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

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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.)
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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com, where he also oversees the Technology Channel. 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.

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