This week marked the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s
election as the nation’s 35th president.
At 43 years old, Kennedy became the youngest man to be elected to the office, and the nation’s first and only Catholic president, after he narrowly bested Richard Nixon. His margin of victory, one-tenth of one percentage point, marked the closest popular vote of the 20th century.
In honor of the historic election, LIFE.com sent its director of photography Simon
Barnett to the digital archives in search of unpublished images from the 1960 campaign trail.
“I looked at every photograph taken by LIFE photographers in the year prior to the Kennedy election,” Barnett said by phone from New York. “And what I found really exceeded our expectations.”
Barnett, who is also the former director of photography for Newsweek, called the 33 images LIFE chose to publish “hidden gems,” but had no real answer for why they had never been seen before.
“I can tell you from experience that a lot of amazing photographs are never published for a variety of mundane reasons,” Barnett said.
You can see LIFE’s entire JFK collection here.
Travis Daub and Vanessa Dennis contributed to this blog.