Ongoing exhibition, opened April 11, 2008.
Throughout his life, Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826) collected books across a vast spectrum of topics and languages. Jefferson followed a modified version of an organizational system created by British philosopher Francis Bacon (1561–1626) to arrange the books in his library, then the largest private book collection in North America.
Divided into categories of Memory, Reason, and Imagination—which Jefferson translated to “History,” “Philosophy,” and “Fine Arts”—and further divided into forty-four “chapters,” the collection placed within Jefferson’s fingertips the span of his multifaceted interests. The books from Jefferson’s library are part of the Rare Book and Special Collections Division of the Library of Congress.