September 6, 1888: Early History

Joseph Patrick Kennedy is born in Boston to former stevedore, saloon owner, and local politician Patrick Joseph Kennedy and his wife Mary Augusta Hickey, daughter of an affluent family from suburban Brockton, Massachusetts.

July 22, 1890

Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald is born in Boston to local politician John F. Fitzgerald and Mary Josephine Hannon.


P. J. Kennedy helps to organize the Columbia Trust Company, Boston's only Irish-owned bank.


Joe Kennedy graduates from Boston Latin School and enters Harvard College as a member of the class of 1912.

June 1910

Rose Fitzgerald graduates from Manhattanville Sacred Heart School in New York.

July 1912

Joe begins his banking career as a clerk for Columbia Trust Company; two years later he will organize resistance to a takeover bid, and become president of the bank at age 25.

Joe and Rose Kennedy
Library of Congress

Joe and Rose Kennedy
October 7, 1914: The Kennedy Family Begins

Joe Kennedy marries Rose Fitzgerald. They settle in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Nine months later they start their family when Joseph Patrick Kennedy Jr. is born on July 25, 1915. He will be known as Joe Jr.

May 29, 1917

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, known as Jack, is born.

October 1917

Joe Sr. opposes World War I. He becomes assistant general manager of Bethlehem Shipbuilding's Fore River Plant in Quincy, Massachusetts, and is able to avoid active military service.

September 13, 1918

Daughter Rosemary Kennedy is born. Within her first year, it is apparent that she has serious learning disabilities.

June 1919: Coming Into Money

Joe Sr. joins the Hayden, Stone and Co. brokerage firm in the heyday of the unregulated stock market. He will open his own stock trading business four years later.

February 1920

Kathleen Kennedy, known as Kick, is born. Jack, not yet three years old, nearly dies of scarlet fever.

July 10, 1921

Joe and Rose Kennedy's third daughter, Eunice Kennedy, is born.

May 6, 1924

A fourth daughter, Patricia Kennedy, is born.

November 20, 1925

A third son, Robert Kennedy, is born.

February 1926

Joe Sr. enters the movie business as a producer.

September 1927

The Kennedy family moves to Riverdale, New York. They will continue to live in the New York area, summering at Hyannis Port on Cape Cod, Massachusetts and maintaining a residence in Palm Beach, Florida.

February 20, 1928

Joe and Rose's fifth and youngest daughter, Jean Ann Kennedy, is born.

October 29, 1929

The New York stock market crashes. Anticipating problems, Joe Sr. has already liquidated his substantial long-term investments. Joe will later deny, then admit, that he continued to make money in the stock market by selling short while the market fell.

1932: The Family Enters Politics

Joe Sr. energetically backs Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s successful bid for the presidency.

February 22, 1932

Edward Moore Kennedy is born. He will be the last of Joe and Rose Kennedy’s nine children; oldest brother Joe is nearly seventeen years old.


Anticipating the repeal of Prohibition, Joe Sr. capitalizes on his relationship with President Roosevelt by securing lucrative liquor distribution licenses in Great Britain.

July 2, 1934

FDR appoints Joe Sr. chairman of the new Securities and Exchange Commission, charged with regulating the manipulation of stock prices that Kennedy had mastered decades earlier. “The appointment is appalling,” says one editor. “Kennedy is that worst of economic parasites, a Wall Street operator.” Yet after 14 months of service, even critics will concede that he has served well.

September 1934

After a year spent studying in London, Joe Jr. enrolls as a freshman at Harvard.

October 1935

Jack enrolls at Princeton, having withdrawn from the London School of Economics and Political Science with an attack of jaundice. He will leave after one semester due to ill health.


Joe Sr. joins Roosevelt's presidential re-election campaign. With help from New York Times journalist Arthur Krock, Kennedy publishes I'm for Roosevelt, a book that explains how Roosevelt helps capitalists.

September 1936

Jack enters Harvard College as a freshman.

April 1937

Joe Sr. is appointed head of the newly-established U.S. Maritime Commission. He publicizes his achievements successfully enough to be featured on the cover of Fortune magazine.

January 5, 1938

After intense lobbying, FDR nominates Joe Sr. ambassador to Great Britain. Two months later, Joe Sr. will arrive in London, followed soon after by Rose, Kick and the four youngest Kennedys.

June 1938

Joe Jr. graduates from Harvard College. Joe Sr.'s pique at not being offered an honorary degree from the university prevents him from attending his son's graduation.

October 19, 1938

Ambassador Kennedy argues for co-existence with dictatorships in a speech at the Trafalgar Day dinner of the Navy League.

March 13, 1939: World War II

The Kennedy family attends the coronation of Pope Pius XII. Jack travels through Germany, Poland and Russia on the eve of World War II, reporting to his father on the imminence of war.

August 23, 1939

Germany and the Soviet Union sign a ten-year non-aggression pact.

June 1940

Jack graduates from Harvard College. With Arthur Krock, he reworks his senior thesis, "Appeasement at Munich," into a book published as Why England Slept. It receives positive reviews and becomes a bestseller.

June 14, 1940

Paris falls to the German army.

September 7, 1940

Germany begins the Blitz: nightly bombings on the city of London.

October 1940

Joe Sr. returns to the United States, asking to be relieved of his ambassadorial post.

November 5, 1940

Rossevelt is elected to a third term.

November 8, 1940

In an interview with The Boston Globe, Joe Sr. reiterates his views on staying out of the war for an American audience.

December 12, 1940

Joe Sr. officially resigns as ambassador to England.

JFK and Joseph Kennedy Jr.
John F. Kennedy Library

JFK and Joe Jr.

Joe Jr. and Jack both enlist in the Navy. Joe Jr. is sent to flight school; Jack is commissioned as an ensign, joining the Office of Naval Intelligence.

Kathleen joins the Washington Times-Herald.

Without consulting Rose, Joe Sr. arranges for Rosemary to have a frontal lobotomy. The operation leaves their daughter in worse condition, and she will be institutionalized for the rest of her life.

Jack begins an affair with Inga Arvad, a married Dane falsely suspected of being a Nazi spy. The FBI monitors the relationship.

January 1942

Jack is transferred from Naval Intelligence to the Navy shipyard at Charleston, South Carolina. Within the year he graduates from Officer Training at Northwestern University and Torpedo Boat School as a PT boat skipper.

May 6, 1942

Joe Jr. receives his naval wings -- with his father in attendance.

Kathleen Kennedy

Kathleen Kennedy
June 1943

Kathleen begins working for the Red Cross.

August 2, 1943

A Japanese destroyer rams PT 109 off the Solomon Islands; skipper Jack Kennedy loses two men immediately. Despite being stranded in the middle of the Pacific, he manages to save the rest of his crew. His valor will earn him Navy and Marine Corps medals.

October 5, 1943

Just shy of his eighteenth birthday, Robert Kennedy enlists in the Naval Reserve.

May 6, 1944

Kathleen marries a British lord, William Cavendish.

Joseph Kennedy Jr

Joseph Kennedy Jr
August 12, 1944: Tragedy Strikes

Joe Jr. dies on a secret mission flying over the English Channel. The Naval Cross will be awarded posthumously. Joe Sr. begins to transfer his political ambitions to his second son.

September 9, 1944

William Cavendish is killed in battle against the Germans. Kathleen Kennedy is widowed after only four months of marriage.

November 1944

Robert Kennedy enrolls in Harvard College.

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