History Professor Thomas Carty Takes Part in “Kennedy” Docuseries | Springfield College

History Professor Thomas Carty Takes Part in “Kennedy” Docuseries


Thomas Carty, PhD, Springfield College professor of History, was interviewed for and appears in “Kennedy,” an eight-part docuseries about the life and legacy of John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, which began airing on The History Channel in November 2023.

Carty became involved in the project in 2021 when Ashton Gleckman, the creator of the docuseries, contacted him after reading Carty’s book, A Catholic in the White House? Religion, Politics, and John F. Kennedy’s Presidential Campaign (published in 2004; reissued in paperback in 2008). His book was also used as source material in the docuseries.

As an academic and someone interested in the Kennedy legacy, Carty welcomed the opportunity to participate in the docuseries.

“I have always sought opportunities to speak about my scholarship to a broader public. As academics, we research and write with the goal of advancing the study of a specialized field,” he said. “I have also tried to communicate the importance of history to people beyond the scholarly world.”

Carty’s interest in Kennedy’s rise in politics came initially through his grandparents, who found inspiration in Kennedy’s political successes and became involved in local politics in Massachusetts, including with the Kennedy “political machine.”

“Both my grandparents received invitations to attend the presidential inauguration of 1961, and I have photos of my grandparents with JFK. I spent much of my youth in my maternal grandparents' home, which contained a lot of Kennedy photos, books, and other memorabilia,” said Carty, who teaches and writes about the history of the United States at the College.

When Carty decided to pursue a doctorate in history in 1995, he selected the Kennedy campaign as his research specialty. After completing his dissertation on that topic in 1999, he revised the content and submitted a manuscript to a publisher, which resulted in his A Catholic in the White House? book.

Carty’s research and writing has helped him mentor students in several of his classes. During presidential campaign years, for example, he teaches a class focused on the history of presidential elections—with  the 1960 election as a key turning point. In that year, Kennedy exploited communications and transportation technology in creative ways. Carty has also taught classes on White House Leadership, Religion and the American Presidency, and the Kennedy Era—with special focus on the U.S. mission to land a man on the moon.

“In my classes, we explore topics through which I can offer guidance through my particular research experience. In recent years, for example, my students have written research papers about the role of religion in Joe Biden's 2020 election and Jacqueline Kennedy's impact on U.S. foreign policy,” Carty said.

In 2022, Carty invited Gleckman to speak with his History Seminar class so undergraduates could see an example of someone who presented history to a larger audience in a unique format. Springfield College offers a public history minor, which trains our students to present the past to people through institutions such as popular media, archives, and museums. In recent years, History majors have pursued graduate study in these areas, and Carty hopes more of our students might consider career opportunities in this field.

The eight-hour docuseries is told through a cinematic library of archival materials and via more than 70 new interviews from those well-versed in JFK’s history. Besides Carty, others interviewed include Kennedy’s niece Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, comedian Conan O’Brien (also a long-time member of the JFK Library Foundation's Board of Directors), actor Bruce Greenwood (who previously portrayed Kennedy in film), and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Eileen McNamara.

The initial airing of the Kennedy docuseries coincided with the 60th anniversary of his assassination. “Kennedy” will later be released on The History Vault and on video-on-demand platforms like Amazon and iTunes worldwide.