One of America’s most prominent and renowned 20th century families harbored a tightly held secret for many decades. Rose Marie “Rosemary” Kennedy was the first daughter born to Rose and Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. As she grew it soon became apparent that Rosemary had intellectual disabilities. This information was hush-hushed by the family due to the stigma attached to such incapacities in the early 1900s.
After Rosemary’s death in 2005, her diaries and correspondence, as well as letters from her school and doctors, were released and her long-concealed medical records were made available to the public. This new historical data, plus interviews with some of her caregivers, reveal details about the nature of Rosemary’s developmental disabilities and the family’s response to this child who was a family embarrassment.