If there was a role model for American women in the 1960s, it was first lady Jacqueline Kennedy — even if she didn't welcome the label.
The engaged couple in 1953, vacationing in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts.Flickr/Ur Cameras
Candid photograph by Toni Frissell, September 1957.Flickr/trialsanderrors
The dress that Jacqueline wore when she married John F. Kennedy on September 12, 1953 is cited as one of the best-remembered bridal gowns of all time. Wikimedia Commons
The power couple that would dominate the news throughout the early 1960s.STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images
Jacqueline Kennedy is greeted by the crowd in 1961 during her visit in Paris.AFP/Getty Images
The first lady leaves the Quai d'Orsay in Paris, 1961.AFP/Getty Images
Holding her son, John Jr., who was born on November 25, 1960. On his third birthday, he would be attending his father's funeral. AFP/Getty Images
Jacqueline Kennedy arriving in Palm Beach in 1961.Flickr/floridamemory
A tender moment with John Jr. in the White House nursery.Wikimedia Commons
Arriving in Venezuela in December 1961.Wikimedia Commons
The first lady accepting a corsage from a child at the arrival ceremony at Maiquetia Airport, Caracas, Venezuela.Wikimedia Commons
John F. Kennedy, Vice President Lyndon Johnson, and the first lady watch the 1961 launch of the first American in space, Alan Shepard.Flickr/Ur Cameras
French Culture Minister Andre Malraux and his wife Madeleine, talk to Jacqueline Kennedy on May 12, 1962 at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. STAFF/AFP/Getty Images
Together with her husband and children, August 4, 1962.Wikimedia Commons
Jacqueline Kennedy during a 1962 trip to India.Wikimedia Commons
Jacqueline Kennedy, daughter Caroline, and a classmate during the first lady's visit to the White House School on May 24, 1963.Flickr/thesmuggler- Night of the Swallow
Jacqueline Kennedy is toasted by Prince Norodom Sihanouk and his wife at the royal palace in Cambodia, 1967.Photo by Larry Burrows via Flickr/manhhai
Jacqueline Kennedy with John A. Volpe, Governor of Massachusetts.Flickr/beebe_library
With Soviet Premier Nikita Krushchev. Flickr/Kristine
The Kennedys arrive at Love Field in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963, the day of JFK's assassination.Wikimedia Commons
At the funeral of John F. Kennedy on November 25, 1963 in Washington, D.C.STAFF/AFP/Getty Images
Boating in Central Park, New York, on September 16, 1964.STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images
Posing with John Jr. in her New York flat in September of 1964.AFP/Getty Images
Jacqueline Kennedy with Ronald and Nancy Reagan at a 1985 fundraiser for the Kennedy Presidential Library.Wikimedia Commons
Jacqueline Kennedy during a 1990 ceremony in memory of her first husband.STAFF/AFP/Getty Images
Jacqueline Kennedy was an undeniable role model to women in the 1960s. She was not an heiress, as some believe, nor was she a stranger to hard work. She was a style icon to be sure – but what women of the era related most to was the strength she showed in the wake of the assassination of her husband, President John F. Kennedy. The whole country needed reassuring and looked to her for it.
“They had seized upon the widow’s demeanor of emotional control at the funeral to transform her from a symbol of helplessness and vulnerability to a symbol of resolute strength,” wrote Vanity Fair.
By the time her husband died, Kennedy was already no stranger to tragedy: She'd lost two children in infancy prior to the devastation of having her husband die in her arms.
In the throes of PTSD following the shooting, Kennedy focused on creating the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. Her grieving was quiet; Kennedy did not speak of the incident after 1964, when she recorded a candid oral history of the events, which was released in 2011, 17 years after her death.
Today, Jacqueline Kennedy remains a largely enigmatic figure in the American canon, no matter how many books or motion pictures are made about her. These photos will take you back to some of her less troubled times, her family, and the people she surrounded herself with as an ambassador of goodwill for the United States.
For more on Jacqueline Kennedy, read her most memorable quotes.