About the National Archives

Welcome Remarks for "Lady in Red: An Intimate Portrait of Nancy Reagan"

Good afternoon, and welcome to the William G. McGowan Theater at the National Archives. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and I’m pleased that you could be with us today, whether you are here in the theater or joining us through YouTube.

Before we hear from Sheila Tate on her new biography of Nancy Reagan, I’d like to let you know about two other programs coming up soon in the McGowan Theater.

On Friday, April 6, at noon, we’ll celebrate the 100th anniversary of First Lady Betty Ford’s birth with a screening of Betty Ford: The Real Deal, a PBS documentary that profiles Betty Ford, her time in the White House, her advocacy for equal rights, and the founding of the Betty Ford Center in California.

 Then on Monday, April 9, at noon, Hendrik Hartog will be here to tell us about his new book, The Trouble with Minna: A Case of Slavery and Emancipation in the Antebellum North, which uses a forgotten 1840 case to explore the regime of gradual emancipation that took place in New Jersey.

To learn more about these and all of our public programs and exhibits, consult our monthly Calendar of Events online at Archives.gov. Check our website or sign up at the table outside the theater to get email updates. You’ll also find information about other National Archives programs and activities.

Another way to get more involved with the National Archives is to become a member of the National Archives Foundation. The Foundation supports the work of the agency, especially its education and outreach programs. Pick up your application for membership in the lobby or become a member online at archivesfoundation.org.

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The Presidential libraries operated by the National Archives and Records Administration have a wealth of information about the Presidents who created them. First Ladies are well represented in the records since their official and personal papers are also housed in the libraries.

But there’s more to a library than the President and First Lady. Each Presidential library possesses collections from close associates of the President, such as friends and administration officials.

Their papers and oral histories allow us to see multiple facets of the President and First Lady by supplementing and elaborating on the information in the First Couple’s own records.

Today we’re fortunate to hear firsthand observations of Nancy Reagan, First Lady for eight years in the 1980s and a steadfast life-long partner to her husband, President Ronald Reagan. Sheila Tate’s new book, Lady in Red: An Intimate Portrait of Nancy Reagan allows us personal insights into Mrs. Reagan’s life in the White House.

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Mrs. Tate served as press secretary to First Lady Nancy Reagan from 1981 to 1985, handling some of the most newsworthy and controversial issues of the first Reagan term. After leaving the White House staff, she and Jody Powell, former White House press secretary to President Jimmy Carter, founded Powell Tate, which quickly became one of Washington’s most successful public affairs firms. She served as president and vice-chairman of the firm for over 20 years.

Additionally, Mrs. Tate served two five-year terms as vice-chairman and chairman of the Board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), appointed by both Presidents Reagan and Bush, and she has held a number of additional positions in press and public affairs organizations.

In 2001, Washingtonian magazine named her one of the “100 Most Powerful Women in Washington.” In 1999, PRWeek selected her as one of the “50 Most Powerful Women in Public Relations” and one of the “100 Most Influential PR People of the 20th Century.” She was named to the Public Relations Society of America’s National Capitol Hall of Fame in 2015.

And to lead our discussion, we have Carl Cannon, the Washington Bureau Chief of RealClearPolitics and Executive Editor of RealClear Media Group. He is a past recipient of the Gerald R. Ford Journalism Prize for Distinguished Reporting and the Aldo Beckman Award, the two most prestigious awards for White House coverage. He was a 2007 fellow-in-residence at Harvard University's Institute of Politics, and is a past president of the White House Correspondents’ Association. Carl has covered every Presidential campaign and midterm election since 1984. He was a member of the San Jose Mercury News staff that received a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and is the author and co-author of several books including, Reagan’s Disciple: George W. Bush’s Troubled Quest for a Presidential Legacy, written with his father, Lou Cannon. His most recent book is ON THIS DATE: From the Pilgrims to Today, Discovering America One Day at a Time.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Sheila Tate and Carl Cannon.