Above: Page from the diary of John F. Kennedy family nanny, Maud Shaw. Diary offered by RR Auction.
A nanny in Camelot
When John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline brought their young family to the White House – and into the world spotlight – they brought with them an already trusted extended member of the family: Their nanny, Maud Shaw.
With a resume that featured nanny positions in England, Iran, and Egypt, Shaw was hired by the Kennedys in 1957 to care for the newborn Caroline while JFK was still a senator. Shaw remained in the Kennedys’ employ for more than seven years and became one of the most trusted, and evidently adored, adult influences on the closely protected Kennedy children. Held in such high regard by the Kennedys, Shaw was given her own private quarters in the White House, where she could be reached at a moment’s notice.
Shaw would not only witness the daily growth and child-rearing milestones of the First Children, but she would, ultimately, have the incredibly heart-wrenching onus of telling them the fate which befell their father.
In 22 handwritten pages, the personal diary of Maud Shaw offers an intimate glimpse into daily life in the nursery of Camelot. It details the development of Caroline and John “John-John” Kennedy as infants and toddlers between the years 1957 and 1962. It covers the emergence of teeth, first steps, first words, illnesses, and a detailed record of their nutritional intake.
Regarding Caroline, she notes in July-August 1959, “Says Da-Da, laughs very loudly, play pat-a-cake.” Most notably, under the first entry for John, “born 25th November 1960,” Shaw notes that he was two weeks premature, adding: “Weight 6 lbs. 3 ozs, slow gaining weight, put on full strength Simalax a Beef, 3 times daily at 4 weeks, I look on John, 28th Feb. 1961.” In March 1962, she notes that John is “repeating words after me—very well.”
Accompanying the diary are four ALSs addressed to Shaw by a young Caroline, circa 1965-1967, two of which are postcards, illustrating the warm relationship Shaw shared with the Kennedy children in the years immediately following their untimely departure from the White House. Written in the sweet tone of a young girl to her clearly beloved nanny.
This artifact is a one-of-a-kind window into the private lives of the most fabled First Family in American history.
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