nomination.

Hamilton, who had served with Washington in the Continental Army and in the Constitutional Convention, had also proven himself a brilliant administrator and thoughtful political theorist in his essays written for the Federalist Papers.

His term as the Secretary of the Treasury was a time of incredible productivity in which he created a national bank, founded the U.S. Mint, and established the Coast Guard.

Seventy-five years later, many of the same traditions remained regarding Presidential nominations. Like Washington’s message, President Abraham Lincoln’s nomination of Ulysses S. Grant was succinct.

In nominating Grant to the position of lieutenant general in the U.S. Army, Lincoln made a bold move. Only two men, George Washington and Winfield Scott, had held the rank of lieutenant general before Grant, and Scott’s was a brevet (honorary) appointment. Lincoln’s nomination made Grant the highest-ranking officer in the most important American conflict since the Revolution.

President Abraham Lincoln's nomination of Ulysses S. Grant to be Lieutenant General of the Army, February 29, 1864. (National Archives Identifier 306310)

President Abraham Lincoln’s nomination of Ulysses S. Grant to be Lieutenant General of the Army, February 29, 1864. (National Archives Identifier 306310)

 

The letterhead indicates that the nomination was sent from the “Executive Mansion.” Until President Theodore Roosevelt formalized the name “White House” in 1901, the White House was referred to as either the President’s House or Executive Mansion.

Another curiosity with regard to this particular nomination: the President wrote the note on lined paper that looks to be pulled out of a student’s notebook. Lined paper was first used in the United States around the mid-1800s, and it became incredibly popular—even for a formal nomination.

Unlike Washington’s nomination, which was written by his secretary and simply signed by Washington, Lincoln’s nomination of Grant is entirely in his own handwriting.

President Ronald Reagan's Nomination of Sandra Day O'Connor to be Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, August 19, 1981. (National Archives Identifier 595429)

President Ronald Reagan’s Nomination of Sandra Day O’Connor to be Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, August 19, 1981. (National Archives Identifier 595429)

President Ronald Reagan’s nomination of Sandra Day O’Connor to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court followed the familiar patterns of a Presidential nomination.

The cursive heading was meant to give the letter a sense of formality and personalization at a time when the message could have easily been all typed.

The Senate met O’Connor’s nomination with unanimous approval, but that did not mean she was without critics. Some senators believed that she lacked experience and constitutional knowledge, while others saw her as a weak supporter of feminist issues.

Her appointment was, in fact, the result of a campaign promise Reagan made in 1980 to nominate the first woman to the Supreme Court.

During O’Connor’s 24 years on the Supreme Court, she was joined by one other female Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg (after O’Connor’s retirement, two more women were appointed to the Supreme Court—Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan).

While the format of nominations has changed slightly over the years, Presidential nominations to any position, be it to the cabinet, the military, or the Supreme Court, have more or less remained the same: in a message to the Senate, the President allows his nominee’s name to speak for itself.

The Center for Legislative Archives is marking the 225th anniversary of the First Congress by sharing documents on Tumblr and Twitter; use #Congress225 to see all the postings.


Shorter Skirts and Shoulder Pads: How World War II Changed Women’s Fashion

Today’s post comes from Marisa Hawley, intern in the National Archives Strategy and Communications office.

As part of the “six weeks of style” celebration to recognize the Foundation for the National Archives’ partnership with DC Fashion Week, we are showcasing fashion-related records from our holdings. This week’s fashion theme is Women and the War: 1940s Fashion.

Women's Work Safety Fashion Bulletin, October 1942. (National Archives at Atlanta)

Women’s Work Safety Fashion Bulletin, October 1942. (National Archives at Atlanta)

During World War II, the United States experienced a drastic—albeit temporary— transformation in gender roles. Nearly one in every three American men left home to serve in the military between 1941 and 1945, so women increasingly began to take up civilian jobs to carry on the work of their male counterparts.

These women not only continued to manage the households, but they also worked in factories, laboratories, power plants, government organizations, and military auxiliaries. The war completely changed the responsibility of women in the workforce during these years—and subsequently transformed how they dressed.

The general style adopted by women in the 1940s greatly resembled U.S. military uniforms. The cut and color of clothes worn on the home front often mirrored what was worn by soldiers fighting in the European and Pacific theaters. Blouses and jackets became increasingly militarized and masculine with shoulder pads, and hats were also styled similarly to the U.S. Army berets.

Fun fact: the company that produced this advertisement,Higgins Industries, is most famous for its production of the Higgins boat, an amphibious landing craft that was used extensively in the D-Day invasion of Normandy.

