Douglas Brinkley: Ronald Reagan’s note card collection being published

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

Source: USA Today, 5-8-11

“When the music of a nation becomes fast, wild & discordant it shows the nation is in confusion.” — Chinese Proverb 400 B.C.

  • The Reagan Library found a box of hundreds of note cards on which President Reagan had written things he would use in speeches.Ronald Reagan LibraryThe Reagan Library found a box of hundreds of note cards on which President Reagan had written things he would use in speeches.

The Reagan Library found a box of hundreds of note cards on which President Reagan had written things he would use in speeches.

When speechwriter Ken Khachigan sat down with Ronald Reagan after the 1980 election to draft his first inaugural address, the president-elect pulled out a sheaf of note cards written in his cramped hand of quotes and concepts he wanted to include.

“He had all this stuff he had stored up all these years — all these stories, all these anecdotes,” Khachigan recalls. “He had the Reagan library in his own little file system.”

Hoary jokes. Lines from poems. Stray historical facts. Quotes from the Founding Fathers, famous authors and communist apparatchiks.

When Reagan died, the stacks of cards he had accumulated over half a century were packed in a cardboard box, labeled “RR’s desk” and put in storage at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum, only to be rediscovered recently as the library prepared to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Reagan’s birth this year.

Edited by historian Douglas Brinkley, a selection is being published Tuesday in The Notes: Ronald Reagan’s Private Collection of Stories and Wisdom. The cards also are going on display at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif.

The book offers a window into the mind of the nation’s 40th president. Like the handwritten scripts from his days as a radio commentator in the 1970s — published in Reagan, In His Own Hand in 2001 —The Notes displays the effort he made behind the scenes to hone his performance as a speechmaker and storyteller driving home a conservative political philosophy….READ MORE

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