Handmade John F. Kennedy Albums

As a boy, Robert A. Cumins, now a prominent photojournalist, was fascinated with President John F. Kennedy’s administration. A local newspaperman who knew of Cumins’s interest in JFK passed along original wire photos—most complete with captions—transmitted to the paper during the days following the President’s assassination. Subsequently, the publisher provided Cumins with additional prints chronicling the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald, the early days of Lyndon Johnson’s administration, and the political careers of Robert and Ted Kennedy. Cumins compiled these press photos in 12 hand-made albums, with his own handwritten notations, which appear in a portion of our October 19, 2010 Fine Photographs & Select Photobooks auction devoted to photojournalism.

Suite of 12 handmade albums with more than 340 wire photo images depicting the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, 1963-1964.

Today’s New York Observer details Cumins’s visit to Washington and meeting with Kennedy’s press secretary, Pierre Salinger, whom the 14-year-old interviewed for his school newspaper. He now reflects, “I thought if I can’t get to the president, I’ll get to the one guy who was closet to him in the journalistic world.” 

Daile Kaplan, Director of Photographs at Swann, describes the importance of the collection—and photojournalism as a whole, “These images become the center of personal and collective memory….This is how we take in history.”