White House Photographer's Works on Exhibit at UTC this Month

One of the most famous photographs of modern times – Jacqueline Kennedy and Robert Kennedy holding hands behind the casket of John Kennedy on the day of his assassination– will be on exhibit at the UTC Lupton Library from March 18-28. Exhibit hours will be 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., with hours extended to 9 p.m. on March 18 and 25.

The poignant picture of the grieving family members was captured by John Rous, who grew up in Chattanooga and enjoyed a distinguished career as a White House photographer for three decades.

In his will Rous bequeathed to UTC more than 50 shots of world leaders and events from the body of his work that spanned six presidencies.

The exhibit of Rous’s works will include his photograph of JFK and son, John, leaving a Hyannisport hospital after visiting Jackie. The First Lady had just given birth to their third child who died two days later.

Also on display will be a shot of Harry Truman and Thomas Dewey shaking hands before the razor-close election of 1948, a picture of Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower on an outing and the last official photograph of President Franklin Roosevelt.

The exhibit will include 30 framed pictures and a couple of dozen unframed prints, as well as letters, invitations and other memorabilia from Rous’s White House years.

Rous went to work for The Washington Herald in 1933. After World War II he joined the Associated Press as one of the White House photographers. Over the years he served as president of the White House News Photographers Association and won more than 30 awards in WHNPA contests.

Lupton Library director Sheila Delacroix says the second-floor conference room will be converted into a gallery for the exhibit. She calls the show "a trial project" that may lead to more public exhibits from the library’s collections.

"We feel very fortunate to have received 50 of Mr. Rous’s most prized shots," says Steve Cox, head of special collections. "He had a front row seat at important events, and of all the photographs he took, these are the ones that hung on the walls of his Virginia apartment before his death in 1995."

Rous never attended UTC but he obviously had fond memories of his boyhood in Chattanooga.

Just two years before he died in 1995 at age 82, Rous told a reporter that his mother was a one-time head of the Tennessee Republican women and a grandfather, John Henry Springfield, was once speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives.