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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.)

Comments

TJMonticello's picture
First name: Giuliana Age: 8 City: Orange State: Virgina Ideas for Jefferson's Cabinet: Books, black pens, paper, envelopes, and stamps
Monticello
TJMonticello's picture
First name: Adam Age: 9 City: Orange State: Virginia Ideas for Jefferson's Cabinet: A nook. A TV. A camera. A telescope.
Monticello
TJMonticello's picture
First name: renay Age: 8 City: Orange State: va Ideas for Jefferson's Cabinet: i think he'd have a nook book in his office. And a tv in his office.
Monticello
TJMonticello's picture
First name: leah Age: 9 City: orange State: va Ideas for Jefferson's Cabinet: I think he would like a camera because he could take pictures of birds he might like or he could watch videos from the past.
Monticello
TJMonticello's picture
First name: Derek Age: 9 City: orange State: va Ideas for Jefferson's Cabinet: he would like a atlas and a computer and a t.v. so he can keep up with information.
Monticello
TJMonticello's picture
First name: taylor Age: 9 City: orange State: VA Ideas for Jefferson's Cabinet: I think he would lots of books and a ipad so he could check the weather and read.
Monticello
TJMonticello's picture
First name: conner Age: 9 City: orange State: va Ideas for Jefferson's Cabinet: I think he would like a tv to see the news.
Monticello
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First name: karissa Age: 9 City: orange State: VA Ideas for Jefferson's Cabinet: He loves to read so he would have a nook and a computer and a colorful pen. And keep up with the weather on the tv.
Monticello
TJMonticello's picture
First name: Katlin Age: 9 City: Orange State: VA Ideas for Jefferson's Cabinet: regular pens, crayons, a computer or laptop, markers, cellphone, ipod, smartphone, TV, headphones, printer.
Monticello
TJMonticello's picture
First name: kyle Age: 9 City: orange State: va Ideas for Jefferson's Cabinet: i think he would have a computer.
Monticello
TJMonticello's picture
First name: lyndsay Age: 8 City: orange State: va Ideas for Jefferson's Cabinet: crayons,a laptop, ipod, a miniature tv, video game.
Monticello
TJMonticello's picture
First name: james Age: 9 City: orange State: va Ideas for Jefferson's Cabinet: tv pencils iphone
Monticello
TJMonticello's picture
First name: roanna Age: 9 City: orange State: v,a Ideas for Jefferson's Cabinet: declaration of independence.
Monticello
TJMonticello's picture
First name: tyler Age: 9 City: orange State: virginia Ideas for Jefferson's Cabinet: a computer
Monticello
TJMonticello's picture
First name: montgomery Age: 9 City: orange State: va Ideas for Jefferson's Cabinet: a computer
Monticello
TJMonticello's picture
First name: parker Age: 9 City: orange State: virgina Ideas for Jefferson's Cabinet: thomas jefferson he would have a computer
Monticello
TJMonticello's picture
First name: sarah Age: 9 City: orange State: VA Ideas for Jefferson's Cabinet: Quill to write a letter
Monticello
TJMonticello's picture
First name: Sharon Age: 52 City: Orange State: VA Ideas for Jefferson's Cabinet: Thomas Jefferson would love to have a Nook since he loves to read. He could keep all of his books in one place.
Monticello
TJMonticello's picture
"If Thomas was alive today I bet he would have an laptop and an iPad and text away.He would have a leather jacket and ripped jeans. Instead of his gardens he would try to mix Wendys and McDonalds.He would wear black chucks and would have a different hairdo. He wouldn't be as organized. He would have a sports car. Also, a laptop. I know he would love texting, so an I-phone. A book of nonfiction on gardening Ivy nursery seeds." --Channing, age 8, of Charlottesville, VA
Monticello
TJMonticello's picture
"I think that Jefferson would have I phone and a laptop and electronics." --Charles, age 8, of Charlottesville, VA
Monticello
TJMonticello's picture
"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
Monticello
TJMonticello's picture
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
Monticello
jjennett1143's picture
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
Jordan
haileigh's picture
I think that he would have a pager, and he would also have a quill pen.
hammy
Whale's picture
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
Whale
aberkes's picture
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..."
Anna Berkes
cwollerton's picture
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 <a href="http://www.monticello.org/site/research-and-collections/patents">patents</a>.
Chad
Monticello4's picture
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.
Sara
Thea Louis's picture
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.
Thea Louis
1278663025@facebook's picture
I think Mr. Jefferson would LOVE email! He could "cc" himself so he'd always have a copy of his correspondence with others.
CindyHersman
725180634@facebook's picture
I personally think that Jefferson wouldn't be tweeting his fellow Founding Fathers if he had the chance. We all know that Jefferson believed in government rooted in local communities e.g a government of the people. I think that Jefferson believed that the best way to foster these communities that ultimately made up the government was through personal contact. A Tweet for Jefferson just would not have been personal enough. I think Jefferson would have seen some internet forms of connection and perhaps even texting, as separating people instead of bringing them together. By communicating only via text or tweet one would lose the personality present in face-to-face interactions and in , to some degree, hand-written letters. Therefore I think Jefferson would still be writing letters while encouraging grassroots meetings for both social and political purposes. But right next to his polygraph I think he would absolutely have a web-cam to communicate with communities all over the US. I think Jefferson, who didn't really enjoy public speaking, would really enjoy the ability to talk one-on-one and even to small groups all the way across the country.
Samantha Lin
TJDesk's picture
I'm torn - but I think he'd be an e-book guy! I think he'd still buy physical books for his library, but with all the traveling he did I'm sure he would have made good use of a Kindle or iPad. -Jacqueline Charlottesville, VA
TJ's Desk

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