Because women were now taking on more labor-intensive tasks like driving trucks, flying military aircraft, and working in shipyards, safety and practicality took precedence over glamour and femininity. The popularization of “Rosie the Riveter” meant that slacks and headscarves were considered stylish.

Rosie the Riveter Poster, War Production Board 1942-43. (National Archives identifier 535413)

Rosie the Riveter Poster, War Production Board 1942-43. (National Archives identifier 535413)

Working women traded in their high-heeled shoes and silk pants for khaki jackets and blue jeans. They also began wearing wraparound dresses with fewer adornments and pinned their hair back to avoid getting it caught in the machinery.

Pragmatism aside, women’s clothing also needed to adapt to the rationing of certain materials for military purposes. Wool and silk were in high demand for uniforms and parachutes; most civilians wore clothes made from rayon or viscose instead.

To conserve fabric, dressmakers and manufacturers began designing shorter skirts and slimmer silhouettes. Nylon was only available for civilian use in restricted quantities, so stockings soon disappeared and women went barelegged.

By the end of the war, over 6 million American women had joined the workforce, and nearly one out of every four married women worked outside the home. Although many were ultimately replaced by men once they returned from war, it is remarkable what women accomplished on a national scale in just four short years.

These women demonstrated patriotism, skill, and determination, making an undeniable impact on the workplace—and the fashion world.

Office Memo to TVA Employees regarding Uniforms For Women Public Safety Service Officers, April 17, 1943. (National Archives at Atlanta)

Office Memo to TVA Employees regarding Uniforms For Women Public Safety Service Officers, April 17, 1943. (National Archives at Atlanta)

Office Memo to TVA Employees regarding Uniforms For Women Public Safety Service Officers, April 17, 1943. (National Archives at Atlanta)

Office Memo to TVA Employees regarding Uniforms For Women Public Safety Service Officers, April 17, 1943. (National Archives at Atlanta)

Examine more “signature styles” and history-making signatures in our current exhibition, “Making Their Mark: Stories Through Signatures,” in the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC.


Political Cartoonist Clifford Berryman: Fusing Fashion and Politics

Today’s post comes from Marisa Hawley, intern in the National Archives Strategy and Communications office.

As part of the “six weeks of style” celebration to recognize the Foundation for the National Archives’ partnership with DC Fashion Week, we are showcasing fashion-related records from our holdings. This week’s fashion theme is Roaring 20s: Fur, Feathers, and Flappers.

To say that Clifford K. Berryman was an accomplished 20th-century political cartoonist would be somewhat of an understatement. Known as one of DC’s renowned graphic political commentators, he was once told by President Harry Truman, “You are a Washington Institution comparable to the Monument.”

Clifford K. Berryman, undated. (U.S. Senate Collection, Center for Legislative Archives, National Archives)

Clifford K. Berryman, undated. (U.S. Senate Collection, Center for Legislative Archives, National Archives)

In honor of the upcoming DC Fashion Week, we take a closer look at three of Berryman’s cartoons from the U.S. Senate Collection that used fads and fashion of the time to make creative political statements.

Berryman first moved to Washington, DC, at the age of 17 to work at the U.S. Patent Office, using his self-taught talents to draw patent illustrations.

In 1891, he left the Patent Office to become a cartoonist’s understudy for the Washington Post, and within five years, he rose to the top as chief cartoonist. He held this position until 1907, when he became the front-page cartoonist for the Washington Evening Star, where he drew political cartoons until he died in 1949 at the age of 80.

Berryman produced more than 15,000 cartoons throughout his lifetime. For nearly half a century, he chronicled every Presidential administration from Grover Cleveland to Harry Truman, satirizing both Republicans and Democrats alike. Because he never used outlandish caricatures to depict political figures, he earned respect for staying true to the portrayal of his subjects. In 1944 he won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning, and his collection is featured here at the National Archives in a special online exhibit.

His cartoons, however, were not strictly limited to politics. They covered other topics such as Presidential and congressional elections, both World Wars, DC weather—and, of course, fashion.

Political cartoons are ultimately a commentary on current events, personalities, and societal norms. By referencing various fashion trends at the time, Berryman made his drawings more relatable to the reader.

For example, in his 1909 cartoon about a bill introduced in the Illinois Legislature limiting women’s hats to eighteen inches in diameter, Berryman satirizes the ridiculous nature of women’s headwear during the Edwardian era.

News Note, 04/24/1909. (National Archives Identifier 6010794)

News Note, 04/24/1909. (National Archives Identifier 6010794)

 

In others, he drew attention to political trends using references to 1920s fashion. In this cartoon, he dresses recurring cartoon character Miss Democracy, the personified voice of the American people, in classic flapper’s garb to reflect the shifting national mood of the time. 

