Philip Jenkins

Distinguished Professor of History and Religious Studies

Pennsylvania State University

My contact information.



Possible topics for your research paper.

Goals of the course

Suggestions about reading set books in this course

Classes: handouts and discussion questions

Reagan's America

Gil Troy's work on the 1980s

John Ehrman's The Eighties


Gender and sexuality

Media and popular culture

The politics of morality

The new conservatism

The politics of God

Against the tide: the liberal opposition

Confronting evil

The Reagan doctrine

Evil Empires

Intelligence and terrorism


My review of Gil Troy's Morning in America

PBS's American Experience on Reagan's life and career, with a full transcript of the documentaries .

Bibliographies on Reagan and the 1980s.

Reagan-related websites.

Documents illustrating the history of the decade.

The Tehran hostage crisis and the resue attempt.

Documents relating to the Iran-Contra affair.

CNN series on the history of the Cold War.

Resources on the Savings and Loans crisis.

The history of computers.

New Media Timeline.

Environmental history of the decade.

The Feminist Chronicles for events in women’s history .

This site lists the major films of the era: it also leads to many other pop culture resources of the 1980s.

The Eighties Club offers rich sources on popular culture and social history, including television shows of the decade.

Best-selling books of the 1970s and 1980s are listed here.

Some major films of the decade, including many potential choices for your first paper.

Visual Resources
You can of course retrieve a huge range of visual resources, including useful editorial cartoons, by using Google Images. These often provide great illustrative materials for your papers.

General resources for political history:

Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library
Jimmy Carter Presidential Library
Ronald Reagan Presidential Library
George H. W. Bush Presidential Library
William J. Clinton Presidential Library
Note the collections of documents and related materials (often searchable) available at all these libraries. The Carter collection is listed here;  Reagan materials here. This latter contains all the public papers of the Reagan presidency.

The American Presidency Project (many documents).

PBS documentary on Jimmy Carter, again with documents.

Selected Web resources for modern US history.

Significant documents and speeches of the period:

Jimmy Carter’s inaugural speech, 1977
Carter’s “National Malaise” speech 1979
The Carter/Reagan Presidential debates, 1980
Ronald Reagan’s inaugural speech, 1981
Reagan’s “Evil Empire” speech, 1982
Reagan’s SDI (“Star Wars”) speech 1983
The Reagan/Mondale Presidential debates, 1984
Reagan’s second inaugural 1985

Miscellaneous but useful documents about the presidencies of Carter and Reagan.

Reagan's major speeches - very useful resources! See also speeches and documents.

This site gives Presidential election results for the relevant years, broken down by electoral vote, popular vote, and state returns.

The National Security Archive gives links to important documents, but the site comes from a particular point of view (OK, so do the presidential libraries!)

For Cold War history, an essential source is the National Security Decision Directives of the Reagan administration.