25. Joseph Kennedy Sr. remains a controversial and enigmatic figure today
Joseph Kennedy, like all members of the extended family of which he was the patriarch, is a highly controversial and polarizing figure today. He is often condemned as a criminal, a womanizer, an irresponsible father who had his daughter lobotomized and then institutionalized, and many other things. Some are true, some are exaggerated, and some are the smears of those who simply hate the name Kennedy. A search for truth that penetrates the veil of hatred and the myths it created reveals a far more complex portrait of the man. He was certainly no saint, but neither was he Satan in Irish disguise.
His personal papers remain in the care of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, where few have had unfettered access to them (biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin is one) and where they are likely to remain for the foreseeable future. The American Library of Congress contains much of his correspondence from his various government posts, as does the FDR Presidential Library, the State Department Archives, and the National Archives. The true story of the man is available for those willing to dispel preconceived notions and myths. It is far more interesting than the idea of Kennedy simply having been the man known as Bootlegger Joe.
Where do we find this stuff? Here are our sources: