TLS to Dr. Janet Travell - 1963
Typed Letter Signed to JFK’s physician, Dr. Janet Travell, received in the White House on the fateful day of November 22, 1963.
On November 20, 1963, Rose Kennedy wrote to her son Jack's personal physician at the White House, Dr. Janet Travell, in an effort to help a friend find a good heart doctor. She knew Dr. Travell well—she had been caring for Jack Kennedy's war-related back problems since he was a U.S. Senator. Indeed, it was Janet Travell who recommended that Kennedy use a rocking chair to help alleviate his lower back pain by keeping the muscles in motion, contracting and relaxing. As a result it inspired a revival of the old-fashioned rocking chair in homes across America, and what would become a lasting symbol of John Kennedy and his presidency.
The letter reads:
November 20, 1963
Dear Dr. Travell,
A very dear friend of mine in New York is having a little heart trouble and would like to get hold of a good doctor there. I would appreciate it very much if you would recommend someone.
As she came from France and has been in this country only a few years, she thought I would be more acquainted with the medical profession than she, so she asked me to recommend someone.
Thank you very much, dear Dr. Travell, for this information.
Mrs. Joseph P. Kennedy
Dr. Janet Travell
The White House
Washington, D. C.
The rubber stamp in the upper right corner of this letter indicates the day it was received in the White House Mail Room—November 22, 1963—the very day her son President John F. Kennedy was killed by an assassin in Dallas, Texas. This is believed to be one of the last letters to emerge from the Kennedy Compound in Hyannis Port in 1963 using social stationery with a white border. Following that fateful day in November, Rose Kennedy and her clan would write the painful thank you letters to friends and family with traditional black-bordered mourning stationery.
As it happens, aside from being JFK's personal physician—the first female in history to hold that position to a serving U.S. president—Janet Travell is famous in her own right as a leading pioneer in the diagnosis and treatment of myofascial pain syndrome secondary to trigger points. Ask any physical therapist or massage practitioner today; chances are they're quite familiar with her work.
The letter is in excellent condition, with minor edge wear on the left and a slight paper clip impression on the top.
ROSE FITZGERALD KENNEDY (1890-1995). Wife of Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy and mother of President John F. Kennedy.
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