While most remember Jacqueline (Bouvier) Kennedy Onassis as the former First Lady of the United States, many may be unaware of her Connecticut connections both before and during her prominent role in American history.
Upon departing Holton Arms School in Washington, D.C., Jackie Kennedy attended Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, Connecticut from age 15 in 1944 to age 17 in 1947. Jackie was often found around Farmington and the school grounds with her beloved horse “Danseuse”, and was regarded by faculty as a “fine horsewoman”. Additional proclaimed talents included writing, which may explain Jackie’s time served as a member of the school newspaper, Salmagundy. Upon graduating from Miss Porter’s, Jackie continued studies at Vassar College in New York, and later at George Washington University.
Later in life, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy christened the USS Lafayette on May 8, 1962 at the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics in Groton. Her fashions were aptly described by then governor Ella Grasso, as a “pale chartreuse, fitted reefer with a matching rolled wide-brimmed Breton hat”, with a proposed “white sheath with small black dots” underneath. According to the publication Connecticut Coast, Mrs. Kennedy wore a “chartreuse Oleg Cassini coat and matching Breton hat”.
It was discovered that the celebratory champagne was home grown rather than French, due to Electric Boat’s preference to use a “home-grown grape” for christenings. Even the First Lady’s scheduled arrival on May 8th caused a week delay in Groton’s annual spring cleanup campaign. The occasion of christening in the “Submarine Capital of the World” was apparently historic and dramatic for many reasons, and solidified Jacqueline (Bouvier) Kennedy Onassis as a perhaps lesser known fixture in Connecticut history.
A selection of unpublished photographs, which include Jackie on horseback, with her student body and posing with a friend while a student at Miss Porter’s School, are located at the Waterman Research Center at the Connecticut Historical Society. A record for this collection can be found on our public collections database, eMuseum.
Sierra Dixon is a Research & Collections Associate at the Connecticut Historical Society