James A. Baker Papers Opening Soon

By Dan Linke

James A. Baker III ’52, the distinguished public servant and five-time presidential campaign manager who served as the 61st U.S. Secretary of State, will open his papers that are held at the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library at Princeton University on January 1, 2018. Donated in 2002, originally the papers were to remain closed during Baker’s lifetime or until his 100th birthday. Soon researchers will be able to examine his work in senior government positions under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, as well as his role in five consecutive presidential campaigns from 1976 to 1992 for Presidents Gerald Ford, Reagan, and Bush.

In 1976 Baker (pictured here) served as President Gerald Ford’s “delegate hunter” in the primary race, successfully fending off a challenge from Ronald Reagan, then went on to lead Ford’s national campaign in the fall. In the 1980 primary, he was the campaign manager for his close friend and tennis partner George H. W. Bush, then joined the Reagan-Bush campaign for the general election. He would then serve as the campaign manager for the subsequent three Republican presidential campaigns.  (From the James A. Baker III Papers, Box 265, Folder 1.)

Baker served as President Reagan’s Chief of Staff from 1981-1985, and then became Secretary of Treasury in Reagan’s second term. Shortly after George H.W. Bush won the 1988 presidential election, he named Baker his Secretary of State. Under President Bush, Baker served as the country’s chief diplomat where he oversaw a remarkable period in American foreign policy, as the Berlin Wall fell, the Soviet Union dissolved, Germany was reunified, and the world united against Iraq to liberate Kuwait. A full finding aid to the collection is available online, as are the Mudd library’s researcher policies and services.

As Ronald Reagan’s Chief of Staff, Baker formed and led the White House Legislative Strategy Group, which has been credited with playing a major role in the Reagan administration’s key legislative accomplishments. This memo contains Baker’s handwritten annotations, which are found in documents throughout his papers and often provide insight into his thinking and planning. (From the James A. Baker III Papers, Box 59, Folder 8.)

“I am very pleased that Secretary Baker has decided to open his collection, as scholars of all stripes interested in both domestic and foreign affairs in the 1980s and 1990s will surely benefit from having access to his correspondence, memos, and speeches that document the important role he played,” said Dan Linke, Curator of Public Policy Papers. “This will certainly become one of our most used collections, I have no doubt. Princeton students writing theses as well as faculty from universities from around the world will benefit from being able to study the documentary legacy of this Princeton alumnus who served our nation with great distinction.”

One small portion of the collection will remain closed: within Series 12, interview transcripts conducted for Baker’s memoir, The Politics of Diplomacy, found in Box 331 cannot be accessed without permission of the individual interviewees.

N.B. Because of the New Year holiday, the Mudd Library will not be open on January 1, 2018. This collection will be accessible to all registered researchers on January 2, 2018.

 

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