Presidential collections

by Laurel Eide 

The fascination began in middle school and ever since then, Amber Manley can’t seem to get enough of the Kennedys.


“We started learning about the presidents in class and I just thought [John] Kennedy sounded like a very interesting man,” Manley said.

But it’s not just JFK that captivates her—It’s the whole family. However, she doesn't buy everything Kennedy related she sees. “If something grabs my attention, I’ll get it,” Manley said.

Manley seeks out many items at antique stores and thrift shops. “You never know what you’ll find. It really depends on what people drop off at certain places,” Manley said.

While Manley has no idea how many total pieces of Kennedy memorabilia she owns, the collection includes videos, T-shirts, over 30 books and a bust of JFK, which she won at an auction for $2. “I seem to get things pretty reasonable,” she said. “I think the most I’ve paid for one thing is $25 for a book.”

The pieces included several newspapers and magazines filled with news of the young president’s assassination and funeral. A large part of her collection was given to her by her late grandmother. Manley said the magazines aren’t worth as much as one would think, as many people collected them once JFK was assassinated, Manley said. Many of her Kennedy items are still in boxes and bags. A move into Underwood, Minn. from the country meant limited space in her home for Manley to display her collection.

Although Manley has a difficult time choosing a favorite item, she finally decided a rug that features JFK with the American flag waving behind him is a cherished piece of her collection. “He died so young,” she said. “I think it’s just all so fascinating. After JFK Jr. died, I remember thinking the Kennedy family must be cursed.”

Manley does not believe people will lose interest in the Kennedy family anytime soon. “People just keep discovering Kennedy,” she said.

When asked if her husband, Matthew, shared in her hobby, Manley laughed and shook her head. “No, he’s into electronics, especially video games,” she said. “He thinks I’m a packrat.”