Reagan Defines Home
Home was an elusive concept for young Ronald Reagan. The only president born in Illinois, his childhood was marked by continual displacement. As his father sought work, Reagan’s family changed homes an astounding 7 times in 5 years—moving from Tampico to Chicago to Galesburg to Monmouth and back to Tampico, before finally finding stability in Dixon.
White suburban Dixon became Reagan’s ideal home. He immersed himself in community life and his gregarious personality made him a popular resident. In high school and later at Eureka College, Reagan dove into extracurriculars becoming captain of his football team and working as a community lifeguard. This idyllic, aspirational image of a white, middle-class life shaped his view of America and future politics. Reagan later called small town Illinois “a small universe where I learned standards and values that would guide me for the rest of my life.”
Reagan’s Sweater and Yearbook
Ronald Reagan’s letterman sweater from Eureka College, along with the college’s 1932 yearbook.
Courtesy of the Ronald Reagan Museum, Eureka College