Online Collection

35mm b&w negative of Black Jack, the riderless horse, in the funeral cortege

Object Number: 2017.062.0004.0001
Category: Photographs
Photographer: Donald Hughes
Type of Object: Negative (b&w)
Dimensions: 15/16 × 1 7/16 in. (2.4 × 3.7 cm)
Medium: Film
Original 35mm black and white negative of the procession taking President Kennedy's casket to the U.S. Capitol to lie in state on Sunday, November 24, 1963, taken by Donald Hughes, who was a high school yearbook photographer.

Image shows a dark horse with an empty saddle on its back, backward-facing riding boot in the stirrup, and saber hanging from the dee strap near the rear padding of the saddle. The riderless horse is a tradition associated with military funerals; the backward-facing boots symbolize the fallen leader surveying his troops for the last time.

Black Jack is led by Private First Class Arthur A. Carlson of the 3rd Infantry, although all but Carlson's legs and gloved hand are obscured by the horse. Crowds of mourners are visible in the middle ground; many hold cameras and are taking pictures. Two children are seated on the curb watching the funeral cortege pass. A member of the military is standing in front of the crowd and is saluting the procession.

President Kennedy's casket lay in state in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol for almost twenty-four hours, from Sunday, November 24, 1963, until the morning of Monday, November 25, 1963, when the casket was taken to St. Matthew's Cathedral for the funeral Mass and later to Arlington National Cemetery.

These images are not available online larger than a thumbnail to protect the copyright of their creator(s). For a more detailed examination of this item, please schedule an appointment in the Museum’s Reading Room.
Curator's Notes

Included in the Museum's temporary exhibit, "Mourning a President," about the funeral and mourning rites for President John F. Kennedy, this item will be on display on the Museum's seventh floor from November 17, 2017 to February 19, 2018. -- Lindsey Richardson, Curator of Collections

Seventeen-year-old Maryland high school student Donald Hughes took a series of black and white photographs of the Kennedy funeral procession from the White House to the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on Sunday, November 24, 1963. Although Hughes was a yearbook photographer for his high school, he was not "on assignment" that Sunday and does not recall any of his funeral images ending up in the 1964 yearbook. In fact, Hughes' photographs were largely unseen until they were featured online by The New York Times in 2013. Hughes recorded an oral history with The Sixth Floor Museum in 2017. 

Arthur Carlson, the nineteen-year-old U.S. Army Private First Class who led the horse Black Jack, recorded an oral history with The Sixth Floor Museum in 2010. -- Stephen Fagin, Curator

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