In December of 1985 Ronald Reagan, speaking at a banquet given in honor of the thirtieth anniversary of the conservative journal The National Review, commented, “I can assure you: National Review is to the offices of the West Wing of the White House what People magazine is to your dentist’s waiting room.”
Now in its sixtieth year, the magazine is publishing a series of features about the history and legacy of William F. Buckley’s influential journal, including a recent article by Hoover Library & Archives researcher Laurence Jurdem, who received his Ph.D. in American history from Fordham University and is an independent scholar in San Francisco. Jurdem’s article is adapted from his doctoral dissertation, “Paving the Way for Reagan: Journals of Conservative Opinion and the Crystallization of Republican Foreign Policy 1964–1980” and highlights the long and rich relationship between Reagan and Buckley. Considering Buckley an individual who “changed our country, indeed our century,” Reagan throughout his life praised the National Review as one of the most important forums for discussing conservative solutions to national and international policies.
While working on his dissertation, Jurdem consulted Hoover L&A’s extensive Firing Line collection, which features materials related to Buckley’s well-known television show. From 1966 to 1999, Firing Line was a venue for debate and discussion on political, social, and philosophical issues with experts of the day. The broadcast collection includes administrative files, program preparation materials, photographs, transcripts, sound recordings, and videotape copies of the 1,505 programs. The online finding aid for the collection provides links to video clips on YouTube, and links to complete video programs on Amazon.com.
In April of 2016, Hoover Library & Archives will open a new exhibition related to Firing Line and its influence on twentieth-century politics, art, and culture.