JFK's Doodles From a Meeting at the Height of the Cuban Missile Crisis

More

Missile. Missile. Missile.

doodles_big.jpg


On October 25, 1962, the Cuban Missile Crisis was reaching its zenith. It may not be an exaggeration to say the world was on the verge of ending. On that day, President John F. Kennedy met with his Security Council. As he received updates on the situation, he took some notes on a yellow legal pad, which was preserved for posterity. 

The note is stored in the National Archives with the following title: "Doodles Annotated with the Words Missiles, Missiles, Missiles, 10/25/1962 - 10/25/1962." You can click it to see the full-size image.

Note in the upper left corner: "Veto. Close Surveillance. Veto. Veto. Veto. Veto." And perhaps a "camouflage" down on the lower right. Philip Bump pointed out "Peral Harbor" (!) in the bottom right as well. 

(This is the kind of artifact that reminds me that real, actual, doodling people had to deal with managing the world's nuclear weapons stockpile. Draw box. Write missile in it. Consider nuclear apocalypse I can avert. Draw circle. Write missile in it. Ponder the end of the world. Draw circle. Write missile in it.)
Jump to comments
Presented by

Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

A Delightful, Pixar-Inspired Cartoon About the Toys in Your Cereal Box

The story of an action figure and his reluctant sidekick, who trek across a kitchen in search of treasure.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Juice Cleanses: The Worst Diet

A doctor tries the ever-popular Master Cleanse. Sort of.

Video

Why Did I Study Physics?

Using hand-drawn cartoons to explain an academic passion

Video

What If Emoji Lived Among Us?

A whimsical ad imagines what life would be like if emoji were real.

Video

Living Alone on a Sailboat

"If you think I'm a dirtbag, then you don't understand the lifestyle."

Feature

The Future of Iced Coffee

Are artisan businesses like Blue Bottle doomed to fail when they go mainstream?

Writers

Up
Down

More in Global

Just In