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Jackie Kennedy Onassis Spent Formative Years In the Hudson Valley

Jacqueline & John F. Kennedy
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Before she became First Lady, Jackie Kennedy Onassis spent some of her most formative years here in the Hudson Valley.


In 1947, then Jacqueline Bouvier enrolled at Vassar College in 1947 as part of the class of 1951. Jackie spent her freshman and sophomore years in Poughkeepsie. She she got good grades at Vassar and made Dean’s List, reports the New York Times.

“Alert, alive, independent, and fond of discussion,” is how her Vassar professors described her, according to Vassar College.

At the end of her freshman year, Jackie decided to major in English and minor in art. Outside of the classroom, in the spring of 1948, she won a Reserve Championship in the Vassar Horse Show.

Classmates described her as quiet and shy, who spent many weekends away. However, the friendships she formed at Vassar lasted a lifetime. Helen E. Sandison, a Shakespeare professor, was Jackie’s favorite teacher at Vassar. Years later, Sandison was an honored guest when Jackie and President John F. Kennedy selected scenes from various Shakespeare plays during a visit from the President of Sudan.

Prior to delivering the Commencement Address at Vassar in 1963, Jackie looked back fondly about her time spent in Dutchess County.

“I miss Vassar very much. I am looking forward to returning,” she told the college. “I like Vassar, even though I left after two years. Jack likes it too.”

Jackie studied aboard in Paris as part of a Vassar program her junior year. Following her junior year, Jackie finished her bachelor’s degree at George Washington University.

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Firefighters cut the roof of a building where a fire spread at Hudson Terrace in the City of Poughkeepsie.

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