For Sale: Archive of 73 Mainly Unpublished, Speeches, Manuscripts and Items of John F. Kennedy's c.1945-63

LONDON, Nov. 7, 2017 /PRNewswire/ Peter Harrington, the U.K.'s largest rare book seller and one of the leading rare book sellers in the world, has an astonishing collection of 73 items, autograph and manuscript material of John F. Kennedy'sfor sale. Most of this material including reading copies and manuscript drafts has never before been published and some contain revisions and corrections by John F. Kennedy himself which show how he worked to improve the speeches he gave.

This fascinating collection was put together by David Powers who was Kennedy's intimate friend, advisor and personal "fixer" and was privy to everything JFK did. The collection spans Kennedy's political career up to the presidency, beginning with speeches from his first primary race in 1946 to the eve of his nomination as presidentin the summer of 1960.This encompasses three Congressional campaigns, two runs for the Senateand a bid for the vice presidency.

Together with related notes and other mementos kept by Powers, these speeches are among the largest cache of original JFK documents remaining in private hands. The collection was purchased in the 1990s from David Powers by the rare book dealer Maury A. Bromsen (19192005) who sold the archive to a private collector around 2003. Peter Harrington acquired it from the library of a private collector and is selling it as a single collection for 375,000 ($498,000).

John F. Kennedy remains one of the most charismatic and memorable world leaders of the last century whose tragic assassination only increased the world's interest in him. Peter Harrington is excited to be selling this collection, as it was built by Kennedy's closest advisor and posthumous librarian, and no other such collection exists in the world.

As Pom Harrington, the owner of Peter Harrington, says ... "We feel very privileged to be able to offer for sale such a large collection of speeches spanning Kennedy's political career up until the time he became the president. This collection also contains arguably one of the best copies of JFK's inaugural speech, which is historically one of the most important speeches ever given ("Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country"). Less than 100 copies of this speech were privately printed by the White House, and the one in this collection was given by JFK to David Powers, the man who helped him get to the White House, and is inscribed "For Dave from John Kennedy Christmas, 1961".

Other highlights of the collection include:

  • "Address of the Honorable John F. Kennedy before the Mass. Federation of Labor, Boston, August 4, 1949" - manuscript with holograph corrections personally typed by JFK;
  • "The Challenge Abroad", a large-type reading copy with extensive deletions in both ink and pencil, including revisions in JFK's hand, of one of his foreign policy speeches (" there is a real possibility in Formosa that the tail in this case will wag the dog that, in the event of Chiang's attack upon the mainland and a Communist retaliation upon Formosa, we will be dragged into a war possibly an atomic war, probably a world war ");
  • "Africa The Coming Challenge", a large-type reading copy delivered at Wesleyan University, with corrections and emendations in JFK's hand, of a speech delivered in 1959 anticipating his formation of the Peace Corps;
  • Seven similar-typed manuscripts of JFK's political speeches in the late 1940s that Powers believed to be the only copies still in existence.

The full collection will be available to view at theBoston International Antiquarian Book FairfromFriday, 10Nov.Sunday, 12Nov.,2017.


Date:1012 Nov. 2017

Location:John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center

Friday 10th 5:00-9:00 p.m. ~ Saturday 11th Noon-7:00 p.m. ~ Sunday 12th Noon-5:00 p.m.


Peter Harrington offers an "unconditional guarantee"for each item it sells on its authenticity and completeness, as described in its literature.

Editor's Background Notes

The Collection Contents

As well as speeches, the collection contains printed pamphlets, autograph notes, to-do lists, drafts of thank you letters, informal notes that probably helped David Powers draft speeches, notes to Powers asking him to send letters or messages on JFK's behalf, Christmas cards from the Kennedys, photographs and other interesting memorabilia.

Material from after Kennedy became President

The material in this collection does not include anything of significance dating after Kennedy's inauguration, as The Presidential Libraries Act of 1955 encouraged future presidents to donate their historical materials to the government.Kennedy acted in the spirit of this Act by choosing to establish the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston and Powers honoured that commitment by keeping in his own collection only material dating prior to the presidency.

Background on David Powers

David Francis Powers (19121998) grew up in Charlestown, Mass., the son of Irish immigrants. He served in every one of Kennedy's political campaigns from 1946-1960 as one of his most important political operatives. In the White House, as Special Assistant, his duties included preparing briefings and ushering distinguished guests into the Oval office. He was Kennedy's most intimate friend, advisorand personal "fixer". Kenneth O'Donnell, top aide to both JFK and Lyndon Johnson, once remarked, "Outside of Bobby, President Kennedy had one really close friend and that was Dave Powers."

Following the assassination (during which Powers was riding in the car behind the President), he remained in the White House until January 1965 when he resigned to assume the post of curator for the planned John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, a position he maintained until 1994.

Peter Harrington Rare Books

Peter Harrington was established in 1969 and specialises in selling and buying the finest-quality original first editions, signed, rare and antiquarian books, fine bindings and library sets. In the 1970s, Peter Harrington started a successful map and print business, and in 2000 it established The Chelsea Bindery, which employs some of the finest binders in the world who make fine bindings and preservation boxes and restore books.

Peter Harrington has two shops in London and books can also be purchased online at their fascinating website They have an enormous stock of fine books dating from the fifteenth to the twentieth centuries in a broad range of subjects, including children's, modern and classical literature, science, natural history, economics, politics, philosophy, history, photography, art, sports, travel and exploration.

Their four-storey, double-fronted shop at 100 Fulham Road, Chelsea, has more than 20,000 volumes and 6,000 prints and old maps, whilst their recently opened shop in Dover Street, Mayfair, has over 7,000 books arranged over two floors. The shops are open daily from Monday-Saturday and visitors who want to buy or sell books or just browse are warmly welcomed.

The company is now run by Pom Harrington (Peter's son) who has been part of the business for over 20 years. He has surrounded himself with over a dozen very experienced experts, many of whom are internationally known and are as passionate about books as he is.


For further information on Peter Harrington, hi-res images, copies of their catalogues and to arrange visits to their shops or interviews with their experts, please contact:

Silks PR & Marketing:

Katie Barkshire- E:

SarahLacaille- E:


Related Files

Peter Harrington - David Powers Collection of JFK Items - USA Press Release Nov 17.pdf


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The David Powers Collection

Papers from the David Powers Collection

Papers from the David Powers Collection

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