Haunting Photos Of The Kennedy Assassination And Autopsy That Capture The Full Scope Of The Tragedy

Published November 7, 2021
Updated November 22, 2021

These rarely-seen pictures of President John F. Kennedy's assassination, autopsy, and funeral reveal the full story of the shooting that shook the nation in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963.

Images of John F. Kennedy’s assassination hold a permanent place in the American consciousness. Jackie Kennedy’s pink dress. The doomed convertible. The jubilant crowds. It was the moment, in Dallas, Texas on Nov. 22, 1963, when American history changed forever.

That day of the Kennedy assassination started out full of promise. Kennedy, with his eye on reelection, was all smiles. Even the morning rain had cleared. That allowed the president, his wife, the governor of Texas, and his wife, to take the plastic bubble top off their car.

They drove together through downtown Dallas, beaming and waving at the crowd. But as the car crossed Dealey Plaza, shots suddenly rang out.

Time seemed to stop. The president slumped forward, and the nation would never be the same. From that fateful moment to the autopsy and funeral that followed, see some of the most powerful JFK assassination pictures below, then go deeper inside the story of that tragic day.

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Haunting Photos Of The Kennedy Assassination And Autopsy That Capture The Full Scope Of The Tragedy
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The Story Behind John F. Kennedy's Assassination, Autopsy, And Funeral

Photos of John F. Kennedy's assassination seem to slow down time. They separate out each moment and allow them all to linger in the mind. But in reality, the assassination itself unfolded in a matter of mere seconds.

On Nov. 22, 1963, John F. Kennedy's open-top limousine turned onto Dealey Plaza around 12:30 pm. As it passed beneath the Texas School Book Depository, two shots hit the president.

The president was then raced to Parkland Memorial Hospital — but doctors were unable to save his life. From there, images of John F. Kennedy's assassination take on a new kind of haunting character.

Once John F. Kennedy's body was taken to Love Field and placed on Air Force One, his vice president Lyndon B. Johnson took the oath of office. In one of the most indelible JFK assassination photos, Jackie Kennedy stands frozen at Johnson's side while he was sworn in. She had refused to leave Dallas without JFK's body.

Meanwhile, the news had spread across the country. Americans gathered around radios and TV sets. They sobbed on the streets and stared at newspaper headlines. But the saga was far from over.

Jfk Assassination Photos

Public DomainA photo taken by Mary Ann Moorman one-sixth of a second after John F. Kennedy was fatally shot.

In the days that followed, JFK's body was carefully examined by doctors — and JFK autopsy photos capture this horrific moment in time.

The official John F. Kennedy autopsy showed that the president had been shot twice, once in the head and once in the back. In these photos, JFK's body is just a mere shell of the young, charismatic president that had captivated the nation.

Following JFK's autopsy, the president was finally laid to rest. On the day of his funeral, John F. Kennedy's body was moved from the White House to the Capitol.

Poignantly, his young son John saluted his father's casket as it passed.

Why Photos Of The Kennedy Assassination Remain So Powerful To This Day

In the immediate aftermath of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, countless writers spilled untold amounts of ink in an effort to grapple with a tragedy that had rattled the United States of America to its core.

Many of these writers delivered sweeping statements on the historic weight of this catastrophe or relayed the thoughts and words of the insiders sitting in America's highest corridors of power.

And yet, of everything written in the aftermath of the assassination of JFK, the piece that remains the most well-remembered today is the one that set its sights seemingly much lower — but, in truth, much higher.

Rather than wax tragic about the state of the nation or interview those closest to the president, legendary New York journalist Jimmy Breslin instead spoke with Clifton Pollard, the man tasked with digging Kennedy's grave, and delivered an affecting account of a lowly laborer who'd suddenly found himself in the middle of a historic moment.

In focusing on such an ostensibly unremarkable corner of such an immense episode in American history, Breslin both found an unexpected angle that no other writer was taking and provided the average reader with an emotional entry point into an event that was simply too upsetting to confront head on.

So memorable and moving was Breslin's approach that not only does his piece live on more than a half-century later, but it's also inspired what's since been called "the gravedigger school of news writing."

Proponents of this approach are always on the lookout for their "gravedigger," the unassuming corner of a story that proves all the more weighty because of just how peripheral it may seem at first.

And as for the Kennedy assassination itself, Breslin certainly didn't find that episode's only "gravedigger." On the contrary, the assassination — from the hours before the shooting to the arrest and murder of the suspect to the president's funeral — is filled with little moments, people, places, and things that illustrate the event's gravitas in ways that a straightforward document of the actual shooting itself (such as, say, the Zapruder film) just can't.

The seldom-seen Kennedy assassination photos above — including tragic scenes of JFK's body, JFK's autopsy, and more — are certainly proof of that.


After seeing these photos of the JFK assassination and autopsy, learn a little about what's inside the secret Kennedy assassination files released by the U.S. government. Then, have a look at some of the most incredible John F. Kennedy photos ever taken.

John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society of history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.