Rosemary Kennedy

rosemary kennedy july 1940

She was a beautiful girl: some say the prettiest of the bunch.

Here’s what she looked like in the summer of 1940 when she came to our camp for three weeks and papa Joe Kennedy was off in England  as the Ambassador to the Court of St. James and mama Rose was dividing her time between their winter home in New York and their summer place on the Cape.

This was a scant 18 months before her lobotomy. It was a ‘groundbreaking’ procedure that we now know was badly botched. It broke her family’s hearts, ‘losing’ her this way. Her siblings certainly you can see that in everything you read .

Her second letter to my mom after having had to leave camp appears in the post under this one.  It was a different era and not a better one.  Today she’d be working at the Stop and Shop and going to dances with her pals on weekends.

7 thoughts on “Rosemary Kennedy

  1. Medical researchers still disagree over the initial assessment of Rosemary’s condition. Mental retardation or mental illness – the first referring to subaverage intellectual functioning presented at birth or during the period of development. Whereas a mental illness has nothing to do with intelligence and can occur at any age.

    R. Kessler author of Sins of the Father: J.P.Kennedy and the Dynasty He Founded, believes Rosemary’s problem was mental illness which made me think of his words:
    “..true she was slower than other children but as a teenager, she was able to write endearing letters,…”.

    Terry the letter shown below is amazing, an authenic example of one of her endearing letters. As I read it I actually cried at the line “I am sorry you all had to lose me. Its not my fault darlings.”

    No it wasn’t Rosemary.

  2. That is one of the nicest tributes I’ve read and a lovely reminder of the few days we spent at Fernwood with you all. Thanks Mugsy

  3. Rather if was mental illness or retardation before the lobotomy, I believe Rosemary did suffer. I believe Rosemary especially suffered after the lobotomy in Sept. 1941. She lost her independence, she was sent away to an institution far away from her family, and she was shunned by her family for three decades. I read Laurence Leamer’s book “Kennedy Women” and watched a History Channel special on the Kennedy’s, after Joe’s death in 1969 the family re-established their relationship with Rosemary. However, her name was not mentioned in any articles or books if she attended any of the weddings of the Kennedy children or grandchildren, funerals, and other public events. I saw the video of Rose’s funeral and Rosemary wasn’t there. I think the reason why she wasn’t in public because she probably had several health problems after the lobotomy. I read in Rose and Ted’s autobiographies, posts about Rosemary on the Special Olympics website, and newspaper articles through the news archives that the Kennedy family did see Rosemary in her later years.

    1. I am reading that book myself ! It’s long but it is so thorough eh? Rosemary was all bent over after the procedure yes. Have you seen photos of her later in life? I can dig up some for you if you like …

  4. There are a couple of photos of Rosemary in her later years in “Kennedy Women.” There is a couple more on google images. However, there are rumors on a couple websites (example – that no one in the family had anything to do with Rosemary after her lobotomy. If there is a family picture or two with Rosemary in it, it will dismiss these rumors.

  5. It is a cruel treatment whether it is for mental illness or otherwise. They don’t even do these treatments or did these treatments to mass murderers. So how do they justify doing it to children and adults who are not well, but killers get treated better?

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