Thomas Jefferson Papers, 1606 to 1827
Dating from the early 1760s through his death in 1826, the Thomas Jefferson Papers consist mainly of his correspondence, but they also include his drafts of the Declaration of Independence, drafts of Virginia laws; his fragmentary autobiography; the small memorandum books he used to record his spending; the pages on which for many years he daily recorded the weather; many charts, lists, tables, and drawings recording his scientific and other observations; notes; maps; recipes; ciphers; locks of hair; wool samples; and more.
The collection documents Jefferson’s whole life, both public and personal--as a delegate to the second Continental Congress, Virginia legislator and governor, diplomat and residence in France, secretary of state, and president. The purchase of Louisiana, the expedition of Lewis and Clark, the building of Washington, D.C. as the national capital, and Jefferson’s profound engagement with science and technology are all documented here. Jefferson’s family life at Monticello is reflected in correspondence with his daughters, Martha (Patsy) Jefferson Randolph (1776-1836) and Mary (Maria) Jefferson Eppes (1778-1804), and his grandchildren, and in household accounts kept by his wife, Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson (1748-1782). Some aspects of the lives of Jefferson’s slaves, including members of the Hemings family of Monticello, including James Hemings (1765-1821), a brother of Sally Hemings, who trained as a French chef in Paris, can be traced in these papers. The twenty-one volumes of legal and legislative records from colonial Virginia, 1606-1737, that Jefferson collected, are divided between this collection and one held by the Rare Book and Special Collections Division of the Library of Congress.