James Comey’s memo has shaken a presidency. Here’s why memos have always mattered.

JoAnne Yates, a professor of organization studies at MIT, is the world’s foremost, and perhaps only, expert on the history of memos.

"I specialize in studying things that at first glance might sound incredibly boring," she said. "The challenge is to make them interesting to a broader audience."

Scandals can certainly help, but given the titles of her papers — "For the Record: The Embodiment of Organization Memory, 1850-1920" — those opportunities have been generally limited.

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