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Ronald Reagan's private collection of stories and wisdom

Sometimes the greatest insights we get into a president come years after they have served. For our fortieth president, a multitude of quotes and short stories have been released in a new book, "The Notes."

Reagan had recorded the information on note cards, which he kept with him. The cards can be seen sitting next to the phone in this photo shot by White House photographer Pete Souza.

Pete Souza / The White House

President Reagan sits at his desk in the Oval Office. His leather-bound collection of notebooks and 3x5 joke cards sit beside the phone.

Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library

Edited by Douglas Brinkley and released May 10, 2011, the cover of The Notes: Ronald Reagan's Private Collection of Stories and Wisdom.

During a renovation at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library in Texas, the staff discovered a box that had "RR's Desk" scrawled on it. Inside: what amounted to the contents of Reagan's White House desk. Everything from pencils, pens, paper clips to rubber bands. Also inside, they found 46 double-sided note cards, with various quotes on them. They also found 45 joke cards on which Reagan wrote one-liners that were his favorites to insert into speeches spanning his career.

Biographer Douglas Brinkley, who edited the book, writes in the introduction:

"All of the notes were handwritten. When Reagan was recopying various quotations, he was especially neat. His scrawl is impeccable—seldom does he employ a cross-out or correct a mis-start. Clearly, legibility was a high priority to him."

"Sometimes he uses an asterisk or makes a hearty underline for emphasis. Shorthand is often the order of the day. The reader gets the impression that Reagan is a redwood tree and these are the decorations of his own philosophy, the ammunition he will need to survive the hustings ahead."

Historian Douglas Brinkley discusses the collection of never before seen handwritten note cards discovered by the Ronald Reagan Presidential library.

The material in the book is largely transcribed from the cards. Scans of two of the original cards can be seen below:

Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library

A scan of one of the note cards found in Ronald Reagan's belongings.

Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library

A scan of one of the note cards found in Ronald Reagan's belongings.

Recently released notes discovered by the Reagan Library offer a rare new window into the mind of one of America's most beloved Presidents.

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