Hoover Institution Archives Acquires the Papers of Jude Wanniski and Robert L. Bartley

Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Portrait of Jude Wanniski
Portrait of Jude Wanniski

The Hoover Institution is pleased to announce the acquisition of the archival collections of journalists Jude Wanniski and Robert L. Bartley, two of the most influential interpreters and advocates of conservative economic theories during the past several decades, whose writings helped popularize those theories and influence politicians and policy makers during the 1970s and 1980s and whose impact was most notably felt during the early years of the Reagan administration.

Robert L. Bartley

Robert L. Bartley (1937–2003) served as editorial page editor of the Wall Street Journal for more than thirty years, during which time he refashioned that section of the newspaper into a prominent arena for conservative political and economic thought, using the paper to champion many of the doctrines that became policy during the Reagan years, such as lower taxes, smaller government, and a buildup of the nation’s defenses.  Following Bartley’s retirement from the Wall Street Journal in 2002, Jack Kemp was quoted in the Boston Globe as saying that Bartley’s role “was of seminal importance to the Reagan Revolution,” noting that the editorial page of the Journal “provided the underpinnings intellectually for Reagan’s economic policy.”  Robert Novak also commented in the Weekly Standard, about the same time, that Bartley’s editorial page was “the communications engine of the supply-side movement” and that, without it, “supply-side economics would have been stillborn.” 

The Robert L. Bartley Papers at the Hoover Institution Archives contain more than 120 boxes of material documenting his long career at the Journal, including subject files of material on topics of interest to him, documents and photographs relating to the Pulitzer Prize that he was awarded for editorial writing in 1980, manuscript drafts of his writings, and a rich collection of correspondence with political figures, academics, and other journalists, such as William F. Buckley Jr. and Senator Daniel P. Moynihan; political commentators Kevin P. Phillips and Norman Podhoretz; and ­­­­­­­­­Treasury secretary William E. Simon, among others.

Jude Wanniski

Among the many writers who worked with Bartley at the Journal, Jude Wanniski (1936--2005) was the one who most avidly supported and popularized supply-side economics through his writings and whose name was closely linked with these ideas.  Hired by Bartley to work with a number of other young writers at that newspaper in 1972, Wanniski soon established himself as a leading proponent of conservative economic theories.  At a meeting with the economists Arthur Laffer and Robert Mundell in 1974, Wanniski was won over to the ideas that became known as supply-side economics after Laffer drew a chart on a cocktail napkin explaining how a cut in taxes would spur growth in the economy.  Throughout the late 1970s and 1980s, Wanniski did as much as anyone to popularize those theories through his writing at the Journal, his outside consulting work for various political candidates, including presidential hopefuls Jack Kemp, Bob Dole, and much later in the 1990s Steve Forbes, and through his 1978 book, The Way the World Works. 

Wanniski’s collection of papers contain a rich array of correspondence from the 1970s onward with political figures, journalists, and other well-known figures, ranging from Kemp, Dole, Forbes, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, and Newt Gingrich to Bill Bradley and Bill Clinton, among others.  In many cases, Wanniski would write letters to various members of Congress and presidential advisers to propose economic policies, generating substantive discussions from their responses.   As such, Wanniski’s papers are a valuable documentary record of the shaping of economic policy at a pivotal point in this country’s recent history.