Alumni Remember JFK Through Lecture, Tour of Newseum

On Nov. 9, alumni attended a GW Culture Buffs event at The Newseum (above) to learn about the JFK assassination. Photo credit: Maria Bryk/Newseum.
On Nov. 9, alumni attended a GW Culture Buffs event at The Newseum (above) to learn about the JFK assassination. Photo credit: Maria Bryk/Newseum.

As we mark the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination, we’re featuring an article from Karen Norris, GSEHD BA ’72, who attended “GW Culture Buffs at The Newseum” earlier this month.  The event centered around The Newseum’s  “Assassination of JFK and Kennedy Family History” exhibit. Read on to hear what Norris learned at this dynamic event:

On Nov. 9, the GW Alumni Association (GWAA) Culture Buffs participated in a luncheon and lecture at Clyde’s in Washington, DC’s Penn Quarter neighborhood, followed by a tour of the 50th Anniversary exhibit about President John F. Kennedy at the Newseum.

GW history professor Edward D. Berkowitz spoke to a capacity crowd, providing insight into the public and private lives of JFK, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, the family and key players in his administration.

“The event has been fabulous,” shared Jacqueline Byrd, CCAS AA ’83, BS ’84. “Dr. Berkowitz was an informed and timely historian for the Kennedy era.”

The Lecture
When other GW professors attend a Culture Buffs event to hear professor Berkowitz speak, you know it will be a memorable lecture before the first spoken word.

“I taught history from 1960 to 2000, more than 40 years,” said professor Charles Herber, now retired. “I was looking forward to this event.”

Professor Berkowitz addressed attendees in conversational style rather than as a formal lecture, pausing for questions and responding with anecdotal stories and recollections.

Karen Norris, GSEHD BA '72
Karen Norris, GSEHD BA ’72

“So much of [JFK’s] image as a healthy, vigorous family man was false, yet he endures in our memory, more popular now then when he was in office,” Berkowitz said.

As Berkowitz proceeded to separate the man from the myth, he also provided tips for alumni about the Newseum exhibit.

The Exhibit
The Kennedy’s were among the first who used the medium of television as well as the services of a commissioned photographer, Jacques Lowe, to engage the American public.

Lowe took more than 40,000 pictures chronicling the presidency and Kennedy family life, according to Berkowitz.

The collection was stored in vaults in the World Trade Center for safekeeping. After the attack of Sept. 11, all the photos were destroyed.

Lowe’s estate, however, included saved copies of his favorites and some photographic plates. These rare treasures were used to create the 50th anniversary exhibition at the Newseum that includes two presentations, Creating Camelot and Three Shots Were Fired, together with a documentary film, A Thousand Days.

–Karen Norris, GSEHD BA ’72

Culture Buffs is a popular program sponsored by GW’s Office of Alumni Relations. Events include museums, historical estates, theatres and much more. Participants experience exclusive tours and lectures from knowledgeable GW faculty and expert alumni. Activities always include lively discussion and networking with fellow alumni.  For more information, visit:

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