Ask not what Maud Shaw did for the Kennedys… because you can read all about it in her diary, which was just sold for $3,327 by Boston’s RR Auction house. Maud worked as the family’s nanny from 1957, when Caroline was born, until 1965, when she retired (she died at 85 in 1988).
A proper English nanny in the Mary Poppins tradition, Maud kept records of the Kennedy kids’ development. “Says Da- Da, laughs very loudly, play[s] pat-a-cake,” she wrote of Caroline in 1959. Three years later, she noted that John F. Kennedy Jr. was “repeating words after me — very well.”
The 22-page diary ends in 1962, but Maud later wrote a book, White House Nannie: My Years with Caroline and John Kennedy Jr., that revealed how she broke the news to six-year-old Caroline that her father had been killed. Jacqueline’s mom, Janet Auchincloss, thought it best for her to do it due to Shaw’s strong bond with the children.
Maud fixing Caroline’s hair.
“I sat on the edge of Caroline’s bed and felt tears well up in my eyes,” Maud wrote. “I took her in my arms. ‘I can’t help crying, Caroline, because I have some very sad news.’ Then I told her. It was a dreadful time for us both. Eventually she fell asleep while I sat on the bed, still patting her.”
Maud maintained a close connection to the kids after she left the family’s employ, and postcards they sent her in later years were included in the auction. “I miss you,” Caroline wrote to Shaw in 1967. “We are in Mexico now. It is beautiful!”
Though she worked for other families in England, Iran, and Egypt, Shaw admitted the Kennedys were her favorite charges. “I have a deeper love for them than all the others, perhaps because we have seen so much together,” she said. “I nursed them from the cradle and came to love them as if they had been my own. Happily, they repaid me with their own love and affection.”