Robert and Ethel Kennedy traveled the globe during his time as Attorney General and later as Senator.  Kennedy’s good will tours focused on the advancement of democracy and human rights all over the world.  Despite the serious nature of these international travels, the Kennedys were able to bring home dolls reflecting the culture of the countries they visited.  

After spending a half century in private Kennedy family hands, many of these dolls will be available for the public to see. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the eldest of Robert’s 11 children whose own life has been dedicated to public service, recently loaned over 200 of the dolls to the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum.  These dolls give us insight into many societies around the world. We are very grateful to Kathleen for her generous loan that will certainly enhance our visitors’ experience. 

This small exhibit is just a sample of what will be introduced in 2022 when we unveil a comprehensive exhibit of the dolls and the nations they represent.

Doll 32

Origin: Japan

While visiting Japan, RFK toured several factories to see their emerging economy firsthand. He also went to the farmlands where he received a warm welcome from school children.

Doll 161

Origin: Japan

During RFK’s visit in 1962, most Japanese people were happy to meet Kennedy and his wife Ethel, though some of his speeches were interrupted by communist hecklers.

Doll 20

Origin: Poland

RKF’s visit to Poland on July4th, 1964 attracted large crowds. He challenged the Polish people’s complacency with the Soviet Union, as he worked to promote the peace and well-being of mankind.

Doll 3

Origin: Peru

In November 1965, RFK visited Peru for 4 days as part of a 3-week Latin American tour. Along with support for Peru’s national sovereignty, he told young Peruvians in a speech that a good education was necessary for Peru to become developed.

Doll 9

Origin: Peru

The Quena in this man’s right hand is the traditional flute of the Andes which is typically made from cane or wood. In the 1960’s and 70’s Quena music played a profound role in the pro-democracy social upheavals in Latin America.

Doll 200

Origin: Greece

The June 1966 visit to Greece was very special. Kennedy greatly admired Greece as the birthplace of democracy. He often found solace in the words of ancient Greek writers and used their quotes in many speeches.

Doll 74

Origin: Native American

Robert F. Kennedy was a champion of rights for indigenous Americans and visited many reservations. He gave a speech to the National Congress of American Indians in 1963 lamenting the poor treatment on the reservations and the overlooked rights of Native Americans.