ABOUT THE PUBLIC PAPERS OF PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN
The Public Papers of the President:
Ronald Reagan, contain papers and speeches of the 40th President of the
The material is presented in
chronological order so the date shown in the heading is the date of the
document or event. Instances when the
release date differs from the date of the document are noted. Extra
effort was made to ensure accuracy. For instance, tape recordings of
Presidential remarks are used to check for errors in transcription and signed
documents are compared to the originals for verification. Text notes, footnotes, and cross references
are provided for purposes of clarity. All speeches were delivered in
The Public Papers series as we know it today began in 1957 at the recommendation of the National Historical Publications Commission. Prior to that, official publication of the President’s public papers was not commonplace. In the 19th century, James D. Richardson assembled an extensive compilation of messages and papers of the Presidents, published under Congressional authority, covering the period 1789 to 1897. However, after that, only various private compilations were issued and there was no uniform, official publication comparable to the Congressional Record or the United States Supreme Court Reports. Many Presidential papers could only be found in the form of mimeographed White House releases or in news media reports. As such, the NHPC recommended the establishment of an official series to make public Presidential writings, addresses and remarks available to all.
In 1965, a companion publication to the Public Papers series, the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, began providing a broader range of Presidential materials on a timelier basis for contemporary readers. Material now included the President's daily schedule, when announced, and other items of general interest issued by the Office of the Press Secretary. Also included were Presidential nominations and legislation signed by the President. The Public Papers series expanded its coverage in the Carter administration to include, as it does today, all material printed in the Weekly Compilation.