On December 3, 1960, the curtains rose on the first of 893 Broadway performances of Learner and Lowe’s hit musical Camelot. Three days later delighted pedestrians watched as Camelot’s most famous fan, President-Elect John F. Kennedy, was driven through the White House gates to see his soon-to-be home and office. Not only had the Camelot era begun, but thanks to the vision of the incoming first lady, Jacqueline Kennedy, the spotlight would soon illuminate the White House itself in a wholly new way. Recalling a disappointing childhood tour with no booklet to guide her and little history to impress her, she was determined to make her new home “the most perfect house in the United States.” Within a year, a committee was formed, a law passed, donations sought, and a nonprofit chartered, while a feature in Life magazine documented the birth of an “inalienable” museum-quality collection of historic furnishings that would belong to the nation—all at the behest of the new first lady. Although the Camelot era would be cut short after only 1,036 days, Mrs. Kennedy’s work has continued through the White House Historical Association, the nonprofit that she founded. On November 3, 2021, the Association will mark its sixtieth anniversary, which we celebrate with this sixtieth issue of White House History Quarterly. Featured articles include the founding of the Association, the first guidebook, the Association's major gifts to the White House collection, the early Association leadership, and an interview with Stewart McLaurin on how the Association adapted and survived during the global pandemic.
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