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National Archives

Scope and Content Note

The Presidential Diary consists of three related series of records. The Presidential Daily Diary and the Presidential Daily Backup are interfiled together by date. Daily Diary Research Materials are found in the research room. The Presidential Daily Diary and the Presidential Daily Backup were maintained by Ellen McCathran, a National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) employee detailed to the White House Office of Appointments and Scheduling. These two series chronicle the daily activities of the President including meetings (with lists of attendees), social and speaking engagements, trips, telephone calls, meals, routine tasks, and recreational pursuits. Please note that the Presidential Daily Diary and the Presidential Daily Backup do not contain summaries of telephone calls, talking points, or meeting minutes.

For any given meeting, telephone call, or event; the Daily Diary usually lists the time, persons involved (or a reference to an appendix listing individuals present), and, in cases where ambiguity prevails, a brief description of what took place. Except in rare instances, each Daily Diary entry provides a comprehensive list of presidential activities. However, there are missing dates (sometimes covering as long as a month) in the series. They generally occur when President Bush is on vacation, most often in August and December. These omissions are clearly marked in the folder title listing.

The Presidential Daily Backup contains materials compiled to provide background for the events listed in the Daily Diary. The Daily Backup contains telephone memoranda which record times of calls, status (incoming or outgoing), and parties involved. As in the Daily Diary, summaries of conversations are not provided. Other materials in the Daily Backup include briefing memoranda used to inform the President about the purpose, duration, and size of upcoming events; schedules describing the minute-by-minute visits of foreign leaders; documentation supporting trips and short excursions of the President; meeting agendas and talking points for some cabinet meetings and diplomatic conferences; notes concerning recommended telephone calls for the 1992 Presidential Campaign; and items concerning President Bush's weekend stays at Camp David. Unlike the Daily Diary, there is only one missing date (16 July 1990) for the Daily Backup.

The Research Materials are located in the research room. This series includes government publications such as directories, manuals, lists, calendars, and the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents. Like all government publications, these materials are generally available at libraries that serve as governmental repositories.

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