Democracy At It’s Best, 11/08/1922. (National Archives Identifier: 6011767)

Democracy At It’s Best, 11/08/1922. (National Archives Identifier: 6011767)

 

Similarly, Berryman addressed the topic of the Federal Income Tax, ratified in 1913, by comparing the prospect of tax return cuts to the popular haircut that characterized women’s fashion in the 1920s—the latest women’s fashion was short hair, called a “bob.” Cartoonist Clifford Berryman’s familiar caricature, Mr. John Q. Public, looks at a fashion poster and comments: “Now if Uncle Sam would just bob the income tax return, Oh, Boy!”

Untitled, 07/02/1925 (National Archives Identifier 6011891)

Untitled, 07/02/1925 (National Archives Identifier 6011891)

 

Who knew that fashion could be so political?

Examine more “signature styles” and history-making signatures in our current exhibition, “Making Their Mark: Stories Through Signatures,” in the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC.


Setting the Records Straight

Records and Seals Act, as introduced in the Senate on August 31, 1789. It was signed into law on September 15, 1789. (Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives)

Records and Seals Act, as introduced in the Senate on August 31, 1789. It was signed into law on September 15, 1789. (Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives)

Today’s post comes from Dan Ruprecht, intern in the Center for Legislative Archives at the National Archives in Washington, DC. 

From its earliest days, the Federal Government has been concerned with preserving its records.

During its very first session, the First Congress under the new Constitution in 1789 passed the Records and Seals Act, setting the expectation that government records were to be preserved for future generations.

The Records and Seals Act holds a special place in the heart of the National Archives and Records Administration.

During the formative years of the Republic, the act established the importance of recordkeeping and provided that copies of government records would be made available to the public via newspapers.

With the act’s passage, the Founding Fathers attempted to archive the nation’s documents and set a precedent to record, preserve, and report national history—a reflection of their belief that the American public ought to be a well-informed citizenry. Many of the nation’s founders shared the belief that it was imperative for the people of the young nation to be educated and informed in order for the government to properly function.

The act changed the name of the Department of Foreign Affairs to the Department of State to reflect several new domestic responsibilities. The newly established Secretary of State, aside from duties as a foreign affairs adviser, would also be the nation’s record keeper.

The State Department would oversee the safekeeping of the new government’s records and send copies of legislative records to state governments. It also provided that every new law, order, resolution, and vote would be printed in at least three public newspapers in the United States.

Unfortunately, things didn’t quite work out as the founders would have hoped.

It turned out that recordkeeping was a more monumental task than Congress could have imagined. No government-wide security existed to ensure that the records were preserved properly.

Attic of the House wing of the U.S. Capitol where the papers of the first 23 Congresses were stored, May 13, 1937. (Records of the National Archives, National Archives)

Attic of the House wing of the U.S. Capitol where the papers of the first 23 Congresses were stored, May 13, 1937. (Records of the National Archives, National Archives)

 

Documents were stored wherever space was found. This meant some records were stored in basements, attics, or garages, some hidden away in file cabinets, and some simply lost or stolen. Fires and insects also threatened to destroy or damage the documents.

When a fire in the Commerce Department destroyed the census records of 1890, the editor of the American Historical Review, Professor J. Franklin Jameson of Brown University, called on Congress to create a Hall of Records.

First page of the National Archives Act, June 19, 1934 (National Archives Identifier 299840)

First page of the National Archives Act, June 19, 1934. (National Archives Identifier 299840)

Jameson’s appeal was echoed by many others, and in 1934, with the intent of the Records Act of 1789 in mind, Congress established the National Archives.

The First Congress set the expectation that the nation’s records were to be preserved and protected, and their content disseminated to the American public. Since its establishment, the National Archives has been committed to performing those important duties.

That means using state-of-the-art document preservation and restoration techniques, as well as a commitment to making the records available to the public in person and online.

The work today is a far cry from what the founders could have imagined—for instance, maintaining the Constitution’s sophisticated argon-filled aluminum and titanium climate-controlled encasement, or the National Archives’ growing online presence.

These efforts are proof that the National Archives still lives with the spirit of the Records and Seals Act passed 225 years ago.

Because government documents were stored in such poor conditions many records, such as these Veterans Administration records, had to be fumigated in a vacuum chamber by National Archives workers, 6/12/1936. (National Archives Identifier 7822037)

Because government documents were stored in such poor conditions, many records, such as these Veterans Administration records, had to be fumigated in a vacuum chamber by National Archives workers, 6/12/1936. (National Archives Identifier 7822037)

 

The Center for Legislative Archives is marking the 225th anniversary of the First Congress by sharing documents on Tumblr and Twitter; use #Congress225 to see all the postings.