In a Time of Crisis: Doodles

By Caitlin O'Connell

With yesterday marking the start of a solemn reflection on the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis—the infamous 13 day standoff began on October 16—The Atlantic published one of JFK’s notes from the height of the crisis. This find is remarkable not only because it has survived all this time but also because it reveals a new side of Kennedy as President: he was a doodler.

From the National Archives, this unassuming sheet of yellow legal pad paper from October 25, 1962 is full of scribbles and possibly insight into Kennedy’s mindset at the height of the crisis. “Missiles” is written three times in succession on the top right corner of the note, and more darkly “Peral Harbor [sic]” is written in the bottom corner.

And Kennedy was not alone in his doodling; the Atlantic has a fascinating roundup of presidential doodles from Thomas Jefferson to George H. W. Bush. Makes one look at doodling in an entirely different light.

Photo credit: Public domain/Wikimedia Commons