About the Retirement Series Digital Archive

The Retirement Series Digital Archive is a companion to the letterpress volumes of The Papers of Thomas Jefferson: Retirement Series. The content presented as part of this collection includes the Family Letters Digital Archive: full, searchable transcriptions of a rich body of correspondence to and between Jefferson's immediate and extended family. These letters and related documents provide personal insights into aspects of Jefferson's life seldom highlighted in his own writings, as well as vivid accounts of domestic, economic, political, and social life in early nineteenth-century Virginia. Falling in the years between 1792 and 1888, with a concentration on the years between 1809 and 1830, many of these documents have never been published before and the Retirement Series seeks to make them accessible to the public through this electronic edition.

The Retirement Series Digital Archive also contains an extensive, fully verified and cited, searchable collection of quotes by and about Thomas Jefferson, as well as thematic groupings, including documents describing early life at the University of Virginia and the experiences of Thomas Jefferson's family during the American Civil War. The Digital Archive continues to grow, so please check back often.

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Statement of Textual Policy

Inclusion and Naming Conventions

The Retirement Series Digital Archive uses an inclusive definition of "family," including not only Thomas Jefferson's immediate family, but also the extended kin networks common among elite Virginians of the period. For example, Jefferson's longtime friend Elizabeth Trist was the grandmother of Nicholas P. Trist, who served as Jefferson's secretary and also married his granddaughter Virginia Jefferson Randolph. Elizabeth Trist's letters, as well as those of other members of the Trist family, are included in the electronic edition. This network will expand as the website grows.

Regardless of the date of the document, the married surnames of the correspondents will be included in the heading and title. These married surnames will appear within parenthesis until after the date of marriage has passed. For example, Ellen W. Randolph Coolidge is identified consistently as Ellen W. Randolph (Coolidge) until after May 1825 when her name appears without parenthesis. Honorifics such as "Jr.", "Sr.", and "III" have been omitted. Where full names are identical, a parenthetical delimiter (preferably life dates) is given following the name.

Editorial Procedures

The transcriptions contained in this electronic edition conform to the standards set by The Papers of Thomas Jefferson: Retirement Series. Original spelling, capitalization, and punctuation is retained as written. Some so-called slips of the pen are corrected, but the original reading is recorded in a textual note. Gaps, doubtful readings of illegible or damaged text, and wording supplied from other versions or by editorial conjecture are explained in the source note or in numbered textual notes. Editorial conjectures of illegible or damaged text appear within square brackets, and where conjectures cannot safely be made, a gap is indicated by [. . .]. Datelines for letters are consistently printed at the head of the text, with a comment in the source note when they have been moved. Each author's additions appear in green and deletions are in red and struck through. Address information, endorsements, and other notes, when they appear, are quoted or described in the source note rather than reproduced in the document proper. 

All documents and transcriptions undergo an intensive review process before they are posted to the website. Editorial annotation, including information about the type of text and the repository location of the original manuscript, appear within the source note at the foot of the document. When available, links to color scans of the original documents are provided.

Text Types and Repositories

Abbreviations for text types and repositories appear in notes at the end of each letter:

Text Types
Dft draft (usually a composition or rough draft; multiple drafts, when identifiable as such, are designated "2d Dft," etc.)
Dupl duplicate
MS manuscripts (arbitrarily applied to most documents other than letters)
PoC polygraph copy
PrC press copy
RC recipient's copy
SC stylograph copy
FC file copy (applied to all contemporary copies retained by the author or his/her agents)
Tr transcript (applied to all contemporary and later copies except file copies; period of transcription, unless clear by implication, will be given when known)

 

Repositories
 
CSmH   Huntington Library, San Marino, CA  
DLC   Library of Congress, Washington, DC  
DNA   National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC  
MHi   Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston, MA
Coolidge Collection of Thomas Jefferson Manuscripts, unless otherwise noted
 
MoSHi   Missouri History Museum (formerly Missouri Historical Society), St. Louis, MO  
NcD   Duke University, Durham, NC  
NcU   University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC  
NHi   New-York Historical Society, New York City  
NjMoHP   Morristown National Historical Park, Morristown, NJ  
NjP   Princeton University, Princeton, NJ  
NN   New York Public Library, New York City  
NNPM   Pierpont Morgan Library, New York City  
PHi   Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA  
PPAmP   American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, PA  
PPCP   College of Physicians of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA  
THi   Tennessee Historical Society, Nashville, TN  
ViCMRL   Thomas Jefferson Library, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc., Charlottesville, VA  
Vi   Library of Virginia, Richmond, VA  
ViHi   Virginia Historical Society, Richmond, VA  
ViU   University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, VA  
ViW   College of William and Mary Library, Williamsburg, VA  

 

Copyright Information

The Family Letters Digital Archive cannot grant permission to use or reproduce scans of letters, portraits, or any other media on our web site that is protected by copyright law. Please direct inquiries regarding the use or reproduction of materials to the appropriate copyright holder. Repository information is located in annotation notes at the foot of each document.

See the United States Copyright Office page for further information. http://www.copyright.gov/

How to Cite

The location of the original text from which the transcription was made will appear in the annotation at the foot of the letter or document. Contact the repository noted to access the original. The following is an example of how to cite transcriptions of letters from the Family Letters Digital Archive.

Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge to Martha Jefferson Randolph, 23 March 1826 (ViU: Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge Correspondence). Transcript of manuscript, Family Letters Digital Archive, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc., http://www.monticello.org/familyletters, 2012.

The Family Letters Digital Archive is grateful for the support of the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, and The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Discussion

says

One of my favorite projects! The Family Letters Digital Archive is a growing collection of transcriptions of letters written between Jefferson's family members and close friends - his children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, in-laws, and others who visited at Monticello for extended periods of time. The letters are rich in the details of daily life, not only with "Grand Papa" at Monticello, but of early 19th-century Virginia and the United States in general. Search the Archive to find out how Jefferson's daughter Martha finally convinced him to allow her to change her alcove bed into a closet, or read about granddaughter Cornelia's first foray into society, or how granddaughter Ellen described the slave Burwell's illness and how she, her sister, and Jefferson tried to help him. There are literally thousands of these documents available and most have never been published anywhere before. Keep checking back - several new transcriptions are added each month!

says

In this Family Letters Digital Archive, viewers can get a look at complete transcriptions of correspondence between Jefferson’s immediate and extended family. Want to know about Nicholas Trist’s quinine order in 1825? You’ll find the answer in a letter from Joseph Coolidge. Here you can read Martha Jefferson Randolph’s letter to Mr. Coolidge written on March 1, 1826 in which she notes that “My Dear father….is extremely unhappy for the fate of his family. The possibility of selling property for any thing like it’s real value and the failure of a lottery plan to pay off TJ’s creditors.

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