What do you think would be on Thomas Jefferson’s desk if he were alive today?

Download the 2011-2012 School Tours BrochureThomas Jefferson viewed the world around him with the eye of a scientist. His interests were limitless, and he was always on the lookout for “useful knowledge,” new ideas, and inventions.

Keeping in mind that Mr. Jefferson was a man who embraced new technology, what items do you think he would have in his cabinet (or office) if he were alive today?  Would he have an e-reader?  Would he send a text or prefer to write a letter? Post your ideas for TJ’s 21st-century cabinet below. 

Check out the Monticello Explorer, "Drudging at the Writing Table" in the Jefferson section of this website, and the Cabinet in the Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia.

Add your ideas using the comment box below. (Requires a login on this website. Students are welcome to provide fake email addresses.)

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"Jefferson definitely would have a windows laptop computer with a webcam, an e reader with an extended battery life, a fountain pen, a tablet, a smartphone, ipod downloaded with classical and folk music, and his fair has to be swivel chair, a graphing calculator and a few scientific instruments oh and also his violin not to far out of reach with all of his music."

- Bethany from Illinois


Ideas for Jefferson's Cabinet from Mr. Owen's class 5th-Grade Class in Northumberland, PA:

laptop, kindle, cellphone, lamp, glasses, sweet tea, quill pen, stuffed raccoon, paper, book, bobble head, parrot


I actually think he would have a fountain pen. And probably have an IMac and have a kindle fire to read his books on the latest and have the Hunger Games series that hes almost finished with and I also strongly believe he would have one of those white things that you stick in all of your papers and it organizes in your computer :)

From:Littlaxe School


I think that he would have a pager, and he would also have a quill pen.


TJ was totally into new and technology would be his interest today.

He would have an iPad, an iPhone, and a Mac Air... office would be wireless and a router would be hidden.

He would have a fountain pen just for fun


You are spot-on - Jefferson did in fact have a fountain pen! He wrote to Bernard Peyton in 1824, "I saw yesterday in the hands of Mr. Dyer, a fountain pen, one of the best I ever saw. He said it was made for him by Mr. Cowan, a watchmaker of Richmond and cost him 5 D. ...Pray get the favor of Mr. Cowan to make such an one for me..."


An iPad or other tablet for quick communication and reference and a Kindle or a Nook for longer reading sessions. I think for his desktop, though, he would choose a linux machine (with dual screens) -- all that free and open-source software would appeal to the tinkerer in him and to his wariness of patents.


I think that Jefferson would have been intrigued by the iPad - the combination of new technology and utility would be very appealing to him.
He would probably also have a computer and fax machine, and maybe a digital watch as well.


I think that Jefferson would have a computer and copier/printer on his desk today because that way he could easily keep track of all of his information and it would be easy to print multiple copies or make a copy of any document available. Also, he might have a file cabinet beside his desk to keep things in order.


I think Mr. Jefferson would LOVE email! He could "cc" himself so he'd always have a copy of his correspondence with others.

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