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It’s an ex­pan­sive and quintessen­tially Kennedy photo al­bum. Here’s a young, shirt­less JFK, bar­ing six-pack abs and smirk­ing pool­side while strik­ing an un-pres­i­den­tial pose. There’s Rose Fitzger­ald not-yet-Kennedy in her Sun­day best, long be­fore she’d be­come the fam­ily ma­tri­arch and trade girl­hood grins for im­pe­ri­ous stares. Here’s Kath­leen Kennedy, awk­wardly twist­ing up­side down in a skirt to kiss Ire­land’s Blar­ney Stone. There’s lit­tle Teddy Kennedy on the play­ground, sport­ing skinned knees.

The John F. Kennedy Pres­i­den­tial Li­brary and Mu­seum has com­pleted an 18-month project to cat­a­logue and digi­tise more than 1700 vin­tage fam­ily snap­shots, and they’re now all view­able on­line — a pho­to­graphic fix that’s sure to feed the na­tion’s con­tin­u­ing ob­ses­sion with Camelot.

“It’s just fun to see where the cam­era took them,” said Ni­cola Mantzaris, a dig­i­tal ar­chiv­ist who helped com­pile and cat­a­logue the frag­ile neg­a­tives, all care­fully stored in sub­freez­ing tem­per­a­tures to slow their chem­i­cal de­com­po­si­tion.

“If you think about your own fam­ily pho­tos and in what dis­ar­ray they are in and just the vol­ume — there’s def­i­nitely a uni­ver­sal as­pect to this,” she said.

Many of the pho­tos are or­di­nary snaps of typ­i­cal Amer­i­can fam­ily life in the first half of the 20th cen­tury: va­ca­tions, hol­i­days, kids mug­ging for the cam­era, meals cap­tured ever so slightly out of fo­cus. But the can­did im­ages throw open a new win­dow into a world that few have been able to peer into with­out phys­i­cally vis­it­ing the pres­i­den­tial li­brary in Bos­ton, and even then by ap­point­ment.

The col­lec­tion is the cul­mi­na­tion of what pres­i­den­tial his­to­ri­ans dubbed the “Ni­trate Neg­a­tive Project”, a nos­tal­gic look back at the Kennedys through the lenses of the af­ford­able cam­eras and black-and­white film that ush­ered in the era of am­a­teur pho­tog­ra­phy and fam­ily al­bums. The new tech­nol­ogy also laid the foun­da­tion for to­day’s so­cial shar­ing plat­forms such as In­sta­gram, com­plete with a few amus­ing in­stances of Kennedys ap­pear­ing to pho­to­bomb one an­other.

The digi­ti­sa­tion ef­fort was launched last year to co­in­cide with cel­e­bra­tions mark­ing the 100th an­niver­sary of JFK’s birth.

“They’re the clos­est coun­ter­part to a royal fam­ily that Amer­i­cans have,” says Pa­trick Maney, a Bos­ton Col­lege pro­fes­sor who spe­cialises in pres­i­den­tial his­tory. “There’s a per­cep­tion that it was a golden age in Amer­ica, and in some ways it was.”

Th­ese pho­tographs fas­ci­nate all the more be­cause they were taken be­fore most of their youth­ful sub­jects went on to great­ness.

No less evoca­tive: How one can see in their young faces their adult selves — hints of the im­pact­ful pub­lic ser­vants and house­hold names they would be­come.

The flap­per fash­ion of the era, too, cap­tures the imag­i­na­tion: bobbed hair, cloche hats and cig­a­rettes. —AP

From left, John F Kennedy, JeanKennedy, Robert F Kennedy, Kennedy, Joseph P Kennedy Sr, Pa­tri­ciaKennedy, Rose

Pho­tos / Kennedy Fam­ily Col­lec­tion / John F Kennedy Li­brary Foun­da­tion via AP

Left, Rose Fitzger­ald poses at Wind­sor Cas­tle in Wind­sor in Berk­shire, Eng­land.Below, John F Kennedy, right, Robert F Kennedy, sec­ond from right, and Pa­tri­cia Kennedy, front left, pose with friends in Palm Beach, Florida.

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