President & Mrs. Ford

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This exhibit showcases more than 70 dolls and puppets from 30 countries given to Caroline Kennedy between 1961 and 1963. Foreign dignitaries and first ladies, including Italy's Prime Minister Amintore Fanfani, the Ivory Coast's President Felix Houphouet-Boigny, India’s Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Monaco's Princess Grace, and the wife of France's President Charles de Gaulle presented dolls as state gifts.

Born in 1957, Caroline Kennedy was a three-year-old when her father took the oath of office as President of the United States on January 20, 1961. (Her brother, John, was two months old at the time.) She attended kindergarten at the White House in classes organized by her mother, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy. Some of the most recognizable images of the Kennedy White House include photographs of the Kennedy children in the Oval Office and with their parents.

The centerpiece of the exhibit was the playhouse presented to Caroline Kennedy by Jacqueline de Gaulle, wife of French President Charles de Gaulle. The five-foot tall playhouse is white with red roof and shutters and has "Caroline" inscribed by the front door. Caroline Kennedy’s children also played in the playhouse when they were youngsters.

The collection also includes dolls and puppets from Uruguay, Guatemala, Colombia, Austria, Holland, Wales, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Poland, Germany, Japan, Thailand, Pakistan, Jordan, Korea, Canada, Greece, and Puerto Rico. A Kachina doll from the National Congress of American Indians that was presented to President Kennedy is also in the exhibit.

Funding provided by:
fnd logo Gerald R. Ford Library & Museum