Caroline Kennedy captivated an audience of more than 1,000 people in Pfeiffer Hall Oct. 5 with stories about her parents and her family’s experiences in helping shape American history.
Her parents shared a love of reading, she said during an appearance as part of the North Central College Sesquicentennial Author Series presented by Anderson’s Bookshops. She related personal stories and played audio excerpts from her new book, “Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy,” a chronicle of seven interviews her mother gave in 1964 to historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr.
“The underlying goal of the oral history project was to capture people’s recollections while they were fresh,” Kennedy said. “Their most important value is that they make history come alive. They give all of us a glimpse of the human side of the people serving in the White House and remind us that they’re just as imperfect as the rest of us.”
Kennedy was introduced by Becky Anderson Wilkins, a co-owner of Anderson’s Bookshops and a 1982 alumna of North Central College. Anderson is current president of the American Booksellers Association, and Anderson’s Bookshops is the Publishers Weekly 2011 Bookstore of the Year.
“We were thrilled to know Caroline would be coming back to Naperville,” Anderson said. “We’ve partnered to bring many incredible voices to Naperville and to North Central College.”
Anderson was introduced by College President Harold R. Wilde, who recounted how Anderson grew up in a home next to Pfeiffer Hall and how her family and the College share a long common history in Naperville. Anderson is the great-great-granddaughter of William Wallace Wickel, who opened a pharmacy in 1875 when Naperville was a small farming community.
“It is fitting in the Sesquicentennial of this College, founded the year Abraham Lincoln became president, that we gather in this historic 85-year-old hall, on a stage where leading figures of our time, from the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., to another Illinoisan elected president, Barack Obama, have come before,” Wilde said. “For our subject tonight is very much the way the history we have experienced together, and the men and women who shaped it, continue to be a vital presence in each of our lives, a source of hope and joy and inspiration.”
Anderson’s Bookshops previously brought Kennedy to speak in Naperville in 2005 at Naperville Central High School and in 2007 at its Jefferson Avenue store, Anderson said. North Central College’s Sesquicentennial Author Series began with a talk by Tyra Banks Sept. 15 and continues with appearances by Philippa Gregory on Oct. 23 and Bill Bryson on Oct. 26.
North Central College’s yearlong Sesquicentennial Celebration commemorates the 150th anniversary of the first day of classes on November 11, 1861, and the College’s role in helping to shape the fabric of the Naperville community. Throughout its history, North Central College alumni have distinguished themselves as leaders in the arts, sciences, business, education and many other areas of study. Numerous Sesquicentennial events and projects are planned throughout 2011 and into 2012. Visit northcentralcollege.edu/150 to learn more.