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This collection is available in whole for research use. Some folders may still have withdrawn material due to Freedom of Information Act restrictions. Most frequently withdrawn material is national security classified material, personal privacy, protection of the President, etc.



Scope and Content Note

The Reagan Administration Office of Speechwriting consisted of two major filing systems: Speechwriting Research and Speech Drafts. The Library treats each filing system as a separate collection.

Speech Drafts consists of multiple drafts from the first version to the final product for each speech, message, taping, and radio address. Speeches were “staffed” at the White House to all major staff offices with an interest in each particular speech. Staff returned comments, editing and annotations. Filing of this material was inconsistent throughout the administration. The staff comments can be within the WHORM Subject File “SP" subject category for any particular speech or within the draft for the speech. Sometimes they are duplicated in both places.

Because of these multiple filing systems, the Library recommends researchers look at the entire speech “evolution” from the Speech Research folder, the Speech Draft to the final SP category for a full idea of the creation of each speech. Not every speech has each: a speech research, draft and SP category, but the majority do have all three units.

The Speechwriting Office: Speech Drafts consists of three series. They are Series I: Speech Drafts, 1981-1989, Series II: Edited and Unused Speeches (2 subseries), and Series III: Non-Presidential Speeches (2 subseries).


SERIES I: Speech Drafts, 1981-1989

This series consists of the various drafts for specific presidential speeches, statements, messages, radio addresses, and tapings. Folders contain the multiple drafts of each speech. Each draft is usually marked in the upper right corner with the time and date of the draft and includes the speechwriter's name/initials and often the speech researcher's name/initials. In addition, the folders may contain the White House staff memorandums for circulating a speech draft among the White House staff. These memos may contain editing or approval remarks from specific White House staff members about a particular speech. Often they have attached memos or copies of the drafts with editing and annotations.

Some speeches were drafted but never used. These folders are marked with "not used." Some major speeches consist of more than one file if a great amount of outside input was involved or various versions were circulated. These folders are usually marked "File #1," etc.

President Reagan did edit speeches in the draft version. The drafts are generally not marked with accredited Reagan edits - the researcher needs to be familiar with President Reagan's handwriting. However, it is possible to cross-reference with the handwriting file to find President Reagan edits for speeches.

Reactions to speeches, letters and cables from members of the public and various interested parties can normally be found in the White House Office of Records Management Subject File SP category for any particular speech.

Material in folders consists of these drafts, memos, correspondence, and notes. It is arranged chronologically by speech. Folder titles will include the date of the remarks and the major speechwriter and researcher for that particular speech.

SERIES II: EDITED AND UNUSED SPEECHES, 1982-1986 (1 l.ft.; Box 430-434)

This series consists of two subseries: Subseries A: National Security Council (NSC) Letters, 1982-1983 and Subseries B: Unused Radio Talk Subjects.

Subseries A: National Security Council (NSC) Letters, 1982-1983

Subseries A consists of material sent to the Speechwriting Office by the NSC for their editing and clearance comments. In this instance the Speechwriting Office was not originating the material but acting in a staff function for the NSC . Most of the letters are to various Heads of State. Much of the material is still closed for research due to national security classification. The material consists of the edited letters and correspondence between the NSC and the Speechwriting Office. The material is in chronological order and the subseries is for February 1981-December 1983 only.

Subseries B: Unused Radio Talk Subjects

Subseries B consists of memorandum, letters, notes and draft speeches from various White House staff members, and federal agencies to the White House Speechwriting Office suggesting topics for President Reagan’s weekly radio address. The material was not used as far as we can determine. It is in one folder, arranged chronologically.

SERIES III: NON-PRESIDENTIAL SPEECH FILES, 1981-1989 (2 l.ft; Box 435-441)

This series consists of two subseries: Subseries A: Nancy Reagan Speeches and Remarks, and Subseries B: White House Staff, the Vice President & Cabinet Speeches and Remarks.

Subseries A: Nancy Reagan Speeches and Remarks, 1981-1989

Subseries A consists of speech drafts and remarks for use by First Lady Nancy Reagan. They were produced by various speechwriters and some folders contain the name of the specific speechwriter. They are arranged chronologically by speech date. 

Subseries B: White House Staff, the Vice President & Cabinet Speeches and Remarks, 1981-1985

Subseries B consists of speech drafts, remarks and suggested lighter material for use by members of the White House staff, the Cabinet, the Vice President and a few other individuals close to or members of the Reagan Administration. Speeches are for Chief of Staff James Baker, Counsellor to the President Edwin Meese, Deputy Chief of Staff Michael Deaver, National Security Advisor William Clark, Chief of Staff Donald Regan and White House staff members Dave Fischer, Robert Garrick, Edward Hickey, Lyn Nofziger, E. Pendelton James, Ed Rollins and Faith Whittlesey; Vice President George Bush; United States Trade Representative William Brock, Attorney General William French Smith and Secretary of the Treasury Donald Regan. Other material is for Senator Paul Laxalt and Ambassador William Wilson. In addition, there are a few generic speeches on various topics written for anyone in the administration to use. Drafts are arranged alphabetically by the speech giver and then chronologically. Folders are very often marked with the main speechwriter's name.

Last Updated: 06/01/2023 01:59PM

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See Also

Speechwriting, White House Office of: Records, 1981-1989

Speechwriting, White House Office of: Research Office: Records, 1981-1989

WHORM Speeches: SP-SP728

WHORM Speeches: SP729-SP1316

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