The series of photos — taken on the morning of Dec. 25, 1962, at an acquaintance’s home in Palm Beach, Fla. — are highlighted in the collection released last week that includes other Kennedy items touching on holiday themes of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The photos depict the Kennedys enjoying Christmas morning together that year, including the president, first lady Jacqueline Kennedy, their children Caroline and John Jr., parents Joseph Kennedy, Sr. and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy and sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver.
Also seen are members the Radziwill family, including Jacqueline Kennedy’s sister Princess Lee Radziwill and her husband, Prince Stanislaus Radziwill of Poland.
The photos, librarians said in a blog post, show “the fun and chaos of a typical Christmas morning,” and note a strong element of poignancy, as it was the family’s last Christmas together before Kennedy was assassinated the following November.
In addition to the Christmas photos, the holiday-themed collection also includes an October 1961 letter written by Kennedy to then-eight-year-old Michelle Rochon, who’d written to express concern about the Soviet Union testing nuclear weapons in the Arctic and Santa Claus‘ safety.
“Please stop the Russians from bombing the North pole. Because they will kill Santa Claus,” the Marine City, Mich., third grader wrote.
Kennedy wrote back to reassure the frightened child.
“I share your concern about the atmospheric testing of the Soviet Union, not only for the North Pole but for the countries throughout the world; not only for Santa Claus but for people throughout the world,” he wrote. “You must not worry about Santa Claus. I talked with him yesterday and he is fine. He will be making his rounds again this Christmas.”