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Thomas Jefferson: A Resource Guide


Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States Thomas Jefferson, Third President of the United States.
Pendleton's Lithography after a painting by Gilbert Stuart,
circa 1828.
Prints & Photographs Division.
Reproduction Number:
LC-USZ62-117117

American Memory Historical Collections

The Thomas Jefferson Papers at the Library of Congress, 1606-1827

The complete Thomas Jefferson Papers from the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress consists of approximately 27,000 documents. This is the largest collection of original Jefferson documents in the world. Document types in the collection as a whole include correspondence, commonplace books, financial account books, and manuscript volumes.

The online collection includes a timeline of Jefferson's life, a selection of his most famous quotations, as well as an essay titled "American Sphinx: The Contradictions of Thomas Jefferson" by Joseph J. Ellis. Also presented are essays on the Barbary Pirates and an overview of the Jamestown Records of the Virginia Company of London.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

Search by keywords or browse by series and dates to find additional documents in Jefferson's papers.

The Related Resources section of this collection contains a selected bibliography and links to related Web sites.

Additional American Memory Historical Collections

An American Time Capsule: Three Centuries of Broadsides and Other Printed Ephemera

The Printed Ephemera collection comprises 28,000 primary-source items dating from the seventeenth century to the present and encompasses key events and eras in American history. Search the bibliographic records and the full text option to find items related to Thomas Jefferson, including a copy of the Senate bill authorizing the purchase of Jefferson's library after the British burned the Capitol in 1814.

The Capital and the Bay: Narratives of Washington and the Chesapeake Bay Region, ca. 1600-1925

A collection consisting of 139 books on Washington, D.C. and the Chesapeake Bay region, including an 1832 edition of Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia.

A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875

This collection contains a large selection of congressional material related to Thomas Jefferson's political career as a delegate to the Continental Congress, minister to France, secretary of state, and U.S. president. Search this collection by date and publication to find materials related to Jefferson.

Documents from the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention, 1774-1789

This collection contains documents relating to the work of the Continental Congress and the drafting and ratification of the Constitution. Jefferson's service in the Continental Congress is represented by broadsides such as the first issue of the Declaration of Independence printed with the names of the signers and Jefferson's notes on the establishment of a money unit and of a coinage for the United States.

The First American West: The Ohio River Valley, 1750-1820

Drawn from the holdings of the University of Chicago Library and the Filson Historical Society, this collection consists of original historical material documenting the land, peoples, exploration, and transformation of the trans-Appalachian West from the mid-eighteenth to the early nineteenth century. Search this collection to find a portrait of Jefferson and eleven documents he authored.

George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress, 1741-1799

The complete George Washington Papers collection from the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress consists of approximately 65,000 documents. This is the largest collection of original Washington documents in the world. The Washington Papers contain more than 700 items to, from, or referring to Thomas Jefferson. To find these documents, go to the collection’s search page, change the number of possible hits to 800, and search on the exact phrase Thomas Jefferson (do not put quotation marks around the words).

Among the collection’s Jefferson-related materials are:

  • A letter from George Washington to Jefferson on September 18, 1787, announcing the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention.
  • Washington's October 13, 1789, letter to Jefferson offering him the position of secretary of state.
  • Jefferson's opinion on the constitutionality of establishing a National Bank, dated February 15, 1791.

"I Do Solemnly Swear...": Presidential Inaugurations

This collection contains approximately 400 items relating to presidential inaugurations, including Jefferson's first inauguration in 1801 and his second inauguration in 1805.

The James Madison Papers at the Library of Congress, 1723-1836

The James Madison Papers from the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress consist of approximately 12,000 items captured in some 72,000 digital images. The Madison Papers contain over 900 items to, from, or referring to Thomas Jefferson. To find these documents, go to the collection’s search page, change the number of possible hits to 1000, and search on the exact phrase Thomas Jefferson (do not put quotation marks around the words).

Among the collection’s Jefferson-related materials are:

  • Jefferson's notes on the debates in the Continental Congress from 1776.
  • A letter from Madison to Jefferson on August 10, 1788, explaining his involvement with the Federalist Papers.
  • A letter from Jefferson to Madison on June 29, 1812, discussing the declaration of war against Great Britain.

Words and Deeds in American History: Selected Documents Celebrating the Manuscript Division's First 100 Years

In honor of the Manuscript Division's centennial, its staff has selected for online display approximately ninety representative documents spanning from the fifteenth century to the mid-twentieth century. The collection contains nine documents related to Thomas Jefferson, including a subpoena served on Jefferson to testify at Aaron Burr's trial for treason and a letter from James Monroe to Jefferson on October 17, 1823, seeking foreign-policy advice.

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  December 17, 2013
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