The President’s Daily Diary is a day-by-day record of Ronald Reagan’s eight years as President. It chronicles such activities as meetings, briefings, press conferences, telephone calls, photo sessions, meals, travel, and recreation. Presidential Diarist Ellen Jones (McCathran), a National Archives employee detailed to the White House, had chief responsibility for creating the Diary, based on documents provided by various White House units.
The primary Diary document for most days is a log, entered on a standard form. The logs list starting and ending times for activities, brief descriptions for activities which require explanation, and information on persons or groups involved. Some log entries refer to appendices which provide full participant lists, and other additional information, for certain meetings, air travel, and social affairs.
The Daily Diary originally contained several gaps, up to three weeks in length, which usually corresponded to President Reagan’s trips outside the Washington, DC area. The Diary also stopped completely in October 1988, apparently because the Diarist fell behind in compiling it. In order to fill the gaps, the Reagan Library has transferred to the Daily Diary selected documents from other collections within the Office of the Presidential Diary. The transferred materials consist of draft versions of logs and appendices, plus other documents containing the types of information generally found in the Daily Diary. With the additional materials, there are only a few days which are totally missing from the Daily Diary. However, documentation for many days, especially days President Reagan spent at Camp David or Rancho del Cielo (his California ranch), remains slight. The Diary does not always provide a complete list of participants for every event, and sometimes refers the reader to appendices which were never created.