Eureka College's Student Magazine Since 1889

The Eureka College Pegasus

Eureka College's Student Magazine Since 1889

The Eureka College Pegasus

Eureka College's Student Magazine Since 1889

The Eureka College Pegasus

Inside the Reagan Bunker: The Reagan Archives Unmasked

Eureka College

Inside the lowest level of the Melick Library, the Ronald Reagan Archives serve as a vital storage space for some of Eureka College’s oldest memorabilia. From the first printed issues of the Pegasus to the last editions of the Prism, invaluable treasures are littered about, waiting to be rediscovered.

The Ronald Reagan Archives, or the Mark R. Shenkman Reagan Research Center, was dedicated in 2011 from a gift given by its namesake, Mark R. Shenkman. Mark R. Shenkman had donated in association with the Ronald W. Reagan Society. Its creation marked the 100th anniversary of Reagan’s birth; it serves as one of the largest Reagan Research centers in the country, with a collection of over 1,000 books written about Reagan alongside an existing collection of primary research in the form of awards, letters, and alumni research.

Museum Curator and Reagan Archivist Cassandra Chapman agreed to be interviewed to answer some questions about the future of the Ronald Reagan Archives, including plans for 2024 and beyond. The questions discussed included questions about a new collection donated to the Reagan Archives, concerns about the museum’s future, and ways that students interested in Museum Studies could find involvement on campus.

The first question pertained to advancing the Reagan Archives’ mission set out in its creation to be one of the most up-to-date Reagan Research centers. Cassandra would describe the newest part of the Reagan Collection, which had been given through a brand-new donation.

“We’ve received a large collection of Ronald Reagan Movie Posters and Lobby Cards, including promotional objects,” Chapman said.

A collection that a wife and husband donated from their birthplace of Tampico ranged in a number of objects throughout Ronald Reagan’s movie career. His debut in Love Is on the Air in 1937, playing the role of Andy McCaine, a reckless radio commentator, to his final debut in the film The Killers, where he starred as Jack Browning, playing the savvyless role of a mob boss in 1964. Needless to say, the collection itself, spanning nearly several decades, is nothing to scoff at; indeed, it is a mark of an avid collector.

“It’s convenient, given the speaker tonight,” Chapman said.

The day she was interviewed, February 8th, was the same day as the Reagan Dinner, where Mark Eliot, author of The Hollywood Years of Ronald Reagan, would be the special guest speaker—tying in splendidly with the soft opening of the collection given his field.

Dr. Arto Woodley, Vice President of Advancement at Eureka College, looks toward the external relations, alumni affairs, and foundations for all current and prospective students at Eureka College.

“When people think about Ronald Reagan being our greatest alumnus, we look toward his Uniquely Eureka story. Here was a guy from a small town in Illinois; Dixon dropped out, then received a scholarship to stay in school,” Woodley said. “He became the only sitting President to endow a scholarship to a school that helped him when he struggled. We study Reagan for his trajectory. It’s the potential every student can have when they come to Eureka College.”

Jordan Vardon, a former Reagan Fellow, reflected on that legacy, discussing his gratitude for the program at the annual Reagan dinner.

“My word for this is gratitude; I cannot express enough gratitude to you for giving me the gift of the Reagan program and Eureka College; it has been the single most influential thing in my entire life,” Vardon said.

Maleah Hill, a current Reagan Fellow, and Freshman at Eureka College created a replica movie poster of Love Is on the Air. Reagan’s first film was subsequently autographed by herself and the speaker, Mark Eliot.

Chapman was asked about pre- and post-COVID visitors to the Reagan Museum.

“As far as visitors, the Reagan Museum has kept an average of over 600 visitors, not including groups post-covid,” Chapman said.

Unlike the Reagan Childhood Home, which has been in the middle of considerable struggles pre-COVID, the Reagan Museum seems to have retained post-COVID stability with a full recovery in visitors. Those who come to the Reagan Museum can vary from ambassadors to Congressmen. Visitors from as far away as Japan, Norway, and South Africa have visited the Reagan Museum. 

“We have many different student internships open,” Chapman said.

In tandem with the range of visitors, the Archives and Museum offers students an internship cataloging more than 10,000 objects for a grant. Some include a mobile application internship, a Social Media Student Internship, and the ever-present Student Docent position whose job is to give tours around the museum. Open all year and available to all Majors, the positions range from one to three credit hours in line with Eureka College’s internship option.

Students can email Cassandra at for more details on the internships.

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About the Contributor
Joseph Lees
Joseph Lees, Staff Contributor
Joseph Lees (Fulton, IL) is a transfer student from St. Lawrence University in Upstate New York, double majoring in Political Science and Philosophy as a senior at Eureka College. Joe has an interest in the broader humanities and regional politics. He has also formerly worked as an operator for Nestle Purina Petcare and The Timken Company.